Dogs are social animals. Much of their learning happens when they are mingling with other dogs. Structured and supervised socialization with other dogs is essential in order to help your dog become accustomed to the company of other canines. Without mingling with other dogs, yours will never learn appropriate behaviors and will forever struggle to interact with other dogs. You can help a shy dog to mingle by using some gentle conditioning techniques.
Take your dog on a long walk. Give him enough exercise to burn off most of his energy, but don’t wear him out to the point where he just wants to sleep. A dog with excess energy to burn may transfer that energy into excitement when presented with a mentally stimulating scenario, like mingling with new dogs.
Prepare the meeting space. If you plan on having your dog mingle with other dogs in his own home, arrange the furniture so there is a clear line of exit from the room. Dogs who feel trapped or are unable to move away from other dogs may react aggressively.
Put your dog on a loose leash and walk him around the room. Give him verbal praise while you do this.
Introduce the new dog, either by having your friend bring him into the room or by opening the door so the dog can come in by himself. In the early stages of dog socialization, introduce your dog to one other dog at a time. Taking a shy dog and throwing him into the mix with a whole bunch of other pooches is too much.
Continue to verbally praise your dog for as long as he’s passive and well-mannered toward his new pal.
Hold onto the leash, but allow your dog as much physical freedom as possible, so he can mingle naturally. You can never predict how two dogs will get along, so watch body language to determine whether your assistance is needed. It’s best to let the dogs explore and interact with each other where possible, but be prepared to use the leash to walk your dog away if either dog becomes overly agitated.
Monitor your dog’s behavior and actions. If he allows the other dog to sniff him, rolls over onto his back or continually avoids eye contact, he is being submissive. This is fine, it’s all part of the canine social structure. If he is initiating play by barking, "bowing" his body or by running away and coming back, this is fine too. Continue to praise him for as long as he is polite.
Use the leash to guide him away if he becomes agitated or aggressive. A low, sustained growl accompanied by a fixed stare and curled upper lip signifies aggression. Cease the verbal praise and give your dog a time-out. Walk him into another room and allow him to calm down. Only return to the other dog when yours is calm.
End the session after 10 minutes and give each dog a period of alone time. The key to getting your dog to mingle successfully is to deliver the sessions in brief chunks, so it never becomes too intense. Repeat the mingling process as regularly as is convenient, increasing the amount of time they mingle by five minutes per day, until the dogs themselves decide when enough mingling is enough.
Items You Will Need
- Food treats
- Encourage a bashful dog to mingle by putting some of his favorite toys near the other dog.
- Use food rewards to entice him back to the other dog if he wanders off.
- Resist the urge to "protect" him if the other dog is too boisterous. It's tempting, but it's always better to allow dogs to modify each other's behavior. Only intervene if one of the dogs is becoming aggressive.
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