Dogs are social creatures and it’s in their nature to try and seek out interaction. If you have a dog, you are probably anxious to have it make new friends. You also want it to get along with other dogs in the neighborhood.
Placing two dogs close without introducing them first can be a recipe for disaster. Barking, clawing and all-out brawling can result. If you want to socialize your dog, you’ll have to lay the groundwork for their social interaction.
Think of your dog’s social interactions as you would think of your own dealings with other people. Dogs have a sense of personal space and can become frustrated when others come within it.
Some dogs make friends more easily than others. However, almost all dogs are social and have the capacity to be friendly with other dogs. Socializing is also necessary for your dog’s health and development.
Barring some dog anxiety, which isn’t a rare phenomenon, you should be able to introduce two dogs and have them get along well. Your furry friend will need to possess the skills to socialize with other dogs as you go on your walks.
Lucky for you, dogs actively try to seek out contact with humans and animals. Introducing two dogs is as easy as following a few steps to make the introduction safe and productive.
Introducing Dogs to Each Other
You don’t need a dog trainer in order to get two dogs to interact. Letting two dogs approach each other without a plan will almost certainly end up in a fight.
There are a few different cases where you would want to introduce two dogs. Perhaps you are bringing a new dog home for the first time. You’ll need to get your current pet acquainted with your new dog.
A more common case is when you’re just walking your dog. Other people will be walking with their dogs and encountering them is inevitable. Also, you may have to leave your dog with a friend for a couple of days. If they also have a dog, you’ll need to get the two acquainted before you depart.
Try implementing the following tips and you should be on your way to getting your dog to make friends.
Start off With Some Distance
When trying to introduce dogs to one another, make sure you start with both of them on a leash. If either or both animals aren’t restrained, there’s bound to be some aggression.
Put some distance between the two – a retractable dog leash is a helpful tool here. Dogs are territorial and placing them next to each other will only heighten tensions. Give the two animals enough space so that they do not feel threatened by the other’s presence.
Keep the two dogs apart when they are eating. Using opposite corners of a room should be fine. Food is a point of contention for most animals and dogs are no different.
In the case that you are bringing a new dog into your home, use a baby gate to keep the two pets separate. It’s not a problem if they can see each other, just don’t use the gate as a separator. There should be adequate space between them.
Take Them for a Walk
Taking the two dogs for a walk is kind of like two people meeting at a bar for the first time. It is a period where the dogs will be introduced to each other before meeting up close.
The dogs should be walking in single-file with one person leading each animal. You or your friend starts off walking with their dog and the other person follows at a distance of a few paces.
Be Understanding of Your Dog
Your dog is a bundle of energy and it’s anxious to interact with others. Your objective is to get your dog to relax. Be supportive of your furry friend and understand that their hyperactivity is just a way of expressing their energy.
Be supportive and praise your dog no matter their reaction. Even if it gets a little aggressive, reassure your dog that you’re there for support.
Don’t Make It About Them
If you were trying to introduce two human friends of yours, it would be awkward if you led with that. Having them both in front of you and saying something like: “I thought you two would make a good couple, so here we are” would make it uncomfortable for them.
Think of introducing two dogs working similarly. If you make the interaction about them, the situation will devolve into a struggle for dominance. Keep it moving and keep their focus on their surroundings rather than on each other.
Dogs come from wolves and their hunting nature is still a part of their nature. By walking the two dogs together, you are tapping into this instinct. Walking together resembles being on the hunt and serves as a bonding exercise.
Let the Dogs Sniff Each Other
As the two dogs become accustomed to each other’s presence, let them have a sniff at each other. At first, don’t allow for this interaction to go on for more than a few seconds.
The dog that is following should approach the lead dog and have a sniff. Keep walking and have the follower move ahead and lead the walk. Repeat the sniffing interaction with the second dog. The secret is keeping the exercise moving so that tensions do not flare.
Don’t Let a Poop or Pee Opportunity Go to Waste
Dogs’ sense of smell is very developed (1). That is why you see them constantly stopping and sniffing utility poles, fire hydrants, and anything they can put their noses up to. The sense of scent is also their way of understanding things about the world and the people and animals they interact with.
If one of the dogs urinates or poops, let the second dog have a smell. While humans find it disgusting, for dogs it’s the equivalent of leaving a business card. When the dogs get to the point of eliminating in the presence of the other, they are likely to be ready to begin interacting.
Bring Down Your Dog’s Energy Level
Helping to alleviate aggression should be something you do throughout the initial stages of the interaction. However, as the dogs get more familiar with each other, make it a point to bring down their energy levels. Make sure their leashes don’t become tangled and keep them walking as long as you notice excess energy.
Take breaks in your walk and pet them. Keep in mind where dogs like to be pet – long strokes across their backs will help them relax. You’ll be able to pick up signs that they’re ready to interact and move to the final step of the introduction.
Bring the Two Dogs Closer
At this point, the two dogs should be ready to walk next to one another. Their energies are aligned and they are on the hunt in unison. Try to keep walking like this for at least half an hour. This will cement their bond and allow them to operate as a team.
Keep in mind that getting two dogs to accept one another takes time, patience, and understanding. Start from a place of love and make sure you have the time in your schedule so that you don’t become frustrated. After all, you’re doing this for your furry friend as much as you’re doing it for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you introduce two dogs when one is aggressive?
If you follow the process, you shouldn’t have trouble introducing two dogs. If one dog is aggressive, it simply means you need to make a few adjustments. Give the two dogs more space between them and try harder to reduce the tension in the aggressive dog. Reassure it and take a little extra time.
How long does it take for dogs to get used to each other?
Some dogs will hit it off on their first day. Most of the time, though, you will need about a month for two dogs to get used to each other.
How do you get two dogs to like each other?
If you provide both dogs with positive reinforcement and follow the steps of the process, two dogs will eventually grow fond of each other. It is in dogs’ nature to exist in packs. You are just helping the two dogs along by introducing them.
What is the best way to introduce dogs to each other?
Take it slow and try to activate their common hunting instincts. Don’t try to rush the process and keep bringing their energy levels down.