On each of our Available Dogs listings you will see a comment about whether or not a particular dog is good with other dogs. Wonder how we know?

At Homeward Bound, we want to be confident in our assessment, so we put each dog through a series of paces. Before we even think of a meet-and-greet with another dog, each of our pups has spent time with our trainer or dog walker leads for a full review of their behaviors. This includes careful observation of their response to other dogs in the kennel, on a walk, or just visiting on leash at a safe distance from other dogs.

When our Golden Rule Training reactive class is in session, our dog walkers take them to school. They start by sitting on leashes across from each other, and then we test them as other dogs walk by, carefully and gradually closing the gap. This is a good test for dogs we are assessing and good training for dogs that we already know are fearful and reactive.


When class is not in session, we do a gradual introduction. Our team has a lot of experience with this, but the skills are valuable for anyone planning to introduce their dog to another.

Start in a large neutral space with two handlers and the dogs on leash. Not too tight. Our own body language and attitude is as important as observing theirs. Keep it light and positive. Gradually, walk them closer to each other on leash to let them sniff for a just a few seconds. Take a step back, walk around a bit, and then let them sniff again. Brief introductions provide an opportunity for dogs to get to know each other gradually; it keeps them calm and avoids escalation if things are not going as planned.

An interaction should never be forced; body language should be closely watched. Long stares or a stiff body that is leaning forward with a tense mouth are signs of aggression. Snarls and growls are warnings the dog is not comfortable or is feeling threatened. The postures of a fearful dog may include leaning back, ears pinned back, or the dog may cower. In these scenarios, the dogs should be quickly led apart. Relaxed body movements, open mouths, play bows (when a dog puts his elbows on the ground with rump and tail in the air) are good signs that the two dogs feel comfortable.


If we reach that point, the leashes are dropped but always within stepping-on reach until we feel confident that the interaction is a positive one.



Most importantly, we want to set the dogs up for success. A less than positive reaction to one dog is not an indication that there will be a negative reaction to all dogs. We may try different combinations, and/or different days.


Socialization is important to a dogs’ health and your mutual happiness. Learning to make a positive dog greeting will benefit both of you!


Questions? Need help? You can always turn to our Golden Rule Training. Click here for more information.