05 Mar Dog Behavior: Tips for Introducing Two Dogs
Dogs are naturally social creatures, but they are also territorial. When it comes time to introduce two dogs, a basic understanding of dog behavior can help ensure that the meet goes well.
Tips for Introducing Two Dogs
Once you know a bit about dog behavior, you’ll see that the snarling and growling that occurs during an initial meet may not signify aggression. Remember, that dogs are pack animals with a distinct hierarchy. There will always be an alpha animal when you bring two dogs together. In fact, I’ve seen families where the cat was the alpha dog.
So, the best thing to do when you are introducing two dogs together for the first time is to take it slow and remove any stressors.
Pave the Way
If possible, introduce something with the other dog’s scent before they meet in person. This allows your dog to familiarize themselves with the other animal in a non-stressful way.
Bring Them Together in a Neutral Place
Dogs are inherently territorial, and they are quite protective of their “turf”. With this in mind, it is best to introduce two dogs to each other in a non-threatening environment.
Let the dogs enjoy an open spot outdoors. They won’t feel confined, and the chances are that they have not already “marked” their claim. A dog park is a good place or a field. The idea is to make sure that both dogs have equal claim to the area.
The owners, or owner if you are bringing a new dog into your home, should make both dogs feel equally welcome.
To Leash or Not to Leash
Most trainers agree that a leash is not essential when two dogs meet and might even be detrimental. Owners tend to try and control the dogs’ interaction with the leash. This control prevents the dogs from doing what comes naturally.
If the idea of your dog unleashed makes you nervous, then another option is to put both dogs on a lead, but don’t hold the leash unless the need arises. If you do opt for this, then you must use one on each dog. Don’t leash one and not the other. This usually doesn’t end well.
Stay Relaxed and Let Them Do the Work
Dogs sniff each other, especially around the hindquarters. It’s natural, so don’t hover over them when they start doing it. They can sense their owner’s stress, which produces added anxiety in them. Let them get acquainted at their own speed, but be mindful of any signs that one is feeling threatened or showing large amounts of aggression.
Leave Your Animals to Their Own Devices
Dogs are social creatures and will play with each other when left alone. Don’t bring toys or treats that they could fight over. This initial meet is not a competition; it is an interaction. They should focus on getting acquainted. Dogs instinctually establish dominance, so let them figure it out. Don’t panic if there is some growling or snarling. The hierarchy is often set in a short period of time. You don’t get a say in this, so let nature take its course.
“Training a dog is an enjoyable experience with College for Pets. We work closely with you from start to finish to make sure that you and your new partner kindle the best relationship possible.”
MIKE ROBERTSON, OWNER
Since 1998, College for Pets has been helping owners train their dogs and other animals. They continue to be leading trainers of service dogs and therapy dogs in the states of New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont. If you would like more information on dog training classes, contact College for Pets today.