Whether you allow two or twenty dogs into your office, it’s vital that they are comfortable and calm in each other’s company to ensure a safe and productive office environment for everyone. And first impressions count!
Read on for our top tips when introducing office dogs to each other for the first time.
Consider the meeting place carefully
If you are introducing a new dog into an area where there is already another dog, it’s important to choose somewhere that is neutral territory for both of them, to avoid any territorial behaviour. Try to choose an open space where there are no other distractions. Depending on the space available in your workplace, this might be outside.
Read their body language
A dog’s communication is all in their body language so pay close attention to this. Give them time to ‘suss’ each other out but if you notice any evidence of negative body language such as stiffness in the body, eyeballing each other or raising of their hackles, it’s a good idea to calmly put some distance between both dogs.
Keep your dog on a loose lead
It’s important that your dog doesn’t feel constrained when they are meeting another dog as this can create feelings of stress and fear in them. Yet at the same time, you should always be in control so we recommend keeping your dog on a loose lead. This will allow the dogs to interact freely, while still being able to steer them away if you notice any negative body language. When dog’s meet each other for the first time, they will avoid direct eye contact and instead curve round each other in an arc. Encourage this positive body language.
If your dog pulls with excitement when they see another dog, turn and walk in the other direction until they are calm. Repeat this until they can greet the other dog calmly while on a loose lead.
Dogs can pick up on the slightest bit of tension that their owners may be feeling which can put them on edge. It’s therefore important that you stay calm and positive during the first interaction to put them at ease.
Set your dog up for success
Always feed and exercise your dog before bringing them into the office. This will ensure they are in a relaxed and positive state when meeting other dogs and experiencing a new environment. Never feed your dog in the office as this could result in territorial behaviour.
Photo credit: KOMODO Digital
Reinforce the behaviour you do want
Always have treats on hand to reinforce positive behaviour in your dog (but be sure to reward discretely to avoid other dogs vying for food). Never give attention for negative behaviour; instead work to produce the positive behaviour you desire and reinforce this with a treat.
With careful planning and consideration, it’s highly likely that the introduction between dogs in your workplace will be a success. If you have a scenario where two dogs dislike each other, it’s vital that they are kept separated to keep employees and dogs safe. If this is not possible due to the layout of your workplace, it would be a good idea to introduce a rota system. If one dog appears to have a tendency to become aggressive towards other dogs, you may want to consider asking the employee to work with a trainer in order to change this behaviour prior to allowing them back into the workplace.