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Introducing a Puppy to Other Dogs

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 26 Feb 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Puppy Meet Strange Dog Puppy Meet Other

Socialisation is one of the key factors towards creating a well-adjusted, reliable dog that is a pleasure to live with and there is no time more crucial for socialisation than when your dog is still a puppy. One of the most important aspects of socialisation is introducing your puppy to other dogs, so he can learn the correct way to interact with other canines and benefit from the play and social interaction. However, a bad experience with another dog can do more harm than good, therefore it is vital that you choose the other dog carefully and ensure that the interaction is a positive one for your puppy.

When Can I Start Letting my Puppy Meet Other Dogs?

While most vets will insist that you keep your puppy away from all dogs until his vaccinations have been completed, waiting that long means that the crucial time for socialisation in your puppy's development (8-12 weeks) will have passed. Therefore, you should try to compromise by allowing your puppy to meet a few dogs that you know well and know have been vaccinated and are therefore safe for your puppy to meet.

Where Can I Meet Other Dogs Safely?

One of the best places for your puppy to meet other dogs is at puppy pre-school or "puppy parties". These are often run by your veterinary clinic and they allow your puppy to play and interact with other puppies his age, while remaining in a safe environment. Once your puppy is older and has completed his vaccinations, you can continue this form of socialisation by enrolling him in a puppy training class. This will not only provide you with a chance to socialise your dog in a supervised environment but will also give you the basic training to help your dog become a model canine citizen.

Dog parks can be a good place to meet a variety of dogs - however, be aware that this also means a variety of temperaments, both good and bad, and great differences in the control and expectations of the owners. Dog parks can be great places to socialise your dog but ideally, a good understanding of canine body language and social hierarchy is needed to help you keep your puppy safe: many a dog has been bullied or even badly attacked in a dog park.

How do I Let Them Meet?

It is best not to let your puppy drag you up to every strange dog in the street to say hello. Not only will it teach your puppy bad manners (pulling on leash, getting excited when seeing another dog, jumping up, barking - these behaviours will escalate as the puppy grows and is no longer allowed to tow you up to strange dogs; its frustration may then become aggression), it can also be dangerous as you have no idea what the strange dog may be like. It could have behavioural problems and act aggressively towards your puppy, possibly even injuring him.

Thus it is best to teach your puppy to ignore other dogs when walking on the lead with you and encourage him to keep his attention on you. If you do decide to let him greet another dog, make sure you ask your puppy to "Sit" or give some other command which demonstrates your authority over him, before releasing him and allowing him to go up to the other dog. This way, your dog learns to ask for your permission first before greeting another dog.

Make sure both dogs are on lead and that you can rely on the person holding the other dog to control it. Let the other dog approach your puppy. In most cases, your puppy will act very submissive (such as rolling over and presenting his exposed belly, licking the lips of the other dog, crouching low and wriggling on the ground) - this is good and is what puppies should do when greeting an older dog. Allow the other dog to sniff your puppy but make sure that if it shows any negative behaviour, such as growling, it is instantly reprimanded and removed from the puppy.

Do not allow your puppy to jump up all over the other dog - it may be older, with less patience for playful antics. If the other dog does seem to be playful (eg, low wagging tail, "play-bow" - front legs bent, bum in the air) then you may decided to let the two dogs play although make sure that things do not get too rough and that the other dog is not frightening your puppy in any way (or your puppy is not overwhelming the other dog with boisterous behaviour).

It is best to make the first meeting brief and separate the dogs again. You can reintroduce them a short period later and gradually build up the time until they have sorted out the hierarchy and are comfortable in each other's company. In some cases, some dogs can never learn to "get along" and this is not a disaster - not all humans enjoy being with each other. You will find that your puppy has certain "best friends" who seem particularly suited to his personality and will play with him best. However, whenever your puppy is interacting with other dogs, make sure you supervise constantly.

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[Add a Comment]
My friend has an 8 week old puppy & wants to come to my home to introduce her to my 2 yr. old vaccinated dog. Is this wise?
Tweetie - 26-Feb-18 @ 12:15 AM
Hi I'm getting a new puppy, can she go into my boyfriend's house (he has an unvaccinated dog) if I don't allow physical contact till she's had her full course of vaccinations?
Junet55 - 29-Sep-17 @ 9:16 AM
I have just gotten a rotter shepherd. His had did first shots.Can he meet other dogs? I usually try to edit until they've had all their shots. But I work at a barn 12+ hours st the moment and he'll become a barb dog. I can pay for a doggy daycare but if much rather him st the barn. Long story short. How safe if it for him to dog socialize after his set of shots.
Chels - 6-May-17 @ 7:55 PM
My dog has just had puppies, 5 days ago. She is missing her best friend (my sisters dog) when would be best to introduce my sisters dog to my dog and her pups.
Ali - 17-Apr-17 @ 3:37 PM
Hi, I have a 8 week old puppy who hasn't been vaccinated yet, would it be ok to take my puppy to my mums house, where she has an adult dog who has been fully vaccinated?
Jen - 25-Mar-17 @ 8:50 AM
Mw93 - Your Question:
Hello, I agreed a couple of months ago to look after a friends dog in April, in the meantime I have been looking for a dog myself and have found one but I have worked it out and we would have only had the puppy home for about 3 weeks before my friends dog will be arriving. Will this be OK or would you advise a longer period at home? Also how old can puppies be before they can go outside and meet other dogs. Thanks

