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First Doggy Date Etiquette

Author: Nicolette Meyer | Date: February 7, 2013

The dating scene can be pretty scary sometimes, especially those dates where you find out that the person sitting across from you doesn’t like dogs. Yikes! Then again, sometimes you find that fellow dog-lover, and you think “Great!” Even better when that potential love interest has a pup of their own. You start to daydream about play dates at the park, the two of them in a cozy cuddle pile in front of a fire, and all future walks they’ll take together.

But sometimes acclimating two dogs to each other isn’t so easy. In fact, it takes careful consideration to make sure that their first time together goes smoothly.

Here are some tips to make their first date a success:

Please note: if Fido is known to be dog-aggressive, it may be a good idea to have a trainer present to help with the introduction.

  • Have both pups on a leash. Having them leashed means you have total control over where they go and if things get out of hand, you can easily separate them.
  • Go for a nice long walk outside before bringing them both inside. Walk them single file at first, let them sniff each other if walking is going well, then after about 20-30 minutes, walk the dogs side by side
  • If either of the dogs go #1 or #2, let the other one sniff it
  • Once it’s time to bring them inside, keep the new pup on a leash and put the resident pup in a separate room. Bring the newcomer from room to room and let him sniff around. Let the resident pup out and separate the newcomer and let the “old” dog sniff around the house as well.
  • When it’s time to have the dogs loose together in the house, make sure that you have all toys and food put away to avoid resource guarding.
  • Praise the dogs for any calm behavior and any time they check in with you (looking at the other dog then looking back to you).
  • Watch for the “Play Bow”, this is a good indicator if the dogs are getting along while playing
  • Make sure to give the dogs plenty of breaks from one another. Feel free to separate them for a few minutes and give them each individual attention, praise, and rewards for good behavior

If things start to get tense or out of hand, it may be a good idea to end the date before any negative interactions occur. You can always repeat the process again to slowly introduce them. If one dog is fearful or nervous, play the “What’s That?” game with him to form a positive association with seeing the other dog, but make sure the scaredy-pup doesn’t go over their threshold.

Share your personal experiences with introducing new dogs to one another below and let us know your success stories!


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