Introducing Dogs Who May Not Have Great Social Skills

 There's a particular struggle that owners have regarding dog-dog communication.  

Every dog owner needs to know not only what their dog is saying to other dogs, but what the other dog is saying to THEM! 

So… How DO you actually introduce dogs who may not have great social skills?!

(Spoiler alert: you can't just schedule a playdate and call it a day!)   

Before you even tune in to the episode, I’ll share a little secret with you: It's all about body language.

I know, I know... we go on and on about that, but it’s literally the primary way your dog communicates with you (we talk about the ‘other way’ - barking! -  in another episode…)

Sure, we'd love a talking dog — who hasn't dreamed of having one as a child? —, however, body language is all we have for now, so you need to become fluent in his native language.

So, what's your dog saying when he's meeting another puppy? And how can you learn his language when Duolingo still hasn't come out with a “dog” option?

Find out in today's episode of Dog Sense!

Greeting Steps - What Are They?

The first thing you have to understand is: What does it look like when a dog properly greets another one? Because you may have never actually SEEN this happen. So, here’s the play by play!

Step 1:

Your dog sees another dog and either thinks “Uh oh, that’s gonna be a problem…”, “Sweet, a new friend!”, or “Meh….”

The key here is to understand your dog’s body language and what he’s saying. Your puppy will be communicating what he feels during the whole greeting process, and your job is to read his body language and understand it. 

Step 2:

The second step is the approach. How your dog approaches another dog is really going to color the experience for both of them. If he approaches his new (potential) friend like a linebacker, coming at him 100 miles an hour, the other dog might freak out and run, cower, or aggress

The speed and angle of the approach really matter, and you can help control that. 

Step 3:

The nose-to-nose greeting. My favorite part and Sarah’s least favorite — she breaks out in hives when it happens —. 

Nose-to-nose greeting is usually the first place dogs will say hello to each other. During this step, you’ll want to keep an eye on them and look for any tension or response. 

We want owners to take into account both dog’s body language at all stages of the greetings. Most dog owners don’t understand this important piece of the puzzle, and instead focus only on their dog and his experience.  

They’re watching their dog being all excited and think “Omgg, my dog is so happy, look at him!” but, what they don’t notice is the OTHER dog, who is TERRIFIED or UNSURE and giving very clear body language that’s basically saying “Get me out of heeeeeere, I’m dyiiiing!”  

But if you (and the other owner) don’t understand what you’re looking at, and your dog doesn’t, either (or he doesn’t CARE!), then that’s when bad things can happen!

This is why it’s crucial to understand dog body language. If your puppy is being too forward — even if he's being nice — but it seems too much for the other dog, get him out of there!

Sarah and I share the rest of the steps (and a bunch of other fun tips) in the episode above, so make sure to tune in to learn more!