Dog greeting etiquette

There is a huge misunderstanding when it comes to having dogs meet each other for the first time.

It’s believed that if a dog sees a dog and rushes up to them, they are confident and well socialised.

That is incorrect.

Dogs that do this see all dogs as a reward and rush up to get their reward.

They lack caution, care, and manners and they do not read the other dogs’ body language nor identify the dog by odour.

Their owners can often think this is great and encourage or at least accept this behaviour and let it happen. You may have met some of these people, this article discusses them. (click here)

Here is the problem with dogs that behave this way.

  1. They are a bother to other dogs that are actually well socialised or a little worried about meeting new dogs.

  2. They bother, worry, frighten other people and their dogs.

  3. Their dogs can get hurt as they don’t read the body language of the dog they are approaching.

Dog greetings should ideally be done off leash. Or at least with zero tension on the leash or line at all.

Tension can cause restriction and or restraint and this causes a spike in emotion through frustration.

To be able to facilitate off leash meetings, you need to have good off leash control of your dog.

When you substitute good off leash control for a tight leash, you create situations that can turn into fights.

The video below is of one of my dogs, Rosie Cheeks (Labrador) and Willow, a gorgeous German Shepherd girl that came to us for rehab. This is how we taught Willow to meet.

Let’s assume you don’t have good off leash control like you see above and whilst I can help you train that, I will give you some steps on how to make on leash greetings go smoothly.

To start

These are not steps you can use with overly fearful, nervous, aggressive dogs, they will need some work prior to this.

Leash and collar fitted to your dog and your dog must have loose leash walking training and a solid sit stay. If not, train that, we can help you do this pretty easily.

Next you have another dog and owner lined up and we’re going to introduce your dog to their dog.

Loose Leash walk your dog up to up to the person stopping about a metre or so away, and put your dog in a sit stay.

Ask the other owner if he can do the same.

You guys chat for a while and this gives the dogs time to lower their excitement, some dogs will settle fast <30 seconds other can be longer

If your dog does not settle within 1 minute, I would loose leash your dog away and return and try again, if again we have the same excitement for 1 minute, end the session, teaching your dog not every close proximity to another dogs equals a meeting..

When you notice the excitement has lowered in both dogs, give the dogs a free cue and let them walk half a meter to each other.

Once they have sniffed each other briefly, count to 3, recall your dog to you.

When your dog gets back reward the recall with food. The other owner should do the same.

Sit your dog again and allow arousal to calm, then release again. This time they are together maybe 5-10 seconds all going well.

Recall your dog again and leave.

I would not recommend allowing every meeting to turn into play, this will give your dog an unrealistic expectation and may turn you into an Entitled Eddie

Reach out, we would love to help!



About SteveK9Pro

Steve Courtney is a Nationally Accredited Canine Behaviour Specialist, Obedience Trainer, Law Enforcement Dog Trainer and ANKC Breeder. Steve has been training dogs all his life and in these articles he shares with you his experience...

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