How to Handle Your Dog When Meeting New Dogsby Simon Foden
Your dog is a social animal, instinctively hardwired to live in a pack. Meeting new dogs is essential for socialization. How he reacts to meeting new dogs depends on his personality, the other dog and the environment in which they meet. For a harmonious meeting, be prepared to respond to your dog’s mood.
Take Lucky for a long walk. A dog with energy to burn is more likely to get overexcited when meeting new dogs.
Remove obstacles from the meeting space. If Lucky is meeting a new dog in his own home, it’s essential he doesn’t feel trapped at any point. So move furniture, boxes and other items to the side so, wherever he is, he can see a clear route of escape.
Put Lucky on a loose leash. Give him enough slack so he can mingle with the new dog or dogs, but give yourself enough leash so you can control him.
Give Lucky lots of praise as you walk him around. By introducing this positive stimulus now, while he’s calm and passive, you can take it away if he acts out. This is called negative punishment. Instead of reacting to unwanted behavior by introducing a negative stimuli, you simply take away a positive one.
Dealing with Different Reactions
Observe Lucky’s body language when he meets the other dog. Some dogs are naturally a bit wimpy when it comes to meeting others, others try to boss the situation. Signs of fear include bowed posture, tail between the legs and avoidance of eye contact. Don’t confuse these with submissive gestures. If he’s wagging his tail, but showing his belly or bowing his head, he’s saying “Hey, new dog, you’re the boss. We’re cool, right?” Continue the verbal praise for as long as Lucky behaves himself.
Allow Lucky to modify the other dog’s behavior. If the other dog is being too friendly, pushy or excited and his making Lucky agitated, let nature take its course. Lucky may give a warning growl, or he may simply walk off. Don’t leap in to defend him just yet.
Guide him away if the situation becomes too tense. If Lucky’s fear spurs the other dog to be more pushy, or if Lucky goes from fearful to aggressive, use the leash to walk him away. Signs of fear aggression include a low, constant growl, curled top lip and fixed gaze.
Correct Lucky if he forgets his manners. Should your dog become overly dominant and try to mount or bully his new pal, gently tug the leash to get his attention, then walk him away. Ignore him as you do and cease praising him.
Give him a time-out. If you pay him with attention at this stage, you reinforce the unwanted behavior. By acting normally, you show him there’s nothing to be scared of.
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