Do you know how we humans tend to meet at a coffee shop in town for a first date? It’s neutral territory. Since we don’t know each other– yet– we don’t meet in one of our homes. This concept works well for introducing dogs to each other, too.
When a dog is at home, this is their territory. Like people, dogs don’t want to feel as if someone or something else is encroaching on their turf. Therefore, if you want to introduce your dog to another dog, the best place to do so is outdoors, at a place like a park, where it’s neutral territory.
Rather than letting two dogs run around together, both should be leashed. They should see each other from a distance at first. If needed, bring food treats with you to help the dogs relax and/or bond. If and when both dogs don’t seem to be going crazy (in a bad, violent way) near each other, then it’s fine to allow them to get closer to each other and sniff one another.
How do you know when there could be trouble? Check for your dog’s hair standing up on its back. Is there growling? Do you see their teeth? When a dog is tensed up, your job is to calm them down. You can talk to them in a way that says, “It’s okay.” Anything to help them relax is a good thing.
Patience is important when introducing dogs. Let them interact without it being forced.
If you cannot introduce dogs outdoors in a neutral setting, try using a “baby gate” inside your house to separate the two dogs initially. Don’t favor one with treats and toys or else the other one will be jealous. Wait a while and see how the dogs interact with the gate up. If they seem peaceful with one another, the gate can come down eventually.