How Should I Introduce My Pet to a New Partner?

When you're ready for the actual introduction, opt for neutral territory, like the park or an outdoor cafe. And let your dog approach your date first, while he or she stands sideways to the dog, avoiding direct eye contact. Supply your date with extra-special treats cut into bite-size pieces — cooked chicken breast, turkey hot dogs or steak — that he or she can feed the dog. If your pup is more timid, tossing the treats on the ground will suffice.

Once your dog has taken a few treats directly from your date’s hand, do something that your dog really enjoys, such as going to the dog park or beach. Each time your dog looks up at your partner, have your partner offer a treat. Repeat this until your date is able to pet the dog, and continue to reward the pup with treats after every few strokes. You should stand nearby to supervise, but stay in the background, so the main affection that your dog receives comes from your significant other. If your dog relaxes and appears to enjoy the presence of your date, either walk back to your house together or ride in the same car. Once inside the house, have your partner hand the dog a favorite long-lasting chew or play a game of fetch.

For the first few visits, you should meet on neutral territory, such as the sidewalk or front lawn. And always say your partner’s name as he or she approaches, allowing your date to reward the dog with treats, a game or a walk. If your dog shows discomfort, extreme stress or aggression at any point during the meet-and-greet with your partner, contact your veterinarian for additional advice.

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