The 3-3-3 Rule

New Dog Introductions

3-3-3-3 outline

The most important thing – there should be NO direct contact between the dogs initially.

Spend at least 3 days doing each step, and don’t move onto the next step until there are no signs of stress with the previous step.

Here’s how it goes:

  • 3 days of only parallel walks, and interaction inside ONLY through barriers (through crates, x-pens, baby gates, etc.). No direct contact or interaction inside or outside, other than possibly very brief butt sniffs during parallel walks. If seeing each other through barriers inside is too much for either dog, keep in separate rooms out of sight of each other.
  • 3 days of being allowed to “hang out” together outside, on leash. Close to each other but not free to meet. Continue interactions inside ONLY through barriers.
  • 3 days of being allowed to briefly sniff, greet, and interact for short periods outside (still on leash or dragging a leash).
  • 3 days of short, highly supervised interaction inside, IF all other interactions have been positive and there are no signs of stress.

When you do start having them out together, do so only for short periods. When they start playing, make sure to keep play sessions pretty short, and make sure they take lots of breaks. Make sure nothing of value is left out when the dogs are out together, and pay close attention to their body language whenever they’re together.

Stress Signals: Lip licking, yawns, and “whale eyes” are all stress signals, so if you see either dog doing those and the other dog doesn’t move away, interrupt and distract them away from each other. 

Information courtesy of trainer, Jenni Pfafman, CBATI

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