It didn’t take long for Georgie to settle in and make friends with Frankie. We did a shortened version of Imperfect Dog Introductions because both Frankie and Georgie have a history of being good with other animals. All in all, it took about 3 days until we allowed them to interact off-leash in the house together and about 5 days until they were completely integrated and we didn’t feel the need to keep a close eye on them.
First impressions are important. Could we have done it faster? Absolutely. And it probably would have been fine. But probably isn’t good enough and expediency doesn’t trump safety. I can honestly say for their first meeting we could have let them out together in a fenced in area and they probably would have done their awkward, hair up posturing (which both do upon meeting a new dog) and then walked away, keeping a close eye on each other. And it wouldn’t be wrong. There are some dogs that prefer to meet other dogs that way. But for Frankie, we know that being approached by unknown dogs is really scary and overwhelming. And it mattered that we got this introduction right, because setting a relationship between housemates off on the right foot is invaluable. It’s true what they say: you only get one first impression.
Can dogs recover from a terrible first impression? Most of the time. But it can subtly change their future interactions because the history between the dogs is now negative instead of neutral or positive. Dogs with a history of negative interactions are typically less likely to give each other the benefit of the doubt, which can lead to faster reaction times and stronger, more negative reactions.
Frankie and Georgie fit in really well together because (as anyone who has ever met Frankie knows) Frankie needs to be the center of attention, and Georgie’s cool with that. They both like other dogs but don’t feel like the have to interact to be content. They give each other space but are all tail wags and happiness if they decide to start licking each other’s faces.
It sure makes a difference when the dogs you are introducing are well-adjusted and dog tolerant.