Dear Jeni: We’re a newly blended family, what is the best way to introduce our dogs?
Merging families can be a challenge in itself and even more so when you add your pets into the mix. First off, choose a neutral location that you can bring the dogs for a walk such as a park or unexplored neighborhood. Start by having each dog walk on the outside of both people walking them. You can walk together while keeping the leases loose and using positive reinforcement with treats and a happy voice. Remember, your dog can tell when you are stressed which in turn could make him stressed, so try and remain calm and happy. As you walk, be aware of the dogs’ body language, such as raised wagging tails and “play-bowing”, which are positive signals.
If you see any signs of fear or aggression, such as tucked tail, hackles raised, lip licking, or growling, immediately separate the dogs and get them to focus on something else. If this is the case, try having each dog practice basic obedience such as sit or down. Once they are calm, continue your walk. Repeat going for walks in neutral locations for a period of a few weeks. You can slowly start having the dogs walk side by side as they begin to become friends. If there still are signs of aggression being shown, you may want to contact a trainer. Remember that slow, and short meet ‘n greets are the most favorable ways for dogs to become BFF’s!
– Jeni (aka The Doglady)