Bringing a new dog home is an exciting – and stressful – time. If you’re lucky, your clients will seek out the advice of a canine behavior specialist. That’s you! You can also help your clients understand the need for advice by bringing up intrahousehold introduction, what they are and why it’s especially important they go well, in your basic obedience and puppy classes. Here are 8 tips to help your clients to a successful introduction:
1. Limit initial exposure to sharing the same household without meeting or greeting. This allows the dogs to become accustomed to each other’s scent. Minimally, your target goal should be several days, but up to 2-3 weeks is better for dogs that are easily stressed or dogs that have less than desirable social skills or play styles.
2. Make initial meetings low stress by allowing some distance between dogs, for example, by using parallel walking exercises.
3. Up close meetings are best accomplished in large, open spaces.
4. Dogs are generally more comfortable interacting off-leash, but if necessary a drag line can be used.
5. Introduce only 1 new dog at a time. In multi-dog homes, try for 1 new dog every 1-2 days, but only if introductions progress smoothly.
6. Be familiar with the dogs you are introducing. Do they resource guard? Have a good recall? Knowing a little information about the dogs will help you choose what tools you can use: food, verbal cues, toys.
7. Know how to interrupt interactions. Some examples include: 1) Using body pressure by moving away from interacting dogs to get stuck dogs moving out of corners; 2) Using a food lure if there are no resource guarding issues; 3) Throwing a ball or introducing a lon, soft toy that both dogs can hold and tug.
8. Know when to interrupt interactions. 1) Freezing or stiffness should be immediately interrupted. 2) Lengthy play with no breaks should be interrupted. 3) Non-reciprocal play should be interrupted. 4) Highly aroused dogs should be interrupted.
Read more tips for creating successful greetings in our Greetings series: “Greetings Meeting the Friendly Stranger,” Greetings: Mom, You’re Home!” “Greetings: Meeting The Friendly Leashed Dog” and “Greetings: Choosing Not To Meet Leashed Dogs.”