Similar to us humans, dogs are highly social animals and are well adapted to living in groups. Socialising with their own species is a vital process that helps in their behavioural and mental development. If left alone, its detrimental effects will not only affect the dog, but will also bleed into your home. Not prepping your dog for interaction with other pups will come back to bite you, especially if you’re planning to introduce a new dog into your current family.
Dog to dog encounters can easily end up in a display of aggressive behaviours or even a fight for dominance. Thus, it’s crucial that you prepare an environment wherein both parties can learn to live together harmoniously. If you’re at a loss, don’t fret just yet! Here are a few tips you can employ to encourage bonding of two dogs or even more!
1. Introduce The Dogs To Each Other
Most dog owners make the mistake of introducing two dogs from the get-go by leaving them in the same compound to bond on their own. Whilst this may work, oftentimes, this approach usually backfires.
Dogs are essentially territorial animals. Introducing a new dog without any prep work may be deemed as a shock or even an invasion of the territory. To protect what is considered as theirs, your current dogs may display aggressive tendencies, thus putting your new dog in danger. To prevent this from happening, start by walking both of them together in a neutral territory before you home your new dog permanently, if you are able. Doing so will allow them to greet each other and familiarise themselves with each other’s scent. With that said, always remember to leash the two dogs and walk them separately, lest they threaten one another with each other’s presence. If you see any body behaviour that might’ve suggested as such, quickly separate them. Do these daily walks until they are tolerant of each other before you can bring them home.
2. Keep The Dogs Separated At First
Similar to the dog walks, the same temporary isolation approach needs to be employed at home. Instead of putting them in the same kernel or having them to share the same dog bowl, give them their own separate space and items. The same goes for training too. Since these dogs aren’t particularly familiar with each other, letting them feel comfortable at their own pace is even more crucial now that they’re in a smaller and constrained space. To make things slightly easier, consider getting a baby gate! This will allow the dogs to see each other without giving them any access to each other’s spaces.
3. Establish Dominance
Dogs live in a linear hierarchy system and delegating positions within their pack system is a natural procedure. Each pack will have a leader that dominates and followers that follow.
When introducing a new pup into the mix, there will be a disruption in the pack system, and thus, there will be a need for restructuring and reconfiguring. Your new dog will naturally compete to be the top dog. Regardless of the structure of the pack, you will need to hold the reigns by displaying pack leader qualities so that the dogs will feel secure. This means giving the appropriate amount of attention such as limited petting and hugging as drowning them with acts of affection may be misconstrued as submissive behaviour. Thus, training them to work for treats or affection, and the implementation of calming signals will not only increase your status in the pack, but also reduce tension and create harmony.
4. Supervision And Training
When you deem it safe for the dogs to interact freely, make sure to keep a lookout and supervise them. It’ll take them a few months for them to feel comfortable with each other and fights may even break out during the process. Thus, you will need to be there to prevent any escalation.
To reduce the chances of fights happening, it’s best to give your dog obedience training. Making your dogs learn basic obedience commands such as, ‘sit’, ‘down’ and ‘stay’ is crucial as it lets you have better control over your pup. It’ll take time and effort to see satisfactory results, so you’ll need to be patient.
5. Watch Out For Body Posture
Dogs interact with each other via their body postures and it’s the first telltale sign to what they might be feeling or thinking. If you see signs of aggressive behaviour such as teeth-baring, ears forward and a stiff tail, you’ll need to intervene and separate the dogs lest you or your dog will get hurt. Resume the interaction only once they’ve calmed down.
6. Give Each Dog Equal Attention
If you’re getting another dog, you’ll need to give your existing and new dogs equal attention each day. It may be tempting to give your new pup more attention, especially if you’ve picked them up from a shelter with a pet adoption service, but being selective and biased will cause tension within the pack. Thus, allocate equal playing time, walking time and even training time for each of your dogs.
7. Be Patient
Like us humans, dogs need time to familiarise themselves with their new environment. The time required for your dogs to get used to each other will largely depend on their personalities. Let the dogs figure out how to navigate around their new relationship and hopefully, with time and effort, your dogs will be the best of friends!