Our Response:
Much depends upon your friend's dog really and whether he/she is good with puppies. Socialising is obviously good and once your puppy has been appropriately vaccinated socialisation should take place asap in order your puppy can adjust. With regards to looking after the other dog coming to stay, as a rule it is said that female dogs are more accommodating of puppies than male. You may also wish to research the idiosyncrasies of the breed.
SaferPets - 19-Jan-17 @ 12:24 PM
Hello, I agreed a couple of months ago to look after a friends dog in April, in the meantime I have been looking for a dog myself and have found one but I have worked it out and we would have only had the puppy home for about 3 weeks before my friends dog will be arriving. Will this be OK or would you advise a longer period at home? Also how old can puppies be before they can go outside and meet other dogs. Thanks
Mw93 - 18-Jan-17 @ 4:22 PM
Hi We just got a 9week old pup and we were hoping to take her to a friend's house the day after Christmas however we just discovered another person at the party who will be getting a 7 week old pup. Both will have had their first jabs but not their second, is it okay for them to meet or should we try and visit at different times?
Hannah - 22-Dec-16 @ 11:44 AM
Lou - Your Question:
What happens if a puppy meets a dog that's not up to date with injections?

Our Response:
It is unlikely that anything untoward will happen and the risks of either dog transmitting anything is very low, unless the unvaccinated dog is already ill.
SaferPets - 16-May-16 @ 12:39 PM
What happens if a puppy meets a dog that's not up to date with injections?
Lou - 15-May-16 @ 6:10 PM
Patrick- Your Question:
Hey, we have 2 labs 4yo and 14yo and have just got a golden retriever puppy. He'll be nearly 11 weeks old when I have to return to work. Should I build a dog run to separate them until they are bigger? How old until he can be in the yard with the others?

Our Response:
It's a difficult question to answer as much depends upon the personalities of the older dogs, whether there has been any integration up to now and how that has been. Also what your pup is like with the older dogs and whether it will give them any respite while you're out at work. Older dogs may have patience with the younger, but they can get frustrated and while the older dogs may reprimand your dog gently at first, if needed they will use force and dominance if subtle correction doesn't work. For peace of mind it may be a good idea to separate the dogs for a while, especially if your other two are accustomed to having their own space. The Dog's Trust, link here may be able to provide you with more information.
SaferPets - 31-Mar-16 @ 10:55 AM
I have a Malteese at the moment who has had all her injections. We are about to get a Maltese puppy who will have her first injection on the same day that were are able to pick her up. Is it ok for them to be together or should we give it another week before we collect her?
B - 30-Mar-16 @ 8:50 PM
Hey, we have 2 labs 4yo and 14yo and have just got a golden retriever puppy. He'll be nearly 11 weeks old when I have to return to work. Should I build a dog run to separate them until they are bigger? How old until he can be in the yard with the others?
Patrick - 30-Mar-16 @ 1:00 AM
Glamnan - Your Question:
Hi there, can you please give me some advice. I have a 9 week old pup who has had first lot of jabs. My local vet practice has said that she can attend puppy solcialising class at this stage, which commence this week. With this in mind I have taken her to socialise with my daughters 11 week old inoculated puppy in her house and garden only and that got on really well. However my daughters pup has now completed all jabs and is now taken out for short walks on pavement. Will it still be ok for my pup, who has still 3 weeks before having final jab, to continue to socialise with my daughters pup now, as I really want to continue with socialising but obviously not if will put her at risk. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.

Our Response:
As specified in the article, while most vets will insist that you keep your puppy away from all dogs until his vaccinations have been completed, waiting that long means that the crucial time for socialisation in your puppy's development (8-12 weeks) will have passed. Therefore, you should try to compromise by allowing your puppy to meet a few dogs that you know well and know have been vaccinated and are therefore safe for your puppy to meet. Do not allow your puppy to mix with dogs of unknown vaccination status, do not take your pup out to parks where other un-vaccinated dogs may be and avoid areas where dogs have fouled/or soiled- meaning your dog should be fine mixing with your daughter's pup.
SaferPets - 17-Feb-16 @ 12:24 PM
Hi there, can you please give me some advice. I have a 9 week old pup who has had first lot of jabs. My local vet practice has said that she can attend puppy solcialising class at this stage, which commence this week.With thisin mind I have taken her to socialise with my daughters 11 week old inoculated puppy in her house and garden only and that got on really well. However my daughters pup has now completed all jabs and is now taken out for short walks on pavement. Will it still be ok for my pup, who has still 3 weeks before having final jab, to continue to socialise with my daughters pup now, as I really want to continue with socialising but obviously not if will put her at risk. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.
Glamnan - 16-Feb-16 @ 8:25 PM
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