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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've always kind of wondered this. I had a friend this summer who insisted dogs should be on leash first in case they react badly to another dog, but we know dogs on leash can behave very differently and this isn't really ideal (particularly for Quill, since he's a leash reactive dog!).

In the past, we just let Quill and the other dog go say hi and do their thing. Quill has always been submissive to other dogs and plays very well with them in general, so we've never had an issue. He says hi, if the other dog gets snippy, Quill slinks away and comes back to me. If not, Quill and other dog play and have a grand old time. Granted, this isn't us letting him say hi to EVERY dog or some random dog. It is him meeting friends' or family dogs, so dogs we generally know their personality and how they do with other dogs.

I ask now because my technician this summer has a small, older dog she wants to bring to the house some weekends, which I don't really have an issue with, but since Quill will be living there full time I also would want to make sure he's okay with the dog. And outside of my mom's dachshunds and one small dog at a dog park ages ago, Quill hasn't really met many small dogs. Similarly, my friend has a shiba she is bringing over to our house to meet Quill, so not AS small, but still small.

How do you go about your dog meeting dogs? What is the "correct" way? Do you do anything differently for an 80 lb dog meeting a small dog?
 

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This is a big question and there is no black and white answer. Here are some things I consider when mixing my own dogs as well as strange dogs or clients' dogs:

Before introduction I want to know for each dog:
-What is the dog's fight history, and bite history (bite = breaking skin). If there is any bite history, I want to hear details.
-Socialization history and general exposure to dogs. (ie, if this is a dog that's never interacted with another dog, versus dog park dog)
-What is the dog's play style.
-Size of dog
-Any special considerations (ex. super old or young dog, arthritic, etc.)

The answers to these questions determine where and how I introduce dogs. There is no solid equation. Generally speaking, I like to start with dragging leashes with social dogs in a low risk try (generally social, no bites, not reactive, similar size). If I feel like there is a risky size difference or difference in play style, I sometimes choose to have the 'rowdier' or 'riskier' dog dragging a leash, or even handicap that dog by holding the leash so that the other dog has the ability to move away. For reactive dogs, sometimes I start with some engage/disengage type exercises from a distance and progress to parallel walking, into a natural greeting with both dogs on leash and handlers circling to keep the leash loose. For barrier reactive dogs, I start by having one dog behind a visual barrier and having the second dog come in, letting both dogs go once safely close enough for supervision, and letting them both greet swiftly and without tension.

Any dog with a puncture history with another dog is introduced with a muzzle (with the exception of very context specific bites like... dog is good with all except bit once over a raw bone, or something like that). Dogs with huge size discrepancies are introduced with the larger dog dragging a leash or handicapped. Plenty of interruptions for pushy dogs.

With Brae, I do off leash intros with me close by, since I can verbally interrupt or correct him. He is very social but can be pushy and rude. I ALWAYS supervise with Brae since if he's bored he will sometimes push the other dog for interactions, and though he has a beautiful dog history so far I know he wouldn't back down if things escalated. If he wasn't responsive to my verbal cues, I would handicap him with a leash or long line.

With Sor, I do leashed intros with smaller dogs and/or dogs who are known to take corrections well. I do muzzled intros with larger dogs and/or other confident dogs who might not take corrections well. I make sure they don't have a bite history, or else it wouldn't be fair for Soro. I ALWAYS supervise with Sor because of his history. But after the initial introduction he is actually pretty easy to have around other dogs. He doesn't care for other dogs as much.
 

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Some interactions that we've experienced:

1. Large, unsocialized dog on-leash, b/c he may be unpredictable meeting a large, socialized dog off-leash, b/c he is non-reactive and predictable.
2. Small, unsocialized dog on-leash, b/c he is unpredictable meeting a large, socialized dog off-leash ... who got nipped, anyway ....
3. Small, unsocialized dog on-leash, b/c he is unpredictable meeting a large, socialized dog on-leash ... still got nipped, before anyone could react.
4. Small, socialized dog on-leash meeting a large unsocialized dog on-leash ... no threats or reactivity
5. Small, very socialized dog off-leash meeting a large unsocialized but predictable dog on-leash ... no threats or reactivity [Turid Rugaas type interaction!]

If you don't know the dogs, both should be on-leash. If they are unpredictable, you might want to walk them together with one or two people in between.
If you know that Quill will react on-leash, but will NEVER react badly off-leash, you might try off-leash if you have experienced that he will back off in the face of an attack.

Note that some small dogs can sniff nicely and then nip suddenly, anyway. Most dogs do not attack randomly, but usually have a history of a 'predictable' pattern of behavior, even if it is an 'unpredictable' attack. Fear biting/nipping, especially from timid dogs and some small dogs meeting with large dogs may not be predictable and can be expected if seen as a probable pattern (greater than 50% of the time). See Ian Dunbar for a more detailed treatise.

So, until you have more info about the small, older dog, I suggest that he be on-leash, with the potential that he might nip Quill as any time and without a warning growl.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Quill's history with other dogs is fantastic. He gets a little more "short" with puppies, but still nothing that concerns me. He had an 8 month old cattle dog x who had little socialization he played with beautifully outside, but inside she harassed him endlessly so he would go through the warnings -- growl, then if ignored, snap (but without contact). But we would always intervene because she was terrible at reading his signals. And on off leash walks when we encounter puppies he is always more willing to be a bit pushy with them vs older dogs. But aside from puppies, he is super submissive.

My mom has a male dachshund Quill is terrified of because he acts aggressively towards Quill (they've never gotten face to face with each other, but he barks/growls/snaps at Quill), and Quill is super friendly with her female dachshund who is far more timid and will give warning growls which Quill responds great too...so we've never had issues. He's also met dogs off leash on hikes and does fine, and when dogs there have shown more aggressive signs, Quill is first to back down and willing to run back to me no issues when I call. He has never been the dog to keep going if things escalate.

That's how I was thinking of it Canyx, as more of a "no right way". Sure, for dogs who are fine meeting dogs on leash, a loose leash IS probably good so you can pull away easily if it went badly. But for a leash reactive dog, not so much. If I even so much as hold Quill back when he sees another dog, he's going to bark and seem crazy, and the moment I let go he runs over and greets appropriately. So other dogs tend to accept him more easily in his off-leash version than the restrained version. And the shiba seems like the kind of dog Quill will either be afraid of, or get along with great, because she describes him as having a big dog attitude. She says he does fine with other dogs but is definitely the dominant one generally.
 
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