“Dear Buddy,

My family recently adopted a dog from our local rescue, and we love him! We are worried that he may not get along with our best friend’s dog, since they visit our home a lot. Do you have any tips on how to get our dogs to be best friends, too?

-Friendly in Feasterville”

Dear Friendly,

Congratulations on adopting your new best buddy! Introducing dogs can be a breeze as long as you understand doggy body language and take it slow. The first thing I like to do is a visual introduction. This should take place on leash in a neutral zone, like outside the home and yard of either dog. This way no one needs to feel defensive of territory. Monitor how the dogs are reacting. Are they growling or baring teeth? Are they wagging their tails and yipping? Is one dog very quiet while the other is straining on leash to get to the newcomer? These behaviors are very indicative of the comfort level of your dog. Bad behavior, such as baring teeth and growling, whale eye (this is the dog version of side-eying someone), and raised hackles should be quickly corrected.

Dogs love to walk, and actually, walking together helps us build friendships with one another! Pack Walking is an activity utilized by many dog behaviorists to help dogs become acquainted safely. Walk with a handler in between each dog, and keep a safe distance. The dogs should be able to see and smell each other, but not physically touch. The walk also has the added benefit of expending some excess energy, and allowing the excitement of the meeting to wear off. Keep walking and correcting bad behavior as you go!

After a pack walk, as long as the dogs are not exhibiting any aggressive behavior towards each other, feel free to move them into the yard or home. Again, body language should be monitored closely. When inside the home, make sure to keep the excitement down by speaking in calm, happy tones, and by hiding all the toys that you think may ramp up energy/excitement. Toys and treats like these should be withheld until the owners are sure the dogs aren’t behaving territorially and will be able to play nicely together.

Often times, dogs will get together right away and be completely fine! But it’s always good to know tips like these just in case a dog you’re interacting with hasn’t been socialized. Follow these instructions, and soon your furry friends will be just as close as you and your BFF.

Keep on Barkin’,