During a dog-to-dog introduction, why is it recommended to drop the leashes when the dogs are about six feet apart?
Dogs are social and they have their own etiquette rules and community order. It is important to understand and respect these rules when you introduce two dogs. The way you introduce them can mean the difference between them becoming friends and bonding–or not.
Off leash introductions are often best because:
• When dogs are confronted with a situation, person or other dog they don’t know, they have two options: fight or flight. Leashes take a dog’s flight option away and that flight option can make an aggressive display much more likely.
• Behavioral and barrier frustration: When a dog sees another dog, they want to investigate. The leash obstructs this urge, and makes it impossible for the dogs to check each other out.
MAKING A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION
First, be sure both dogs are calm and submissive state before the introduction. A dog who is calm and submissive should be able to sit calmly next to its handler with a relaxed posture and then leash one dog yourself and have a friend who is familiar with the other dog leash that one. Many dogs become excited when the leash is placed a leash around her neck, so wait until she relaxes again; excitement is not the appropriate state of mind for a dog when it is about to meet a new canine friend.
Next, take the dogs to a neutral territory, like a park. Bring the dogs close enough so they can sniff each other and watch for signs of hostility or nervousness. If there is growling or any other sign that you recognize as hostility, immediately separate them quietly and get their attention by having them perform tricks or even a few basic obedience commands (“sit” works wonders!)
Bring the dogs within a couple of feet of one another while still on leash. Then drop the leash. A tightly pulled leash indicates anxiety on the handler’s part, and the dog might mimic that feeling. If either dog pulls at its leash, then the dog is not in a calm, submissive state appropriate for meeting a new dog—and postpone the introduction until she is.