How to Train Your Dog to Accept Another Dog

How to Train Your Dog to Accept Another Dog
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon1-2 Days
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

Okay, so we’ll admit that we like staying home on a Friday night in our PJ’s, ordering Thai food and tuning out the rest of the world, just as much as the next person. In the company of our dogs of course, though. While not interacting with other people is a great choice for us humans from time to time, your dog is a different matter altogether.

In the wild, dogs are naturally pack animals and use their interactions with each other to form complex social structures. Dogs perform many tasks together in the wild. From hunting to sleeping to working together to raise young and protect their families, dogs frequently travel and operate with other dogs. It only makes sense, then, that teaching your pooch to accept another dog would be a critical behavior for your pet’s social well-being.

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Defining Tasks

If you’re bringing home a second dog into your household, it’s critical that you know how to properly introduce your current pet with your new companion. Setting the stage for positive interactions will help ensure doggy harmony in the future, lowering stress and preventing hassles such as gating and separating your canine family members.

Even if you don’t plan on bringing home a new dog any time soon, it’s inevitable that your furry friend will need to mind their manners around other dogs at some point in their lifetime. Dog parks are great sources of off-leash interaction and play. Veterinarians’ offices will typically have multiple patients waiting in the lobby to be seen and no trip to the pet store would be complete without the occasional friendly sniff. It’s essential to start your dog off as young as possible with good doggie manners and reserved interactions with other pooches in order to set the foundations for a lifetime of good behavior.

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Getting Started

Before you get started teaching your dog to be accepting of other canines, it’s important to point out that some pups should not be home taught. If your dog has previously displayed serious aggressive and potentially harmful or dangerous behavior you should enlist the services of a qualified canine behaviorist or trainer that specializes in aggression. You should never put yourself or a friend or family member at risk by creating a dangerous dog fight scenario.

If your dog hasn’t displayed previous aggressive tendencies, then training can begin and requires only a few special items to get you up and running. You should have a sturdy flat buckle collar and leash for all dogs. Stay away from pinch, prong or choke collars for introductions as you want to create as much positive reinforcement as possible. Toys and treats should be on hand but are reserved for more advanced interactions, after dogs have gotten to know each other, in order to avoid contention over these coveted items. Grab another adult to help introductions go smoothly and you’re ready to try out one of our training methods for teaching dogs to accept another pooch in their lives.

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The On Leash Walking Method

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On Leash Walking method for How to Train Your Dog to Accept Another Dog
1

Burn off excess energy

Introducing your dog to another pup on leash is a great way to build up acceptance and can be done in your backyard or on neutral ground. Start off by walking each dog individually to use up their excess energy and let them acclimate.

2

Long distance interactions

Once your dog is relaxed and chugging along on your walk, bring both pups within eyesight but still well away from each other. Keep walking in parallel until both dogs calm down and are indifferent to the other pup.

3

Get a little closer

Walk the dogs closer together, close enough so that you and the other dog walker could have a conversation but not close enough that the dogs can touch. Aim to keep 5-10 feet between dogs and continue walking until both animals calm down and seem indifferent to the other’s presence.

4

Time for the sniff test

While continuing to walk, slowly bring the dogs within sniffing distance of each other. It’s important that you keep both dogs moving at a slow, steady pace and that you and the other walker do not change your speech or other behaviors. This will help each pooch feel as if nothing important, special, or different is happening and will reduce stress and worry.

5

Bring everyone together

If the previous steps have gone well, it’s time to allow the dogs to interact on leash. While continuing walking, allow the dogs to be in close enough proximity to interact with each other. Keep walking slowly and steadily and be sure not to change any other behavior. This can be repeated over multiple days and is an especially handy strategy for teaching to accept strange dogs that won’t be a permanent resident of the home.

The Neutral Place Method

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Neutral Place method for How to Train Your Dog to Accept Another Dog
1

Selecting neutral ground

Introducing dogs on neutral ground is a great method for introducing a new dog to an existing household. Often times, dogs will become territorial of their own turf. Start out in an unfamiliar park, path, or other open setting.

2

Make an arc

Start off with both dogs on leash and slowly walk them in the vicinity of each other in arcing paths. The dogs should only come within 20 feet of each other or so.

3

Get a little closer

Gradually decrease the distance between dogs so that you are walking them within sniffing distance of each other. Each time your dog nears the other, treat and praise, teaching your dog a positive association with coming into the vicinity of another canine.

4

First contact

Work your dog up to meeting the other dog on your final arc. Both dogs should be on leash at this point, but only be allowed brief contact with the other.

5

Allow full interaction

After both dogs have indicated they are accepting the other pooch in their personal space, allow both dogs to interact the next time they come in contact with each other. Sniffing, playing, and minor mouthing should all be allowed. If the level of interaction is becoming too excited, bribe the dogs away with treats and praise. Follow these steps and your dog will be accepting others in no time.

The Home with Boundaries Method

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Home with Boundaries method for How to Train Your Dog to Accept Another Dog
1

Prep your home

Before bringing your new pooch into the house, do a little preparation. Set up baby gates, x-pens and crates so that you’ll have plenty of places for your dogs to view, smell and hear each other without interacting.

2

Hear no evil

Position both dogs in different rooms or areas of the house where they can hear and smell the other but can’t see or otherwise interact. The intent is to let each dog slowly acclimate to the other’s presence without causing undue stress or alarm.

3

Meeting through the gate

Once both dogs seem calm knowing the other is in the house, progress towards allowing interaction through a baby gate, x-pen, or other barrier. This will allow your pups to interact without feeling threatened. Pay attention to body language in this step. You should see relaxed tail wagging, licking of lips, and heads turned away from each other before you progress.

