Because big dogs can be intimidating, some small dogs might be a little fearful of your big guy. Big dogs also don't always know their size. Big dogs will try to fit into small spaces thinking that is their size, and big dogs will try to play the same way small dogs play, not truly understanding the size difference between the two. This could also mean your big dog plays a little rougher and your little guy could become injured or even stepped on.
Training your big dog to get along with a small dog is imperative, especially if you have big and small dogs in your household. They should be able to get along. They should be friends. And hopefully, if you play your cards right, they should play together too.
Training your big dog to get along with your small dog will also include training your small dog to get along with your big dog. Some small dogs are definitely bigger than their bite and can stand on their own, but others are timid, shy, and fearful. This demeanor may encourage your big dog even more. Put these two dogs on the same level when you are training them both and work with them at the same time. Be sure to offer both a treat at the same time if possible. If you give one dog a treat, be sure to give the other dog a treat. This will teach the two dogs that they are both equal in the household.
You will need lots of tasty treats to train your dogs to play together and be nice to one another. You will also need patience and training time with a big dog and a small dog. If you don't own both big dogs and small dogs, but you still want them to get along, try to find a small dog that you can introduce your big guy to, so he knows that there are dogs of all sizes out in his world and he needs to know how to interact with them. You can do this by organizing play dates through your groomer or veterinarian, or you can take your dog to a dog park and see if anyone is interested in introducing their little guy to your big guy. Be sure to have treats for both dogs at all times.
The problem I am having with Bambi is her being aggressive towards a new dog. I do have another dog that she gets along fine with (he's the black dog). A couple times we had a "sleepover" with my friends dog and she was not having it at all. We tried separating them in different rooms so that they could sniff each other under the doors. When we eventually let them all out, she would want to sniff the new dog, but wouldn't let him sniff her so she would growl and try to bite him. My other dog got along fine with the new one, but she didn't. I want to try and fix this problem because I'm planning on rescuing a bigger dog, but I'm not sure if I can with her like this.
Hello Tessa, If you can find a G.R.O.W.L. class in your area I think that she would really benefit from attending that class. The class is for reactive and aggressive dogs who all wear muzzle's during the class for safety and they are intensively socialized at a quicker pace. Her aggression sounds mild compared to some but the socialization in that type of safer environment would probably really benefit her. I also suggest practicing her heel (where you are leading the walk, she has to walk right next to you, and focus on you) with others who are doing the same. The structure of the walk and being in the following mindset while around the other dogs would be a good, calm way to socialize her probably. only walk her, have other owners handle their own dogs. She needs to work on tolerance but for her that probably needs to look like structure, following your lead, and generally getting used to being around a variety of dogs while everything is controlled (opposed to off-leash unstructured play like a dog park - which could make the problem worse). Check out the "Walking Together" method from the article that I have linked below: https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Liberty does fine at a dog park, yet she doesn't know how to play. She looks at them like back off, I'm human. She does growl but has never bitten. She tries to get away instead. I'm getting a little puppy and it will be a small breed. Do you think I'm being stupid? I have four son's and she is great with them and was always gentle with our youngest. He is now 5.
Hi Kristi, It could go either way with a puppy. Dog parks are highly arousing and a lot of dogs there were not socialized while young and don't interact properly, so some dogs don't enjoy being there. I suggest testing out one on one interactions with other dogs to see if Liberty can simply peacefully co-exist around another dog without aggression or anxiety. Don't expect playfulness - she just needs to be able to simply hang out with the other dog without issues or stress. Test her around a few friends' dogs. Take the dogs on walks together where both dogs are heeling and focusing on you and not competing to be in front. Practice down stays at the house if the walk goes well. Finally, let the dogs simply hang out at the house with supervision. Keep both dogs from pestering the other one though. If she can calmly peacefully co-exist around other dogs without aggression or anxiety that is a good sign. Next, if she does well around friends' dogs test her around a puppy. Don't let the puppy pester her but see if she seems aggressive or anxious around the puppy even when he isn't directly bothering her. Be careful to take measures to protect pup in case she reacts poorly. A loose leash or back tie leash are good ideas, but your body language should be calm and relaxed so don't tense up on the leash. A back tie may help you be less tense or manage the puppy better. If she does well with all of the "hang out" interactions that is a good sign. If you do get a puppy at that point, expect to supervise them together and with a LOT of boundaries and structure. You will want to encourage calmness and focus on you in both dogs. You will want to keep pup from pestering Liberty, crate train pup and use an exercise pen for pup for times when you can't directly supervise to train dogs to be calm around each other - liberty may never play with the puppy and that is fine as long as she is kind and respectful toward pup, and you teach pup to be the same way back. Don't let them make or enforce rules for each other or "work things out on their own" - that can lead to fights. Create your house rules for dogs, enforce it for both dogs so both dogs don't have to be pushy to get what they need (like space while eating or sleeping). You want both dogs following you so that leadership isn't in question. On the flip side, enroll pup in a high quality puppy kindergarten class that has time for off leash play to help with her socialization. Don't expect Liberty to teach her what she needs to know as a dog. Take her around other puppies (puppies play differently with dogs, so no dog parks while young, but lots of puppy play groups). Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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We just got Woody, a 30 lb 3 month old lab mix. He loves exploring the world with his mouth and is very clumsy as he doesn’t know his size yet. We also have an older 15 lb dachshund. When Woods sees Dexter, he paws and bites him as he would with dogs his size. How can we correct this behavior?
