Merritt Milam | September 4, 2018

Whether you’re adding a second dog to the family or a friend is dropping by with their dog to meet yours, it’s important to understand the best way for dogs to meet and greet. Just because you think your dog is happy and well-behaved doesn’t mean their greeting will be without issues. It is perfectly reasonable to ask your friend if their dog is friendly. (This also applies to owner’s dogs you meet on the street when you’re out walking your furry friend.)

Before You Meet

The first thing to consider is your pet’s known behavior. If you know they can be aggressive or protective, consult a professional dog trainer for help. Check out our website for the latest training classes to help your dog handle these types of situations.

Always On Leash
When meeting, make sure both dogs are on a loose leash. This keeps them safe and helps move your pet away in case there is an unwanted advance or aggressive move from either dog. It’s also important that both owners are calm and relaxed…pets will take their cue from you.

The Three Second Rule
Three seconds is the maximum amount of time the initial greeting should last. After you count to three, move away. If there’s barking or growling before you get to three, walk away. You don’t want the situation to escalate.

When you walk away after number three, give the dogs a few seconds to forget about one another. Once they are both distracted, you can bring them back for another meeting assuming the first one went well.


Watch Carefully
Eye to eye greeting is a formula for disaster. If there is a stare down, don’t allow them to meet.

If their tails are stiff, tucked or only the tip is wagging like a rattlesnake, this is a sign that you either need to disengage before the three seconds are up or really watch closely during 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.

A Successful Greeting
What you want to happen is for both dogs to have a relaxed posture with loose wagging tails and relaxed jaws. Yes, it is common and a good sign, for dogs to sniff each other’s bottoms. Even if the initial greeting is good, the three-second rule still applies.

Finally, the three-second rule is especially important for the first greeting, but it’s also good for all dog greetings, even for dogs that already know each other. Give them their three seconds, walk away and if all goes well, take it from there.

Making sure your dog has a successful greeting will not only help establish a strong relationship with other dogs but especially with you. It will help you build trust with your best friend.

To make sure your dog is properly socialized and prepared for greeting people and other dogs, sign your pet up for one of our training classes.

Visit our training web page here or call 205-902-WAGS (9247).