Tips to Help Dogs Meet New Friends

February 11th is National Make a Friend Day! At Camp Bow Wow®, we love to see our Campers making friends and enjoying time with them every day. Just like people, some dogs hit it off right away and some need time to get to know each other. To celebrate National Make a Friend Day, we wanted to share tips on proper dog-to-dog greetings and what to look for to help your pup make friends.

Dog greetings are very different from human greetings, so it’s important to understand that and be able to identify polite greetings in dogs.

Polite Greetings

Some dogs approach other dogs in a polite and socially acceptable way more readily than others. Signs of a polite greeting to look for can include:

  • Curved bodies on approach
  • Approaching at an angle (not straight on)
  • Loose bodies and jaws
  • Sniffing each other’s rear ends
    • This is a normal and healthy greeting for dogs

Impolite Greetings

Dogs who greet other dogs in an impolite or rude manner may do so for many reasons including overexcitement, fear, or simply not being exposed to other dogs enough to have learned what’s polite. Impolite greetings should be interrupted and not allowed to continue. An impolite greeting may include:

  • Approaching straight on
  • Rushing or stalking
  • Stiff body posture
  • Placing the head over the other dog’s back or shoulders

Meet and Greets

When helping facilitate a meet and greet with another dog, here are a few handy tips to guide you:

  • Walks
    • Walking dogs together first, one handler per dog, and keeping at least 10 ft between the dogs to start can help them check each other out before an official meeting
  • Barriers
    • Allowing slow, short greetings through a barrier (such as a fence) can be easier to control
  • Always make sure you have at least one person handling each dog: never try to introduce two dogs with just one person available
  • Use the 3-second rule for greetings, meaning, allow dogs to sniff for 3 seconds, then move the dogs apart
    • Reward dogs when they separate for a break to encourage the use of breaks in the future
  • Make sure you watch your dog’s body language and stop a meet and greet if they become overstimulated, fearful, or uncomfortable with the other dog’s approach