Lesson learned?

I’ve written a few times about introducing dogs. It’s an interesting process that occasionally leads to surprises, some of them unpleasant. But most meetings go as expected especially if the humans are careful and observe what the dogs are telling you. We start with the dogs on leashes which we then drop if the dogs seem okay with each other.After the dogs interact successfully for a few minutes we take the leashes off the collar.

We keep metal bowls on hand that we clang loudly if the dogs start mixing it up after the leashes are dropped. That almost always startles the dogs enough that we can separate them. When I started participating in introductions I would clang the bowls at the first sight or sound that I found untoward. Which is to say . . . almost anything. As you become more experienced in understanding canine communication, you get more used to letting the dogs work it out and “correct” each other. Intervening too soon can confuse the dogs and hamper their developing social skills.


While I am no expert in dog introductions, I have learned not to jump in immediately when one dog corrects another. In the video below you’ll see a part of the 3rd meeting between Yule and Lilly. You might recall Yule — he’s Scrappy’s best friend. Yule’s default mode in meeting new dogs is “Highly Cautious”. But once he decides another dog is okay, he goes into Yule Play Mode which is perhaps entails more physical play than other dogs will tolerate. Watch what happens when Yule approaches Lilly.

I apologize for the lack of quality. Cell phone + me = poor video.

A couple years I would have blanched at witnessing Lilly’s handling of Yule’s faux pas. In this case I wasn’t troubled despite the relative ferocity of Lilly’s reaction. It did have the virtue of being quite clear. I suspect Yule had never experienced a correction from another dog. Certainly not an industrial strength correction like that.

When I reviewed the video I found that I sounded more stern than I felt at the time. That’s good to know (even though I hate listening to my voice as much as you do). It tells me I need to may more attention to the quality of my voice when talking to the dogs. I suspect the reason for my tone here was that Yule looked as if he might go back toward Lilly. I had confirmed that Lilly was just standing her ground but I needed to make sure that Yule didn’t advance on her.

Nothing else happened after that incident. Yule gave Lilly a wider berth and they coexisted in the house for the next couple days. Yule is coming back at the end of October so we’ll see what happens then.



  1. […] addition to his friend Scrappy. Not only that, one of the dogs was Lilly. The one that visited this epic correction on Yule the last time he was […]


  2. azpictured

    Cute how he was checking with you. It’s like he was asking ‘what just happened?’. Boys! Our Lilly has a large personal space and doesn’t like other dogs entering it. It’s interesting to see that when a girl dog does there’s a serious tiff and we’re all on alert, but when a boy dog does it she generally sits down and actually slaps them with her front paw, no biting. She’s such a princess 😀


  3. sargentmt

    Great Video Rob. Thank for sharing. I wonder what Yule will do next time. That is the first time I have seen Yule back up from a dog.


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