How to introduce your puppy to other dogs

Follow these steps to help ensure your puppy makes friends when they meet other dogs for the first time.

Labrador puppies, inside, sleeping, at Shoreham rehoming centre

It’s important for your puppy to meet a variety of different dogs of all shapes, sizes and ages. Playing with pooches helps their development. It enables them to understand other dogs’ body language and learn how to behave with them. Positive experiences will prepare your pup to cope when they encounter dogs in adulthood. If they miss out on this, they may find it difficult to be around other dogs as they get older.

Some may be wary or nervous as they get closer to other dogs for the first time. While others may feel very excited. Start by getting them used to the sights, sounds and smells of other dogs from a distance.  Then you can start to step a little closer and allow them to interact.  Once you have done this they can start playing together too.

Steps for introducing your puppy to other dogs

Start by getting them to walk calmly on the lead

Firstly, encourage your pup to walk on a loose lead and keep their attention on you. Reward them when they do and practise until they can walk on lead …

Walk near other dogs and keep their focus on you

Start to walk at a distance from other dogs. Make sure your pooch keeps their focus on you and don’t get close enough for them to become excited or worried. Remember to bring treats with you so you can reward them for calm behaviour.

Walk closer to other dogs

Over time, slowly start to walk a bit closer to other dogs.

Walk with another dog

Once they are used to seeing other dogs, you could arrange a walk with a friend and their pooch. Your puppy can then learn to walk alongside them too. Keep both dogs on-lead to begin with.

Allow the dogs to greet each other

Providing both pups are relaxed, you can let them greet each other on-lead. Let them say hello and have a sniff, then keep moving.

Let them off the lead together

Once they’ve got to know each other and are happy, it’s time to let them off the lead to play together. Just make sure you have trained them to come back when called.

Remember, always go at your dog’s pace. If at any point they seem unsure or overwhelmed, go back to a stage where they were relaxed. Then progress more slowly.

Top tip: Your pup needs to have had their full vaccination course before leaving the house to exercise and meet other dogs. But, you can start socialising puppies before their vaccinations. This doesn’t just mean introducing them to other dogs. It’s the time when they learn about life and what is safe and normal. You can do this by carrying them outside to start to introduce them to the sights, sounds and smells of the world. This will prepare your puppy for when they can walk outside on their own four paws and start to meet other dogs.

How to introduce dogs to doggy day care

Whether you’re heading into the office or are getting away for the weekend, occasionally we might need someone to look after our pooch. Your pup should already have started to walk and play with other dogs before they go. However, this is a good opportunity for them to spend time with others.

Whether you are looking for a dog walker or doggy day care, you need to check they have:  

  • relevant insurance  
  • the necessary training and experience 
  • good reviews 
  • appropriate equipment  
  • a contract and schedule  
  • reward-based methods.

Once you have found the right one, make sure you meet up. That way, your pooch can get to know them and you can tell them everything they need to know about your pup. You may want to go for a walk together first. Then, you could do a trial to make sure it’s the right fit, perhaps one walk or one afternoon – and go from there. 

Now you are ready to start socialising your puppy and can look forward to watching them play with their new friends. But, your dog doesn’t just socialise with four-legged friends, you need to get them used to humans too. Make sure you prepare them for visitors as well.

Are you looking for puppy classes to help introduce your pup to other dogs? Then take a look at our Dog School classes. Here your pooch will have the opportunity to meet, and learn how to interact, with furry friends.

Related articles

Introducing your puppy to the world around them
Your puppy
Introducing your puppy to the world around the...
Teaching your puppy good habits
Your puppy
Teaching your puppy good habits
Top 10 dog training tips
Training techniques
Top 10 dog training tips