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On-leash Introductions


On-leash introductions can be used when dogs are new to each other, or if you prefer to use leashes when bringing new dogs into a small playgroup. 


Fight kit, leashes, harnesses (recommended), high-value treats, and a dog-friendly helper dog if available.


  • Carry small fight gear items with you (e.g., citronella spray, break stick)

  • Ideally, have dogs on leashes attached to harnesses (two attachment options below).​​​​

  • Attaching the leash to the front of the harness provides better leverage if dogs need to be moved.

  • Attaching the leash to the back of the harness makes it easier to keep leashes out of the way​

  • Start with the dogs near each other, but out of sight, to prevent the build-up of frustration before the introduction. 


Let the dogs meet as quickly as possible to minimize barrier frustration. You might have to run to assure that the leashes are loose when the dogs meet.

Guidelines for effective on-leash introductions:

  • Maintain loose leashes throughout the introduction.​​

  • ​To prevent leashes from tangling and allow for quick separation of the dogs, both handlers should move around the dogs to maintain positions on opposite sides of the dogs (180 degrees apart.).

  • If leashes tangle during an introduction, handlers should coordinate to untangle them as quickly as possible.

  • If the dogs are relaxed and friendly, leashes can be dropped or removed (depending on your play protocol) & the dogs can be allowed to play.

  • Otherwise, if either dog behaves aggressively or shows tense, anxious or fearful body language, separate the dogs, encouraging them in a happy tone as you do this. Give both dogs treats when separated. If the dogs didn’t fight, you can try the introduction again.

You might decide to try an introduction that did not go well again if:

  • You’re unsure that the protocol was followed (e.g. leashes might have been tight);

  • The aggression/fear was very mild, & is improving or not worsening if you have already tried multiple introductions with this pair;

  • ​You need to determine whether one or both of the dogs are dog-friendly, and you feel this is the best pairing available.

If after the initial introduction you discover one or both dogs are reactive or fearful, see Barrier-frustrated Dog Introductions and Fearful Dog Introductions.

After the initial introduction, and after monitoring play, record what you learned about the dog in the Dog Play Profile Sheet, as well as any interactions between particular dogs in your Playgroup Notes summary. 

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