Puppy social skills: meeting new dogs

Puppy social skills: meeting new dogs and people

Well Mot & I made a trip to the dog park tonight. We met some great dogs. I have made a couple of posts about how I think we should meet strange dogs. Many people I ask have told me that no one has every really shown them how to meet a strange dog and/or the subject has really never come up.  I owe everyone a kind of oops.. I would have never thought that dog people, many of them, have never considered how to meet a strange dog. Guess on one hand it is a good thing I brought it up. With this new insight in mind I wondered if people realized that some dogs need to be taught how to meet other dogs just like we do.  I many cases dogs watch each other an learn by trail and error. For whatever reason, some dogs need a little guidance. Bluma is one such dog as is a 4mo old German Shepherd Mot and I worked with today.

Guiding your dog through meetings is very very important to curb possible behavioral complications in the future.  If your puppy tries to meet other dogs and is met with aggression do not assume that it is the fault of the other dog. Watch how your dog behaves. Look at your dogs position relative to the other dog. Watch your dogs body language.  90% of dog communication with us and other dogs is non-verbal. Meaning that one dog watches the body of the other to determine how to act in any given situation.

Have you ever had your dog stop and look at you while in a potentially stressful situation? They are assessing your body language to determine how to act.



The process is simple, approach the other dog calmly and with confidence. You lead and don’t forget to ask the owner if this is a good idea.  Let both dogs sniff while observing their behavior. If both are positive it is just as obvious as if it is negative, but pay attention.

If one dog or both go down with their buts in the air this is the universal “lets play” sign. Still, make sure both parties are willing.

If either dog tries to move away, has a tail low or between their legs it is time to move away from the situation.

If one dog stands tall and attempts to put their head on top of the other, this is a challenge. Hard to describe but, ask if you don’t get it.  Time to move away from the situation.  Call this the shoulder challenge.

The infamous “hump” this is an outright attempt to let the other dog know who is in charge. Not really a sexual thing. This behavior is correctable but takes effort.

If your dog has this problem and you are off leash. Put your dog on a leash. You have to start with the ability to control the behavior. Then we can help from there. The worst thing you can do is make excuses for you dog and allow the behavior to continue.

Every altercation I have seen begins with :

  1. growling that is misinterpreted (by the human)
  2. the “shoulder challenge”
  3. Humping that is unchecked.

When one dog growls, bares its teeth and faces another dog, this is not play it is a challenge.  Some dogs growl when they play however, the facial expressions and body language is far different.

If you have a growler …..know the difference.

Remember if your dog gets into trouble as a puppy don’t think they will grow out of it and don’t make the excuse that this is just puppy behavior.  In most cases it will get worse not better.

The last common problem we have seen at Motley Dog, is the jumper.

The most important thing in correcting any of these behaviors is to BE CONSISTENT.

If you have a jumper, you have to decide do you like this and are will to allow it or not. Once you decide you have to correct the jump every time it happens. There can not be situations were your dog is allowed to jump… in the face of other dog or on people.  If you chose to allow it remember to take responsibility for the decision.


Well keep up the good work. Motley told me to thank everyone who reads our stuff. You guys are great. Any questions just ask.


Motley and Jeau