[UPDATE: After writing a letter informing ACS of the bad advice contained in their adoption packet, their head trainer has pledged to review and update all existing material.]

Astoundingly poor advice on canine socialization, courtesy of Chicago’s Anti-Cruelty Society:

A normal greeting for dogs is to stand rigidly still while they sniff each other…. The hair, or hackles, on their backs may go up, the dogs may stand on tip-toe and they may mount each other. Again, this is all perfectly normal and should be allowed….

Expect some growling, pushing around and minor fights. Some fights look and sound ferocious, but allow them to continue. It is all normal and natural. This is how dogs settle their differences. Unless you see “blood and guts”, do not interfere.

…In the case of a severe fight, try to separate them by pulling each dog off balance by its hind legs…. Put each dog in a separate area for the next few hours, or days, and try it again once things have calmed down.

Yes, by all means, try again. After all, practice makes perfect!

The above gems may be found within The Anti-Cruelty Society’s mind-boggling handout titled Introducing a Dog to a Dog. It came my way via a new client, whose newly adopted dog in fact disagrees rather vehemently with the notion that growling, posturing, mounting, and minor skirmishes should be allowed to go on unchecked.

Coincidentally, this dog was also never assessed for dog-aggression prior to being adopted. Granted, aggression doesn’t seem to much alarm the good folks at Anti-Cruelty, but you’d think they’d give it a whirl anyhow, just to see what happens. After all, worst case scenario, they’d see some “blood and guts”, break up a few fights, and try again.

Or something.

© Ruth Crisler and Spot Check, 2010.