If you are both comfortable with allowing the two dogs to meet, you should make sure everyone is calm (humans and dogs) and do so with a loose leash. Be sure to have an exit strategy. Don’t allow their leashes to become a tangled mess potentially locking you in a game of Leash Twister Madness.
The Three Second Rule:
- Three seconds is the maximum amount of time the initial greeting should last. When I say three seconds, it’s one alligator, two alligator, three and walk away. Number three does not get an alligator. I’ve seen it time and again where dogs lose it on the third alligator. Now, if there’s barking or growling that happens before that, walk away sooner. We don’t want it to escalate.
- When you’re walking away after number three, give the dogs a second to forget about one another. Once both dogs have been distracted, you can bring them back for another meeting assuming the first one went well.
- Keep your eyes peeled and be fully present (Don’t be texting while a dog meeting is taking place.)
- Eye to eye greetings are a recipe for disaster. If there is a stare down going on, don’t allow them to meet.
- Tails tell a tale. If tails are stiff, tucked or only the tip is wagging like a rattle snake, this is a sign that you either need to disengage before the three seconds are up or really watch closely for those initial three seconds.
- If one dog is positioning his head over the top of the other dog’s head, walk away.
- If their jaws are tight and they’re not breathing, walk away.
- What you want is a relaxed posture with loose wagging tails and relaxed jaws.
- It is common and good for dogs to sniff each other’s butts. Believe me, they think that our hand-shaking ritual is weird too. That being said, even if the initial greeting is good, the three second rule still applies for the one out the gate.
- Last but not least, the three second rule is particularly important for the first greeting, but a very good practice for all dog greetings, even for dogs that already know each other. Give them their three alligators, walk away and if all goes well, take it from there. There will most likely come a time when you can eliminate the three second rule but it’s always a good idea to work up to it.
Facilitating a proper greeting lays the foundation for your dog to have strong relationships not only with other dogs, but with you, their owner, as well. It is another opportunity for your dog to know that you’ve got things under control which builds trust.