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PostSubject: Having Two Dogs Meet   Wed Oct 07, 2009 6:58 pm

Meet Me in the Middle – The Best Way To Introduce Dogs

Parallel Walking and Arcing (ala Turid Rugaas)

Parallel walking is the best way to introduce dogs to each other. Sometimes dogs will get along right away, but it is always better to be safe than sorry if you have the opportunity to be safe.

You will need an open area; parks are good places for this. Empty areas of parking lots are also good, or even a quiet street can work.

Start at the same end with about 40’ between the dogs if possible. If 40’ is not possible, then be as far apart as you can. If either of the dogs reacts to each other, move further apart.

Note: “react” does not necessarily mean lunge and bark. Watch the other dog – if the other dog doesn’t like what the dog making a fuss is doing, you’ll know the dog making a fuss is reacting. If the other dog doesn’t care, the dog making a fuss is not “reacting”. Dogs always know when another dog is serious, we don’t.

What to do: if one dog is making a fuss, and the other dog is not concerned, do not reprimand the dog who is barking/lunging. Be a tree. Stand still. Be quiet. Wait. The dog will eventually stop making a fuss (I promise! I know it will feel like forever, but it won’t be forever). What the dog has just learned is that barking and getting excited around another dog causes –nothing- to happen. This is a very good thing for a dog to learn.

Walk in parallel to the “end”, the “end” should be a comfortable distance, this is not a marathon. Then turn and walk back. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Let the dogs look at each other, let them stop and sniff the ground and look around. This is a very casual walk, always with nice loose leashes. Dogs are much more likely to be reactive on a tight leash.

Slowly move closer and closer together as you turn at each end. Watch the dogs for any signs of stress or reactivity.

When you are about 10’ apart, then one person stays at one end and the other person walks to the far end because it’s time to start arcing.

Start walking directly towards each other. When you are about 20’ away from each other, start arcing towards your right so as you pass, the people are between the dogs. Each of you makes a semi-circle so when you pass there is about 20’ between you. Then you arc back to the middle and walk in a straight line.

Go to the “end”, turn and come straight towards each other again. Slowly get closer and closer before you start arcing and slowly decrease the arc so that you are passing about 3’ from each other.

The dogs will probably be showing friendly interest in each other or not be paying much attention to each other and you’re done.

Grazing (ala Pam Dennison)

If you think a dog has any food aggression, do not use grazing!

You will need a somewhat large area, having 40’ between the dogs to start is good, but this works in smaller areas, as long as they can safely be held away from each other if there is a problem.

Both people start tossing food on the ground. In reactive dog class, we use cheese balls, big puffy orange snacks, because it’s very easy for the dogs to see them.

Let the dogs start snacking. Slowly toss the treats closer and closer together. Eventually the dogs will be eating right next to each other.

Because the dog’s heads are down, the dogs are “not a threat” to each other and will calmly accept each other.

Note: At any sign of aggression (watch the dogs tail positions for clues and watch the other dog for a reaction), move the dogs further apart by tossing food further apart.


1. Neutral territory is always better than the resident dog’s property. A neighbor’s lawn, the sidewalk a few houses away, any place you can utilize is better than the resident dog’s property.
2. Taking a walk is always better than not taking a walk with the dogs. Dogs learn a lot about each other just by walking with each other.
3. Outside is always better than inside. If there is no alternative, use the resident dog’s yard. If possible use an unfenced part of the yard. This allows dogs multiple escape routes and is less stressing.
4. Lighted areas are always better than dark areas.
5. If there is no alternative and the dogs must meet in the house, do it in a room with more than one entrance/exit if possible.
6. If there are multiple dogs in the home, introduce the most submissive dog first and go up to the more dominant dog last. The lower ranking dogs are warning system and if the scaredy cat dog(s) accept the new dog, the higher ranking dogs will usually accept the new dog with no problem.

Key Points

1. Always proceed slowly. If you rush things or are impatient, the dogs can pick up on your tension. Take lots of deep breaths, relax and use the time to observe the dogs observing each other so you can learn more. Observing dogs is the best way to learn about dog behavior.
2. If a dog is making a fuss, remember to watch the other dog. The other dog will always know if the fuss is a threat or just a fuss.
3. If a dog pulls, be a tree. Stand still. Be quiet. The dog will eventually stop pulling and will learn that pulling means that nothing happens.
4. Keep the leads as loose as possible. So many dogs are reactive on tight leads that there is a book written about it.
5. Get “Calming Signals” book and video by Turid Rugaas and observe and learn from her. For example, most people think that when dogs are stiff while being sniffed by another dog, this is “scary”. It’s not. The stiff posture while allowing other dogs to sniff is telling the sniffing dogs “I’m not a threat”.

Copyright 2003 Virginia Wind


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