How should puppies greet other dogs?

Very frequently I will see a new puppy guardian on a walk telling their puppy not to jump on other dogs. They will say, “No Jumping” and pull their puppy away from other dogs, or hold the leash so they can’t jump. 

Usually as long as the other dog is not aggressive, puppies can jump on and play a bit rough with the the other dog. That is how dogs play and is normal puppy behavior.

Puppies can also learn that it is appropriate to jump on other dogs and not to exhibit this behavior with people. 

To avoid problems with your puppy meeting other dogs, here is a checklist to keep in mind to ensure a safe greeting.

  1. Ask if the other dog LOVES puppies. If there is any hesitation at all, consider taking a pass on the greeting. Puppies need to be kept safe and have as many safe greetings as possible to build up positive associations. Puppies are very resilient, but one bad experience can also have a long-lasting negative impact on your puppy’s socialization and comfort level with dogs.
  2. Ask how old the other dog is. You should prevent your puppy from jumping on elderly dogs that might have health problems or arthritis. If they get jumped on and it causes pain, they might attack your puppy.
  3. Do not allow your puppy to grab and twist the other dog with their teeth. This is never appropriate and can result in a fight. Even if the other dog seems fine with it, stop this from happening. If your puppy gets in the habit of doing this, he will eventually find a dog that doesn’t like it and get into a fight.
  4. Do not allow your dog to mount other dogs. This is natural for dogs to do, but many dogs do not like this and it can cause dogs to get into a fight.
  5. Growling by itself is not a problem. Some dogs are just more vocal than other dogs. As long as both dogs are playing appropriately and the growling does not escalate into more aggressive behavior, just monitor the interaction closely.

Sometimes dogs can resource guard, or act aggressively around toys. If there are toys around, be careful about escalating behavior when the dogs meet.

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