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How to Safely Introduce Dogs During Walks

While many cities have leash laws in place, some pet owners allow their dogs to go for walks without a leash. This can lead to trouble if off-leash dogs approach dogs that are on a leash. Knowing how to introduce dogs in these situations or when both dogs are on a leash can help lower the risk of conflict. Keep the following tips in mind for approaching dogs on leashes during neighborhood walks.

Don’t Assume All Dogs Get Along

While your dog might be dog-friendly, there’s no guarantee that they’ll get along with other dogs you come across on walks. These situations can sometimes be tense for dogs, especially if one dog is on a leash while the other isn’t. Even if the other pet owner tells you that their dog is dog-friendly, it’s important to use caution when introducing dogs on walks.

Talk to the Other Pet Owner

If you’re okay with introducing your dog to the other dog, let the other pet owner know. Wait until they’re close to their dog before introducing your dog. If you’re not comfortable, ask the other owner to call their dog over to them instead.

Avoid Nose to Nose Greetings

If you decide to introduce your dog to another dog during walks, avoid having them greet each other nose to nose. This can lead to confrontations between dogs. Instead, let them approach from the side and sniff each other as long as both dogs are comfortable and relaxed. 

Watch Body Language

A dog’s body language can give you a lot of information on how they’re feeling or whether or not they’re nervous. Pay close attention to your dog’s body language, as well as the other dog’s body language. For example, avoid introducing dogs if one or both show signs of fear, such as ears down and tail between their legs. You should also avoid introducing dogs if any show signs of aggression, such as growling or lunging. Both dogs should have body language that shows they’re feeling at ease, happy, or playful, such as a play bow or relaxed stance.

Introduce Dogs in a Calm Environment

Avoid introducing dogs during walks when the street is busy or crowded. Instead, introduce dogs on quiet or calm streets. This helps reduce the risk of having one or both dogs become stressed or agitated.

Stay Calm

Keeping calm helps your dog stay calm as well. If you’re feeling nervous about an off-leash dog coming up to your dog, avoid yelling or running away, which can make the situation worse. Speak calmly to your dog and the other dog, and walk slowly to avoid startling either dog. You might try calmly telling the approaching dog to sit or stay until their owner is near.


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