There are few things more exciting than a new dog! There's a lot to consider before bringing your new pet home: whether it will pee all over the house, tear up furniture, or howl at three in the morning. If you already have a dog then one thing must definitely be considered. So, how do you go about properly introducing dogs to other dogs?
Perhaps your roommate already has a dog. Or maybe your friends are inviting you over to play with their furry friends. Whatever the situation, we're here to make sure that introducing dogs to each other is an enjoyable experience for all involved.
Do Dogs Naturally Get Along?
Have you ever wondered why there are more dog parks than cat parks? Well, it's because dogs are naturally more social animals! They love being around others and may often whine when left alone. However, on occasion, a dog's initial meeting with other dogs can be difficult.
For a dog, new situations can be worrisome without some form of reassurance from a trusted relation. This could mean a pat on the back from their owner, watching a dog they already know get along with a new animal, or meeting in a familiar setting. While canines are naturally inclined to work and play with one another, there is no universal answer.
Dogs may take on a more aggressive demeanor if they feel another dog is intruding on their territory, their family is under attack, or if they just flat-out do not care for a strange new pooch.
Do Certain Dog Breeds Dislike Other Dog Breeds?
While canines may not be drawn to one particular breed over another, two dogs are likely to enjoy each other's company if they have the same social skills and communicative abilities. This means that highly energetic dogs who yap a lot are likely to make a new dog friend that's also loud and lively.
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Breeds often share commonalities in energy reserves and personality. However, there's no guarantee that your dog will enjoy another canine of its own breed. After all, one Chihuahua might be a couch potato while another is bouncing off the walls.
Canines can also hold certain prejudices against breeds if they've had bad experiences with them in the past. When first meeting a new dog for a play-date, make sure that you're keeping in mind your pet's past experiences with the breed.
If a Maltese was attacked by a Greyhound, for example, that Maltese might not feel comfortable around other Greyhounds.
Do Male and Female Dogs Get Along?
Male and female dogs can absolutely be friends! In fact, males and females are less likely to fight than two dogs of the same gender. Though, that's not to say that two same-gendered pets are incapable of getting along.
Dogs have a natural ranking order in which dominant males and dominant females get along with each other, but not always with their own sex. It may take some training to condition two dominant males or two alpha females to live together, but it's well worth it.
Similarly, spayed and neutered pets are also less prone to aggressive behavior. This is because their bodies are no longer releasing hormones that promote irritability or fighting over a mate's attention. Spaying can also decrease a female dog's instinct to guard her puppies aggressively.
Do Adult Dogs Get Along With Puppies?
As we just mentioned, female dogs can have strong protective feelings for puppies. Male dogs will also look after young pups. But, either gender may resort to light aggression if a young pooch steps their paw over the line.
Nipping, growling, or physical dominance may be the older dog's response to over-eager puppies, but it's generally best to let the dogs sort it out. It is an opportunity for an older member of the same species to correct the little rascal, which can help the puppy's behavioral development.
Regardless of age, it is not a good idea to introduce your pet to a new dog and leave them alone. This is especially true for puppies because they may be too clumsy or energetic to understand when they're going too far. An older canine may just be trying to discipline the young dog, but it's best to be present to reduce the chances of rowdy behaviors escalating.
Do Large Breeds Get Along With Small Breeds?
Absolutely! Large breeds and small breeds are able to get along smoothly. As many owners know, some big breeds act like lapdogs, and some small-statured canines might try to take on the biggest animals on the block. Size is not always a factor when it comes to a dog's temperament.
However, just because big dogs can be friends with small dogs in house settings doesn't mean your Dachsund should go in the "big breed" area of dog parks. The section of a dog park reserved for larger breeds generally implies more socialism and playing, while the small breed area is sometimes called the "shy dog" zone.
If your furry friend would rather stretch their legs by roaming at their own pace and keeping to themselves, the small breed area might be best. If you have a large dog that is shy, be sure to ask other members of the small breed area if they are comfortable with a large breed around their lapdogs. And if they aren't, a leashed walk around a park or trail may be best for your pet.
Introducing Dogs to Each Other
Even if your pet tends to be reserved and quiet, social interaction is still essential. Just because two breeds don't have the exact same personality doesn't mean they won't like each other. A good introduction between a lazy dog and a hyper dog can mean more exercise for one, or less manic energy for the other. We won't really know until we try, so it's necessary to stay cautious and vigilant.
How to Introduce Two Dogs
Now that we're ready, let's figure out how to introduce new dog pals to each other. Remember to supervise the interaction, paying close attention to the body language of each dog.
- First, let the dogs sniff each other while leashed to ensure there is no negative outbursts. When dogs meet for the first time, it can be a good idea to take them both on a walk. This is because dogs are territorial and can feel threatened by a new dog on their turf. Neutral territory and some space apart (roughly 10 feet) can allow two pets to become used to each other's presence without invading each other's domains.
- Once they've gotten a feel for each other, it's time to mingle. Keep the territory neutral and the space confined (a tennis court or fenced park).
