The Dog To Dog Meeting
Following on from Part 1: Teaching your husky to greet politely.
Teaching appropriate greeting behaviour is not only important for the sake of human safety, it is also important for the safety of your dog. A frantic, excited greeting is often mistaken for aggression both by humans and by other dogs. Poor dog to dog socialization skills can easily be seen as an inappropriate social behaviour that won’t be tolerated by many dogs. Rude dog behaviours can quickly cause a dog meeting to end up as a dog fight. A dog that forgoes the greeting ritual and instead barges up to another dog is the dog that quite often ends up triggering arguments or fights. Many of these altercations are completely avoidable if dog owners would spend more time on proper and adequate dog socialization for their dog and correcting their dog’s behaviour. A large part of socialization means helping to show your dog how to politely meet another dog. Understanding what meet and greet dog behaviours are desirable and polite in the dog world will go a long way towards ensuring that your dogs’ greeting has a pleasant and favourable outcome.
“You can say any fool thing to a dog and the dog will just give you this look that says, My GOSH, you’re RIGHT! I NEVER would’ve thought of that!”
Why Do These Meeting So Often Go Wrong?
The biggest issue that owners have with their Snow Dogs is problems with the dog to dog meetings. Too often owners are either unaware of what a polite greeting should look like in the Snow Dog world OR owners fail to correct their dogs when their dogs attempt to greet another dog incorrectly. Huskies are naturally reactive dogs that often try to meet other dogs while flying through the air at warp speed into another dog’s face. Nose to nose greetings set the wrong tone for what should be a friendly laid back encounter and this starts off the encounter on entirely the wrong paw.
Another issue that tends to create problems during the dog to dog greeting is that most often both dogs are leashed. Leashes are great for keeping dogs safe but can cause some real problems during dog greetings. Unrestrained dogs have the option of approaching each other in an arc, coming together gradually with wagging tails and averted gazes. They circle and sniff each others faces and then move on to sniffing each others’ backsides before deciding whether they should play or move away from each other.
However, when two leashed dogs meet, they are forced to approach each other head-on so they are now forced to make eye contact with each other. This “stare” is seen as a threatening gesture in the dog world. Additionally both dogs are probably pulling hard towards one another with leashes pulled tight against their dog collars. The sensation on the neck of the tightening dog collars only adds to the feeling of growing arousal. As the dog owners become more apprehensive about their dogs’ growing tense behaviours, they will most likely start pulling even more against the leash and now they begin to get anxious too as they worry about the impending disaster that may ensue. When it comes to an already tense dog, owner’s fears and apprehensions only adds to fuel to this fire.
Until a dog has developed good social skills and can be trusted not to retaliate to a charge by another unsocialized dog, I do not recommend letting a dog off leash to meet other dogs because you will have absolutely no control of your dog when it is off leash. I recommend that the dog be on leash but that you compensate for the dog being on leash by making sure that the greeting is not allowed to happen face to face.
They say that very often the best defense is a creating a good offence. The key to your dog having a good dog to dog meeting is being proactive and making sure you set the dog up for success. Arm yourself with the knowledge of what a good meeting should look like and then set the stage for it. Always set your dog up for success.
“People love dogs. You can never go wrong adding a dog to the story.”
~Jim Butcher~, White Night
The Polite Way To Greet Another Dog
If your dog has no fear or aggression issues with other dogs, then this is how you go about creating the foundation for a polite dog to dog greeting. If your dog has issues with fear or aggression then I suggest that dog to dog meetings not be allowed yet. Tomorrow I will be discussing what you can do to help with these dogs. If a dog is terrified or aggressive about meeting other dogs, then stop putting him in these situations for now. Bad greeting encounters only serves to make your dog’s problems worse. For today, we will be addressing those dogs that have no other issues other than not knowing the mechanics of a polite greeting.
A polite non threatening dog encounter starts with dogs slowly approaching each other. Neither dog should come charging in towards the other. If you see that your dog is trying to charge towards another dog, interrupt the behaviour by making him stop and sit every few steps if necessary. Show him that his charging behaviour (trying to get to the other dog faster) is counter productive to him. Watch both dogs for physical signs of discomfort, anxiety, or fear. If one dog is not comfortable with the meeting stop moving forward until they become more comfortable or just choose to move on without further interaction.
Butt to nose meetings are considered to be far less confrontational than nose to nose meetings. If your dog has trouble knowing what to do, present your dog’s rear to the other dog for “inspection”. Your dog may not understand that this is the cue that other dogs are looking for from him. If your dog sits intentionally, either from a lack of social know-how, fear, anxiety, or as a dominant act thereby cutting off sniffing access for other dogs, this may be viewed as a hostile gesture and could set off a physical altercation. Work on your dog’s issues so it can meet and greet other dogs more with more confidence and ease.
Some dogs are very tolerant about greeting all kinds of dogs and may even try their best to ignore the inappropriate behaviours. Some dogs might try coping with these bad behaviours and reciprocate with equally bad behaviours of panting, pulling, and doing the face licking routine, too. The problem is that this type of bad greeting does not exist in a dog’s natural behaviour repertoire because wild dogs aren’t ever held back by leashes. This is a bad behaviour that is learned early on while dogs are first learning to walk on a leash and it is reinforced by the dog being allowed to greet another dog this way. Usually the owner thinks “it’s just a cute puppy” at the end of the leash even though it is excitedly pulling towards other dogs and people. The owner, just seeing an adorable puppy, doesn’t stop to consider whether this behaviour is appropriate as seen through the eyes of another dog. So make sure that you are not fostering future bad social behaviour by allowing your dog to continue with poor greeting skills. If necessary, enrol your dog into socialization classes and find out what good dog social skills and behaviours are supposed to look like and then work to foster those in your dog.
“People leave imprints on our lives, shaping who become in much the same way that a symbol is pressed into the page of a book to tell you who it comes from. Dogs, however, leave paw prints on our lives and our souls, which are as unique as fingerprints in every way.”
~ Ashly Lorenzana~
How To Insure That Your Husky Will Have Good Social Skills
Two key ways that you can insure that your dog does not turn into a social outcast is through EDUCATION and PREVENTION. Educate and arm yourself with information so that you understand what behaviours constitute polite dog greetings. Then make sure that you correct your dog’s behaviour as soon as you see them occur. The longer that your dog does the unwanted behaviour, the harder it will be to re-train him. So as an owner be aware and be proactive.
Page 2: Discover ways to help create polite greeting behaviours.