Dog Training: How to Introduce Your Dog to Another in Ten Easy Steps

Spring break finally worked its way around, the sun is shining, birds are chirping, and aunt Muriel and uncle Charlie decided to spend a few days with you before they head for the Bahamas. Turns out they have a dog too, a German shepherd: he’s young, spastic, and he’s been known to be dog reactive. Of course, we’d want everyone to get along, be merry, and sing Kumbaya for the next couple days of their stay. So, watch out for the dust cloud, I’m bringing out the manual!
Let me explain the best basic ways to introduce two dogs to each other. In this article, we’ll discuss the specific strategies I use to handle intense aggression and tension between two dogs. While I’m at it, I’ll get out the scale too. If you could rate your dog on a scale of zero to ten (ten being the most aggressive, zero being a sweet dog lover), what would they be? The techniques I’m about to teach you will work with dogs from the one to five range. As for dogs in the six to ten range…let’s just say they deserve a different article.

So, without any more delay, let’s talk about the best techniques to correctly introduce your dog to another in ten easy steps:

dog training

1. Have both dogs on a strong leash

You’re going to want to have complete control over the situation. Even if you have a dog that’s a perfect little angel, that doesn’t mean the other dog is one; without a leash, you’ll have no way to pull them apart should things get ugly. Do yourself and your dog a favor and keep them on leashes. Be your dog’s advocate.

2. Have the dogs walk “together”

I know you’ll be tempted to let the dogs meet, but do NOT  do that. Let me say it again, DON’T DO THAT! The reason why that’s such a bad idea is when two dogs approach each other their emotions run extremely high, good or otherwise, making it very risky. You and company should decide which direction you’re walking with one leading and the other following behind for the time being.

Dog walking

3. Praise your dog

Your entire existence for the moment should be helping your dog (and the other) relax throughout the instruction. The only way you’re going to do that is to be a supportive, and calming voice and presence to your dog. Any barking that they do is just their way of letting off steam, so don’t worry about it too much for now. While you’re walking, you’ll be letting off steam in a positive way as well as teach your dog an alternate route as opposed to a barky, aggressive, and spastic one. Think of it as saying “good job, pal, thanks for letting me know how you’re doing”.

dog training

4. Keep it movin’

One of the most difficult aspects of a doggy tea party is the intense emotions running between the two. If they’re focused solely on each other then there’s no way for the energy to dissipate. As long as you’re able to keep walking you can keep the energy flowing and make it less intense for your dogs. In a way, you’re stimulating their primal hunting nature, which is about being calm, assertive, and social.

walking dog

5. Carefully let them sniff each other while they’re walking

 If you’re following behind, it’s most likely that your dog will take the first whiff. This is a clear indicator that your dog is moving into hunting mode, which is a good sign. There may be a slight pause in the action, which is okay, but still, try to keep everything moving. The dog whose space bubble is popped will be reacting as well, so both of you need to keep vigilant with everything that’s occurring. After the “rear” dog sniffs the lead dog, it’s usually a good idea to switch positions so the lead dog can sniff the other’s behind. At this point you still want to avoid a total stand-still (which can lead to fighting), so just move past the other dog and get the walk moving again then let the other dog move in for their turn to sniff. Be sure to keep taking turns with the dogs and give both of them opportunities to lead the other over the stroll.

dog training

6. If one poops or tinkles, let the other dog have a sniff when the one is done with their business

It’s IMPERATIVE that the pooper is out of the way before the other gets to take a  sniff. Sniffing the leftovers is always an important exchange between two dogs; it’s like a way of communication. If they use the grass in front of each other, it means they’re getting used to being in each others’ presence.

dog poo

7. Watch for signs of play 

If one dog makes a play bow to the other, God has blessed you! But don’t just let them run wild just yet; keep them on leashes.  If you let them go frolic there’s a chance they’ll get tangled and the magical moment can turn into a nightmare. So keep walking with the leash and give them a chance to relax a little, and be happy.  It’s awesome that they’re getting to know each other and eventually be able to get along.

play dog

8. Take breaks and play with your dogs

Remember play is a good way to push your dog and help reduce the amount of stress that they’re feeling and give them a positive outlet for their insane energy. Make sure that you move the dogs away from each other before you do so, food or high-intensity play induced aggression is not something you want to happen between them. Play tug-of-war, give them a high energy moment, and let the dog win! Of course, you’ll also need a treat to trade for the tug toy when you’re done playing and ready to get back to walking.

dog playing

9. Give the dogs long, slow, massaging strokes down the length of their body 

Your overall goal is to get your dog as physically relaxed as you possibly can. Imagine you’re their massage therapist, give your dog that hundred plus dollar massage you’ve always wanted and put your dog in relaxing massage heaven.

dog massage

10. After you’ve been walking a while, and the dogs have had a chance to get to know each other multiple times over the course of the stroll, move to where you’re next to each other instead of behind 

The dogs don’t have to be right next to each other  (you can be in between your dog and the other), but what you do want is for all of you to be walking next to each other. It’ll give the dogs a chance to experience a more direct approach between the two of them while having a common directive, which is the walk.

walking together

Make a plan to walk together for at least thirty minutes when time permits and teach aggressive dogs a healthy way to get along and have a good relationship with other dogs that doesn’t involve a Mexican standoff.  After the walk, the dogs don’t necessarily have to have “free time” to play as your walk simply gave the dogs the chance to get to know one another in a less stressful way. By now they should be a little more relaxed and more tolerate to each other’s company, just remember to keep the indoor environment as relaxed and mellow as possible.

With that, I hope you’ve learned how to better handle and understand how to work your dog aggressive four-legged friends through their challenges. Was this information useful to you? Feel free to leave a comment in how my advice bettered your dog, or as a question if you’d like or contact me at Jami@BestPaws-Abilities.com.

Thank you so much for stopping by and have a wonderful day!

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