Safely Introducing Your Dogs to Each Other

If you’re bringing a new dog into your existing dog’s territory, acting without caution could end with terrible results. First impressions have a lot of weight in dog relationships. In this article, we’ve laid out the steps to help your best friends become best friends.

Choose Neutral Territory

Be cautious when first introducing two dogs. Somewhere private and un-territorial, like a neighbour’s yard or tennis court, will eliminate any instinctually negative interaction between the dogs. The older of the dogs will naturally tend to be territorial towards your house so start the animals out on level ground. Avoid gates, doorways or confined spaces as freedom of space can reduce tension.

Keep Both Dogs Leashed

For the first meeting, keep both dogs on individual leads with a calm, adult handler. A tight leash can communicate fear or anxiety to your dog so make sure the lead is loose and there is a safe distance between the animals. Walk the dogs side by side and then cross paths, still maintaining a safe distance. Allow the dogs to adjust to each other’s presence and scent.

Let Them Meet Cautiously

If there is still no tension, allow the dogs to approach each other and pay close attention to their body language; your dogs will convey exactly how they are feeling. If either dog barks, lunges or snaps, contact a professional dog obedience trainer to teach you how to curb this aggression.

Once you’ve successfully introduced them in neutral territory, introduce them again in your own yard. Keep the older dog outside and allow the new dog to explore inside the house, getting a feel for their surroundings and eliminating anxiety. Finally, introduce the dogs inside. Keep each meeting short and sweet – if signs of tension appear, immediately separate the dogs and try again later.

End All Meetings on a High Note

If the meeting goes well and the dogs are getting along, let them play together for a few minutes and then end the session. Every interaction can change in a moment so you want to quickly form positive memories for each of the animals.

Pay Close Attention to Subsequent Behaviour

It will take a while for your dogs to adjust to each other’s scents and they should be capable of solving minor arguments between themselves. If they are protecting their favourite toy or a bowl of food, minor growling and aggression are acceptable. However, they should not be cutting off each other’s access to parts of the house or human family members. Dogs often change between dominant and submissive roles depending on the situation; humans are the only set leaders of the house. Reward good behaviour and stay vigilant to prevent conflict and the formation of bad habits.

To learn more about dog behavioural patterns or to get your canine obedience certificate underway, contact the NDTF online or call 1300 66 44 66.