How to Introduce Your Dog to a New Dog
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Although dogs are social creatures, that does not necessarily mean they get along with every member of their species. Sometimes conflicts can arise, especially when two or more dogs are first introduced. These problems are often caused by a lack of social skills, difficulty sending or interpreting communication signals, or overexcitement. Often, the dog's caregivers are to blame because they do not know how to handle the situation. A common example of this is when they force the dogs to interact with each other despite their dog's discomfort. It is natural to want our dogs to interact, play, and socialize with other dogs, but first we need to learn how they communicate.
In this AnimalWised article, we will give you some tips on how to properly introduce two dogs. We also explain some of the most common mistakes dog owners make so you can avoid them yourself.
What to know before introducing two dogs
The dog is a social animal, which means it needs contact and interaction with other people and other dogs. However, sometimes conflict can occur when two dogs are introduced to each other and the situation can escalate to a fight. The first step to avoid such conflicts is to get to know your dog very well, including his temperament, preferences and social skills. This may be easier if you raised the dog as a puppy. If you have adopted an adult dog or are considering doing so, you should learn as much as you can about its past. Some of the reasons your dog may have difficulty communicating with others include: early separation from his mother, lack of socialization, isolation, abuse, physical pain, hormonal changes, traumatic experiences, and even genetics.
As a caregiver, you should learn to recognize the signs of tension that your dog and other dogs emit when they are in an uncomfortable situation. Dogs normally use their facial and body expressions to communicate with each other before they get into a fight. If you know how to recognize these movements, you can intervene and prevent a fight.Some of the signs that lead to a possible fight are the following:
- Hard and fixed gaze.
- Tense muscles.
- Immobility or very slow gait.
- Stiff and high tail.
- Upright head and ears pointing forward.
- Firmly clenched jaw.
- Wrinkled muzzle with teeth.
- Quiet grunting.
Dog sneakers and ethologists can help you better understand and communicate with your dog if they have behavior problems or if you just want to understand them better.
If you are interested in learning more about what to do when two dogs fight, don't miss this article on how to stop two male dogs from fighting.
How to introduce two dogs in a public place
While you are walking your dog, is very likely that other dog owners may also be walking their dogs. This can be a great opportunity for your dog to socialize. Before approaching a dog, pay close attention to the body language of both dogs. When in doubt, it is best to ask the other owner if you may approach. Even if your dog is friendly and outgoing, you do not know the temperament of the other dogs.
Even if the other owner says yes, you should never force a direct approach if you notice signs of tension, uncertainty or fear in either dog. If one of the animals approaches abruptly and pushily, the other may not handle it well and could react in an undesirable manner. In cases where your dog is overly excited or nervous, continue walking and let them sniff and explore. Once your dog has calmed down, you can retry to introduce them to other dogs.
As long as the dogs involved are relaxed, you can approach them slowly. Make sure they do not tighten the leash at any time. Dogs with good social skills that do not want to start a fight will avoid direct eye contact and will not approach head-on. Instead, they will detour to get to the other's side and sniff their rear end. Depending on the animal's level of excitement, the tail will move at different heights and speeds and the facial expression will seem friendly and relaxed.
If you want to end the interaction, you should wait until one of the dogs decides to do so and move on. If neither dog seems willing to do so or if they begin to play too intensely, you can try to get your dog's attention as you walk away. Attempting to end the interaction by pulling the dog off leash, grabbing him, or lifting him up should be avoided as much as possible.
How to introduce two dogs at home?
We should consider a number of things when we bring a second dog into our home or when we take our dog into someone else's home. The sudden intrusion of an unfamiliar dog into an area the dog considers its own can lead to conflict, especially if the two dogs already know each other and have had a strained relationship in the past.
Conflict can be avoided by introducing the dogs in a neutral location, such as the park or the street. Once the dogs have met and sniffed each other, it is best to take them for a walk so they can get to know each other better and relax. They should then go home together and the invited dog should entering first so that they have the chance to explore the space without the other dog present. Once we see that they are both comfortable in each others company, we can let them interact freely. If you are still concerned about one of the dog's reaction, then you can build a physical barrier between the animals at home, such as a fence or an auxiliary door.
If we house more than one dog, we must always remember that there should be more valuable resources than dogs. We should provide several separate beds, feeding stations, waterers and a sufficient amount of toys so that the dogs do not feel forced to defend or fight for a resource.
If you want to know how to introduce a dog to your newborn baby, read this article on what to do when your dog meets your baby.
Common mistakes when introducing two dogs
In many cases, a fight between two dogs originates from poor management on the part of the owner rather than a real problem between the animals themselves. Our actions, movements and words can unintentionally cause dogs to fight without us realizing it. Here are a few mistakes dog owners make that can lead to a dog fight:
- Showing signs of nervousness: If your dog has exhibited reactive behavior in the past, has trouble interacting with other dogs, or has already been involved in a fight, it is very likely you will be nervous whenever you encounter other dogs. Sweating, a tighter leash, or a change in your pace and tone of voice are all signals that can put your dog on alert and cause him to react even more violently.
- Tighten the leash:Dog owners tend to toss their dog away from another animal during an introduction if they are unsure of their dog's reaction. Many people do not realize that tension in the leash can start a fight between two leashed dogs because it does not allow them to move freely and interferes with their communication. If one of the dogs is wearing a punishment collar or other uncomfortable restraint, such as a muzzle hook, the situation is made worse.
- Walking your dog off-leash: If you walk your dog off-leash, make sure you do so in an area where other off-leash dogs are not allowed. If not, make sure your dog is well trained and that will not approach other dogs under any circumstance. Even if your dog is sociable, you do not know if the other dogs are sociable or well trained.
- Going to the park too often:When it comes to socializing your dog, it's the quality, not the quantity, of the interactions that matter. Taking your dog to a dog run every day can be counterproductive because it is a confined space where many dogs of different ages, sizes, and temperaments congregate. Also, dogs tend to crowd into the enclosure to greet intrusively, which can make the situation worse. In these places, sometimes there is a lot of tension between dogs, so it can easily happen that one of them starts a fight, which can be joined by other dogs.
- Overprotecting the dog: Especially in the case of small dogs, owners are often afraid that another animal may harm their dog, so they pick it up or abruptly separate it from the other dogs to prevent this from happening. In this way, the dog may learn that other dogs are a threat and develop behavioral problems resulting from insecurity and fear.
If you want more advice on what to do when two dogs don't get along, keep reading this article on what to do when two dogs don't get along.
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