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Live The Life

Tips for a happy, healthy, gorgeous little dog.

Ask the Westie: How can I
help my dog make a new friend?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Ask the Westie: How can I help my dog make a new friend?

We'll always be your BFFs, but that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy having someone to wag tails with. Still, making new friends isn’t always so easy. Here are five things you can do to help us get off on the right paw.

1. Make sure your best friend has less to defend.

Home is where all our stuff is. That’s where I keep my raccoon toy, my blanky, my rawhide leftovers. If a new dog traipses in one day and starts sniffing around the place, I have no choice but to defend what’s mine. I’m usually much more social out in public. Try introducing us on a walk.

2. Walk us near one another, but not together.

Taking a walk is a great time to make new friends—especially if our parents keep us a good leash-length apart. That way there’s no pressure to hit it off immediately, which gives us time to study each other a bit. And if we’re both exploring unfamiliar territory, we get to bond over all the new scents and sights.

3. You’re the leader of our packs.

Since our all-time best friend will always be you, it helps when you’re there to soothe us. When my owners ask me to sit or lay down, skills I have fond memories of learning with them, it’s relaxing. I might even get a treat, which really helps keep me calm around the new guy.

4. If we’re uncomfortable, we let you know.

When I’m nervous my body gets stiff and I avoid making eye contact. When I’m really nervous, I might even growl or stare at the other dog in the face. That’s just my way of saying, “Hey, this guy is pushing it.” Owners should appreciate the heads up rather than scold us. Reading our body language well can help you nip a worse argument in the bud.

5. After a barking bout, we need a timeout.

If we do get into it with each other, we each need a quick separation. But we’re not much different from you; if the dispute isn’t serious, we settle down pretty quickly. And after a few minutes, we might even be ready to continue our stroll. Just go back to step two, and allow us to meet again with our eyes, not our noses.

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