By: Danette Johnston
Owner - Dog's Day Out, Ballard, WA
Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA)
Licensed AKC CGC Evaluator
NW Coordinator, Doggone Safe
Whether you are looking to bring a new dog into your home or you just want your dog to hang out with your friends or family members’ dog, being able to read the dogs’ body language is imperative for success when introducing dogs. Be sure to give yourself an education on canine body language before proceeding with dog introductions!
I have two ways I generally recommend having dogs meet each other:
1. TANDEM/PARALLEL WALK- For non-leash reactive dogs.
Equipment needed: Dogs on regular leashes (no flexi-leads) and harnesses (no neck collars).
2. TANDEM PLAY – I use this when one of the dogs is too leash reactive to be able to do a parallel walk, even at a distance. We often use this with shelter dogs who we want to let play with other dogs but are so leash reactive that it would take months working on the leash reactivity before allowing them to get the much-needed play with other dogs. Reactivity on leash is not necessarily indicative of off leash behavior.
Equipment needed: A large, preferably neutral yard such as a Sniffspot or large room with some sort of barrier in the middle, dogs on leashes and harnesses, and possibly muzzles and long lines (see below).
TOOLS TO USE – if we are unsure of how one or both of the dogs will react, I will often use long lines and basket muzzles. A long line gives the dog freedom of movement with no leash tension but a “handle” for the humans to grab if needed. It is crucial that a dog be conditioned to a muzzle before using during introductions. I do NOT want to slap a muzzle on a dog and then toss him in with other dogs. Use a basket muzzle (not cloth) so the dog can get treats through it, drink, pant and play. A fantastic and comprehensive resource for muzzle training is the Muzzle Up Project website.
Sniffspot is like Airbnb, but for off leash dog spaces. Anyone can earn money from sharing their yard as an off leash dog space. Anyone can find the perfect nearby off leash space for their pup to play in.
You can learn more about how it works at www.sniffspot.com.
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