- Don't try to force the dogs to go near each other if they're keeping their distance. Let them set the pace, as comfort is critical in this situation.
- If you're bringing a new pet home, try keeping them separated with a gate when you're not able to supervise.
- Continue to positively reinforce their sociability with treats, and have patience. Just because the dogs are getting along one day doesn't mean they won't begin to distrust or aggravate each other the next. Slow down their interaction as needed, and eventually, they will feel comfortable enough around each other to no longer be separated!
Warning Signs When Introducing Dogs
If their body language includes teeth-baring, long stares, stiff legs, growling, or nipping, one pet may be getting aggressive. Growling may be playful, as we'll soon discuss, so you should only intervene if your dog is also displaying other signs of distress in addition to growling.
When the newly introduced canines are relaxed and amicable, offer treats to associate this behavior with a reward. If things are getting aggressive, calmly take your pet away from the new dog.
Roughhousing is common for canines, but just because they're enjoying themselves doesn't mean they're being safe. Overexcitement might lead to aggression if one dog thinks the other has gone too far. If play-fighting becomes more intense, or the pets begin to show aggressive body language, the dogs may need to take a break.
Is Growling Normal?
Growling itself is normal for dogs and often represents territoriality, possession, or aggression. Anyone who's ever played tug-of-war with their slobbery pal knows that growling doesn't always equal a fight.
Generally, playful growling is slightly higher in pitch and accompanied by the dog bending onto its front paws while raising its rear legs ("downward dog" for all you yogis). Wagging tails while growling is also a playful signal.
Growling that is joined by lunging or biting is usually indicative of the dog feeling uneasy or protective. After you've gotten to know your pet's voice, it will be easier to tell what their growl means. If you're ever unsure, consult a dog behaviorist or a veterinarian.
Humping or mounting behavior is often a sign of anxiety, stress, over-stimulation rather than sexuality. It's an attempt at dominance, and there are ways to positively redirect this behavior instead of resorting to negative reinforcement.
One of the best ways to weed out dominant behavior is through dog training. Even mastering the basics (sit, stay, lie down, loose leash walking, come) will remind your canine that you are in control.
Mounting dogs are usually over-excited, so be sure they have plenty of chew toys and access to exercise, so they are less likely to build up excessive vigor. Remove objects that are repeatedly getting humped until your pet stops the behavior, and keep them away from guests if it is becoming a problem.
If humping does occur, try to distract the dog with a "sit" or "lay down" command. When they do this, reward them, and they will have more of a pleasurable association with following your command than mounting your friend's leg.
There is a small chance that humping signals infection, irritation, or prostate problems in a male dog. If other behaviors such as fatigue, too much licking, chewing their own bodies, or changes in appetite also affect your pet, humping may be a symptom of something larger. A visit to the vet is wise in this case.
Helpful Tip: If you suspect a dog may become aggressive, fearful, or nervous while meeting other dogs CBD could help ease these behaviors during introductions and other hightened situations. See how CBD is useful for aggressive and fearful dogs here.
Positive Signs When Introducing Dogs
It can sometimes be hard to tell the difference between play-fighting and the real thing. We've discussed body postures that signify aggression, but what about positive behavior?
Perhaps the most universal signs of a happy canine is a big, open-mouthed grin and a wagging tail. This is often paired with hyper, bouncy movements, rather than the stiff body of an upset dog.
Many pets will also do the "downward dog" position when they're enjoying themselves (front end down, rear in the air). This movement involves patting the ground with their paws repeatedly to signal that they're ready to play. Another positive sign is the dog lying on its back, exposing its belly for rubbing.
As you introduce dogs, either of them may need extra reassurance from someone they trust. One dog may first need to feel the comfort of their owner's presence nearby when meeting another animal, while another might bound into new situations without a second thought. Both of these behaviors are normal.
Introducing Dogs to Each Other Quickly
You may still be wondering how to introduce new dogs to one another without having to go through a lot of trouble. While you will always have to supervise their interaction, a dog park is one of the quickest ways for your pet to feel comfortable around other canines. If there's a specific dog you want to introduce them to, a walk is perhaps the fastest way to acquaint them.
If you don't have the time to wait for your dog to become comfortable on a walk, you can offer guidance to speed things along:
- First, put each pet on a loose leash, as a tight lead may cause them to think you are anxious or fearful.
- Walk the canines in a straight line, one after the other. This practice allows each animal to sniff the others behind, which is a common way for dogs to identify one another.
- Once each pet has had a turn in front, walk them side by side with some space between them. Ideally, both dogs will begin to feel comfortable around one another.
- Start over if there is any lunging or snapping. If the dogs repeatedly try to fight each other, professional training might be necessary.
Final Thoughts - Introducing Dogs
When introducing dogs always keep in mind that each canine is unique. It can be hard to predict what will or won't rub each pet the wrong way. It's a good idea to take notes each time your canine reacts poorly to another animal.
Do they growl at the same sex, nip at a certain breed, or shy away from larger dogs? Getting to know your pet's personality and preferences will make their social lives even better. Start setting some play-dates, go in with a plan, and your dog will be the most popular pooch around in no time.