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Making Friends – Introducing Dogs To Each Other

Posted August 19, 2016

Thinking about getting a playmate for your dog?  This sounds easy in theory, but some dogs just do not share the same excitement and can be very jealous of a new arrival, creating competition and fights.  We think that there is nothing better than two animals being best friends, which is why we have provided a few suggestions below for easier ways to introduce dogs to each other. The three general rules of thumb remain the same as for cat-cat introductions and cat-dog introductions as we have discussed in our previous blogs.

General rules of thumb:

  1. Do it gradually.
  2. Make a proper introduction, but allow them to determine the pace
  3. Allow them to establish their own hierarchy – it is only natural, although you may need to paly referee at times

Some dog breeds are naturally friendlier than others and the age of the dog may play a role as well.  An elderly dog may not be as enthusiastic about a new puppy as the puppy is to have a new friend.  This can be very exhausting for the elderly dog and patience could become very short – similar to us humans.  Introductions between dogs are a bit different as they can often be territorial.  If you feel that your new or existing dog is not going to fare well with the introduction, you can try giving them NHV Matricalm for a couple of days prior and the day of the meeting as this will help to calm aggression and ease agitation and is even safe for puppies.

Neutral Territory.

Instead of introducing your dogs at home, where one has previously claimed as its territory, one easy method is to take them for a walk in neutral territory.  Most aggression and stress comes from one dog feeling as though another is in their territory.  Let’s face it, growing up, we’ve all felt this way about our siblings being in our space from time to time, and that probably didn’t go so well either.  One way around this is to start off in a place that nobody “owns”.  Take them to a neutral enclosed area (fenced in ballpark, friend’s back yard, etc.). Try to use a park that neither has been to, or a dog park that they are used to seeing other dogs at.  Let one dog out to roam around while the other is out of sight, then switch and do this for the other.  Once both have gotten used to the area and the other’s scent, you can release both dogs.  They should see this as a friendly encounter and should have a positive meeting.

An alternative to this is if you have a partner, each can take a dog for a walk in a neutral territory.  Whichever area you choose, always start with leashes on, even if they are used to running around the dog park in complete freedom.  When walking the dogs, start with either walking one in front of the other, or parallel, leaving distance between.  Walking parallel will allow both dogs to see the other dog’s demeanor before actually meeting.  

Gradually Close In.

Gradually close the gap allowing for the dogs to control the pace.  If walking one in front of the other, this will allow the dog in the back to smell the dog in front of them.  If necessary you can trade places and let the other dog walk behind for a bit.  Once they get used to each other’s scent, you can bring them closer together so that they can smell each other in more detail (yes we are talking butts).  This will tell them a lot about each other and will act as an introduction.  If tails are wagging and the engagement is friendly they may even start to play together – this is ideal.  If at any time they display agitated or aggressive signals or body language, you may need to increase the distance and try a slower approach.  Once they get to know each other and can spend some time together in neutral territory, they are more likely to get along at home.  

Make the Trek Home.

Depending on their engagement and the size of the vehicle if you are transporting them home, you may need to take them home in separate vehicles to reduce any tension of being in a small space together.  When you first arrive home, ensure that there are no toys or treats that the dogs can fight over.

Keep in mind that at home, some small signs of aggression, like slight growling or barking, but no actual attacking may just be determination of hierarchy and establishing the pecking order between themselves in order to live together.  After all, we do know that with dogs there is always a leader of the pack.  

Some pets have an extremely hard time with change and have a very difficult time adjusting.  If you have a dog that cannot seem to get along with the new pet and the introduction process is not going well, you may need to seek the professional advice from a dog trainer or behaviour consultant.

Don’t forget to reward and encourage good behaviour.  Delicious and nutritious treats like My Little Wolf Salmon-Licious treats or My Little Wolf Turkey Bliss treats work well!

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*Product reviews are solely the experience and opinion of the reviewer. Actual results may vary.