Introducing Al to strange dogs -- on their turf, or on neutral territory?

I have an invitation to go hiking with 2 Belgian malinois.  Nice mellow dogs, Gwynnie's met them.  Al has not.

Al will occasionally attack another dog -- lunge, snap, press the attack, no blood drawn yet as far as I know --  without any provocation.  Usually it's a larger dog.  Can't say if it's always males.  Some invisible switch flips, and he turns from Dr. Jekyl into Mr. Hyde in an instant.  He'll life a lift first, but he hardly even growls a warning.  He doesn't know how to say "Back off!"

So I have to keep him on a close leash with a careful eye on him.

Would it be better to introduce him to them on neutral territory (at the trailhead), or at their home, on their turf? 

I was invited to drive to their house the night before and crash in the guest room in order to get an early start on a long hike (Al would sleep in his crate if we did this).   I was wondering whether this would be too overwhelming -- he's never met them, it would be their territory, he'd be immersed in their smells, etc.

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Maddie is a bit insecure herself so when another dog snarks, she will argue back and a scuffle sometimes ensues (all noise, no teeth).   Jack is Mr. Confident and when another dog snarks, he just turns away and sniffs the ground to say "I mean you no harm" and therefore calms the whole situation down.

Funny thing is, Jack is fairly dominant with other dogs.  He's never been in a fight (he's been charged a few times, but that's by crazy dog-aggressive dogs, nothing he's done).  Maddie is super submissive but because she's a little uncertain, she's been in a few minor scuffles (always with another insecure dog).

I think it's a combination of natural personality and early exposure.  Because of where we live, Jack was exposed to dozens of dogs in his early socialization window.  Maddie came from a different background and probably didn't meat so many new dogs, though she lived with a bunch. 

Glad to hear things went so well!  One sensible confident dog can usually manage to avoid conflict with all but the most extremely aggressive dogs, simply by refusing to engage.  

It's always nice to be around a knowledgeable, understanding dog owner that is willing to help out with certain issues. Maybe she could start a reform school for wayward corgis.  Austin would be in the inaugural class.

It's great to hear Al is back on the trail, he always gives us something to aim for.

You had better watch your back packs around Lexus, though.  She uses the corgi as a decoy and while everybody is oohing and aahing over the little dwarf she goes rummaging.

That's great that everything went so well... (and that Al's knee did ok!).   I'm with Ivy - this was a very informative discussion, especially since it sounds like Chewey is a lot like Al.   Although he's improved somewhat (in that I can get him to walk on leash without lunging at every dog ;-<), I suspect I'll  still always have to be hyper alert around dogs he doesn't know.    I've always wondered whether it was just his temperament or lack of socialization when he was younger, but I guess that will just remain a mystery.

I'll have to check out the book that Beth recommends...  


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