4

On-leash interaction

After the dogs seem to be adjusting and accepting each other well through a gate, start introducing them on leash in the house. The leash provides a safety mechanism in case things don’t go quite as smoothly in person as they did through obstructions. Allow the dogs to approach and sniff with caution. Always remember to treat and lure away rather than pull, as this could create unwanted aggression or aversion to meeting other dogs.

5

Release the hounds

If all has gone well up until this point, it is now safe to allow the dogs to interact without leashes. You should attach the smallest leash possible to your dogs’ collars in order to have a method of restraint in case one dog is not as accepting as they should be of the other. Owners should be aware that it takes up to two weeks for dogs to become acclimated to a new home. After all goes well during this honeymoon period, you will have a pooch that is accepting of other dogs.

By Amy Caldwell

Published: 10/17/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Coco

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PitBull/ Lab

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1 Year

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Question

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Hi- I’m trying to solve a problem well my dog she’s usually a very interactive dog she’s usually lets people come up to her and dogs but today we had another Labrador come to greet her and she’s a puppy and my dog has meet her and been around her without a problem but when she saw again today my dog was trying to attack her which my dog (coco) has never done ever we’ve trained for that ever since a little puppy today was her first time trying to attack this little puppy. What do I do in this situation? We also helped my dog by walking them and reintroduce and she lets come to her but when the puppy comes to face to face to my dog (coco) . My dog still wants to attack, im not sure what to do I want to correct her behavior. What can I do?

June 16, 2022

Coco's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Ana, How old is the puppy? With puppies, most dogs will give a grace period, where they will tolerate a lot of rude behavior from a puppy because they are young and learning. Once young puppies reach a certain age, older dogs will begin to be less tolerant of any rude behavior from the puppy, and expect them to interact according to certain doggie social standards - expecting the puppy to not stand over the older dog, not rush at the older dog's face, not stay in the older dog's face for too long, not refuse to let the older dog sniff their bottom also (the dog equivalent of a hand snake - which should be mutual), and not display any overly dominating, challenging posturing during the interaction. More mature adults who are well socialized are often better at tolerating these and more patient in the way they correct. An immature adult might be impulsive and intolerant of such rude behavior. 1-2 years is also when dog aggression is more likely to surface because of mental and sexual maturity, even when the dog is spayed or neutered, and especially if a female is not spayed and about to go into heat or already in heat. How has she responded to other dogs since then? Sometimes two specific dogs simply don't like each other even if they get along with others. I would start by introducing to a basket muzzle so you can practice safely. If the issue is only with that one dog, you would need to be able to practice with that friend and their dog. With the basket muzzle in place, I would practice the passing approach method from the article below. I would pay attention to how the puppy is interacting with her and whether the puppy is part of the issue too - although that doesn't excuse her lack of tolerance, addressing pup's rude behavior if present, could help with future introductions if both dogs are worked with on their own training needs. https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs If the issue is generalizing to other dogs too, I would start working on a lot of structured obedience, so pup learns to look to you for instruction instead of making their own decisions around other dogs. Sometimes a young adult who lacks impulse control needs a lot of extra boundaries and instruction at this age, and it needs to be at an advanced obedience level for them to respond to you even while aroused around other dogs. Check out trainers like Sean O Shea from the good dog and Thomas Davis from america's canine educator on youtube and online to see some examples of different types of aggression being diagnosed and worked with. How you train depends a lot on the type of aggression and individual dog. If pup isn't spayed, I would get her spayed to help level out hormones, which can be very related to overly strong reactions toward other dogs, especially other females in general, and males when in heat. If she is in heat, keep her away from all other dogs for the next 2-3 weeks. Basket muzzle introduction with treats: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJTucFnmAbw Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

June 16, 2022

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Lola

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Jack Russell

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7 Years

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I have Lola since 6 weeks she has a lovely temperament and I have had no issues with her. I am looking to take my friends guide dog after she retires this year. These dogs do know each other well and go on walks together no problem When the guide dog Skye comes to my house Lola doesn’t like it she will sit on my knee and show her teeth when Skye sits by me she is stiff and no relaxed at all. How can I integrate Skye into my home without causing Lola or Skye any stress Kind regards Rachael

Jan. 29, 2021

Lola's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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Hello Rachael, It sounds like Lola is actually acting possessive of you. I would start by gentle building Lola's respect for you ahead of time so that she doesn't feel like she can guard you from the other dog, but instead takes her instructions from you. Check out the three methods from the article I have linked below, as well as work on teaching Lola commands like Leave It, Off, Out, Place, and Down ahead of time. Respect methods- recommend all three https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Heel- Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Off- section on The Off command: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-train-dog-stay-off-couch/ I recommend practicing the Walking Together method from the article I have linked below with both dogs if your friend lives nearby now. Work on getting both dogs working together via a structured heeling walk, where both are expected to focus on their owners and heel behind your leg during the walk while around each other. If Lola isn't already great at heeling, check out the Turns method from the article I have linked above. https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs When they first start living together, I would have both spend a lot of time on their separate Place beds, calmly coexisting that way. Crate or confine both away from each other when you can't supervise. Not allow either on the furniture or onto your lap unless invited, and generally you be the one to make and enforce house rules for both, so that neither is trying to control the actions of the other dog, but obeying your house rules. I would start structured and with lots of boundaries, walking them together to help bonding, and giving more liberties as they show they can be respectful of each other and are comfortable with each other, listening to your rules for how they should interact. You can reward both with a treat when the other dog isn't looking when you catch either being calm and tolerant around the other dog - but keep your rewards sneaky because you don't want either rushing over and causing a fight over food. You simply want to encourage good manners around each other. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Feb. 2, 2021


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