Stress Free Playgroups

When introducing new dogs, you often only have one chance to make the best first impression.  This first impression is critical to the future success of a positive relationship between the two dogs.  What if you are meeting an entire group?

I believe there are several things you can do to set your doggie playgroup up for success before you remove the leash.  When my Outdoor Adventure Canines come together for some off leash play, we always take time to do several pass by’s with each dog, so they can exchange greetings from a safe distance. 
Geting information about each other

Puff, the handsome Samoyed above, calmly walks around the group, somewhat focused on his handler but also taking a few glances at the playmates near by. Harry, Lily, Caliber, Annie, Denver, Heidi, Sara, Topper, Sushi and Brady each take a look at the dog approaching.  Within this group, we noticed various calming signals from the dogs that were stationary.  Such as looking away, licking lips, blinking, sniffing the ground, yawning, sitting or even laying down.  After giving each dog a chance to walk through the group and get some information, we were ready to do some parallel walking together.

After parallel walking and playing follow the leader I could see each dog becoming more relaxed with their surroundings and their new pack.  
Brady the Scottish Terrier LOVED the water!
Once in the woods, we allowed the dogs off leash for some running, romping and playing.  While our focus was on reinforcing our recall, I was completely enjoying the relationships that developed as a result of a successful introduction.
Brady, the Scottie, was crazy about the water, jumping in and swimming with little hesitation.   What a treat to see him so happy!
Pairing up for a game of chase


Puff quickly realized that Caliber is a playful pup and engaged in a game of chase.  Lily the springer dashed in and out of the water sometimes following Brady and sometimes chasing Puff.  Harry and Annie, the adult dogs of the group watched from the bridge as the adolescent dogs played using all nice communication skills!  
Topper and Caliber taking a break


First impressions are critical!  Teaching our dogs how to greet calmly sets them up for success, and taking time to build positive relationships is simply joyful!