Please do not rely on the old adage that dogs will always sort things out amongst themselves. There will always be dogs hurting others quite severely or who are hurt badly by other dogs. Here are some recommendations on how to react correctly when your dog meets another dog:
1. Pay attention to the body language
You can, if you are reasonably aware of the dog’s body language, be aware of what’s happening between the dogs. For example, two social males meet while running around off lead on a field, both dogs have raised their coat, something which is not always easy to detect in the multitude of today’s breeds. They initially sniff the anal region of the other dog. And then most dogs say “good bye” and that’s it. But “persistent” cases attempt to dominate the other dog by putting their head on the other dog’s shoulder. In a worst case scenario, the other dog does not put up with it and you are now faced with two dogs in a heap. This is a much generalized description. You are of course aware, that dogs are at least as individual as humans.
2. Stick with the basics
You should always keep the following basic rule in the back of your mind: if you get a bit frantic or even panic when another dog approaches, then this agitation will rub off on your dog for sure. He can sense this and will react restlessly to the encounter. So… breathe calmly and deeply and walk on unperturbed with measured steps. And try to assess the situation. To this end, it would help a lot, with the aid of books and DVDs, to get into the subject of a dog’s body language: watch for that of your own dog as well as the other. If both are signaling friendly intentions then you can quietly permit the encounter. Where both dogs are on the lead, allow them brief contact but you shouldn’t then enable any playing. Make sure the lead is slack and that your four-legged friend has enough leeway to be able to communicate with his “comrade”. If they have taken to each other and want to start playing then ask the other dog owner if they would like to let their dog off the lead. If this isn’t possible, just walk on calmly after the contact. During the encounter, keep praising your dog in a kindly tone for its social behavior.
3. Keep your dog on a lead
Please always put your dog on the lead if you are meeting another dog on the lead, even if your lad is “harmless“. The other person has most likely a good reason to have his or her dog on a lead. Maybe the dog cannot be allowed to roam because he frightens livestock; or he is sick; maybe the dog is aggressive towards other dogs and is therefore correctly being kept on a lead. Please remember that not all dog owners know their dogs really that well. You hear so often, “Oops, this is the first time he has done that!” Many accidents could be prevented if the dog is trained well and the owner also is able to interpret the body language and behavior of his or her dog.
If your pet is on the lead and a free-roaming dog comes belting up to you – something that happens time and again – likewise have a close look at its body language. If he reacts in a friendly way towards your dog, you can slacken the lead as you think fit, where possible. If the encounter is looking none too pleasant then it’s up to you to offer your dog protection. Place yourself in front of him and block the other fellow off making use of body language. Send him away in a calm voice (please don’t shout!). At a push, let your dog’s lead go so that he can bring himself to safety.
And when it’s your dog that’s reacting aggressively to the other? When another dog approaches, give it a wide berth. This should be wide enough that your dog remains relaxed. Praise your canine companion for their composed behavior. Walk past calmly but not too quickly. If you can’t go wide of the other dog, then try to go past it as briskly as possible and without speaking to your pet. This way, you bring him through the tense situation and minimize the stress he’s feeling.
4. If the two dogs get into a fight, remain calm!
Finally, it is important to remain calm if two dogs are seriously getting into a fight. How serious is it? A lot of noise often means a lot of blustering. Both owners should walk calmly and steadily in opposite directions. Often this is enough to discourage at least one of the dogs and he will give in. In addition, most dogs will quickly lose interest in a spat if no one is watching and no human interferes. If, on the other hand, the fight is silent and embittered, you cannot just continue walking. This could get dangerous for both dogs. You should, in agreement with the other dog owner, try to separate the two, of course, without putting yourself at risk! After the quarrel, the two dogs should be examined and, if necessary, been seen by a vet.
We hope you will not experience any unpleasant or serious encounters and wish you a lot of fun and happiness with your dog.