Hello Christian, I suggest teaching an "Out" command, a Leave It command, crate training him, and using an Exercise pen. Work on the Out command while you can supervise to teach him boundaries around the older dog. When you cannot supervise, attach him to yourself with a leash or confine him in a sturdy exercise pen with a food stuffed chew toy. You can make the exercise pen more sturdy by putting it in a corner and anchoring it to something stable. When you leave the house, confine him in a crate. I also suggest signing up for a puppy kindergarten class that has time for off leash to help him learn to control the pressure of his mouth by playing with other puppies and being given feedback - the play in the class should be monitored and puppies given breaks and calmed back down if a puppy starts to bully or feel overwhelmed. Out command: 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 Introducing a crate: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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We've had our female Chihuahua for about 6 years. Recently, we brought a rescue male Boxer (Gryff) into the house. They've already tussled twice and the chihuahua got injured. She's the alpha, or thinks she it, but she gets in his face and growls and it makes him mad, or so it seems. The boxer is the most loving dog a person could have, but their interaction is causing us concern for the smaller dog. Our question is, will they ever be able to grow comfortable together or do we have a larger issue on our hands? Thanks!
Hello Ron, Without intervention they will likely not work it on their own. The more fights they have the worse it could get honestly. Both dogs need respect for you increased, clear boundaries and rules in the house, and to have the humans in the house enforce the rules for them so that neither dog is allowed to decide or enforce rules for another dog. First, work on building each dog's respect for you. I suggest teaching the following commands, especially Heel and Place. Also, if you chihuahua seems to be the instigator have her or both dogs work for everything they get for a while. For example, have her sit before you pet her, Down before you feed her, Watch Me before you let her outside, Wait before you throw a toy, ect...Make her work for what she gets in life. This is a non-confrontational way to gradually help build respect. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Working Method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Create rules for the dogs and enforce them for each dog. For example: 1. No bothering another dog when they want to be left alone. 2. No trying to steel another dogs food or hovering around while they eat. 3. No guarding objects or people. 4. No blocking another dog from getting to a certain area or from going through a door way. 5. No being pushy with people or other dogs. 6. No stealing another dogs toy they have. Decide what your rules are and when one dog breaks them intervene. For example, if one dog takes another dog's toy, take the toy back from the thief, return it to the dog who had it first, and make the thief leave the room. If one dog tries to guard you or the couch from another dog, make the growling dog get off the couch and leave the room right away. If one dog tries to steal another dog's food block the thief and firmly walk toward them until they leave the room - better yet feed both dogs in locked crates to prevent stress around mealtimes in general. When both dogs respect you, know the house rules, and know through your consistency that you will enforce the rules, it leaves less room for the dogs to try to control each other and get into fights. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Hi! I recently adopted Duke and the shelter did tell me about his past aggressive behavior toward other people and dogs. When he was at home with us he’s generally just calm and a happy dog which can get a bit hyper, typical Aussie. He’s big but he also seems to think like he’s a lap dog because he’s very clingy to me. He enjoys being petted while sitting next to me. He doesn’t bark and seems to tolerate other people when I take him out on walks. There was that one incident though when he saw a small dog being walked by its owner barking at him and he got too excited, he got out of his collar/leash and attacked the other dog. I think it’s more like wanting to play with another dog than being aggressive. But since he’s about 60lbs and the other dog is a miniature schnauzer, it almost seemed like he attacked the other dog and the dog was shaking in fear. Now I kinda get anxious about walking him and him seeing another dog. He only seems to act this way towards a small dog barking at him. I feel like he’s just misunderstood before and plus him being currently on heartworm treatment and having his activity level very restricted doesn’t help with his socialization, possibly contributing to behavioral problems. What can I do to help him socialize with other dogs without compromising his health? How can I avoid another attack on other dogs in the future?
Hello Janna, To prevent him from getting away again I suggest either using a padded front clip harness to walk him or a prong collar with a caribeener between the prong collar and a normal buckle collar for added safety. Check out the video below for details on how to connect the collars. The prong collar will discourage fighting the leash to get away and stop the escape attempts that way, and the front clip harness simply makes it so that he can't slip a collar, but you will have to hold on tight to the leash and work on his behavior around other dogs still. About Prong collars: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3iczULPcdE Fitting and carabinering the prong collar and buckle collar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23zEy-e6Khg Walking with the prong collar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVvy6fztL2Q&t=6s He needs to be interrupted with a small correction as soon as he starts scanning looking for other dogs or getting too worked up - if you wait until he explodes it will be hard to get through to him. When he remains calm or calms back down, praise him softly, and be sure to give him something else to do, like heeling with lots of turns and changes in pace to keep his focus on you around other dogs - to teach him to ignore them. Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel For socialization, work on calm obedience commands like Place and Down Stay and have people come over to your house and toss treats to him for staying calmly. You can also practice Heel, Down, Sit and Place while other dogs are walking by, and reward him for staying calm, obeying, and focusing on you. The main goal with his past should be to teach him to be self-controlled, calm, and relaxed around other dogs, so he doesn't necessarily need to be roughhousing or playing with them for socialization now - he could even have issues with that if there is a history of aggression. Once he is past heartworm treatment, then going on structured walks and hikes with other dogs while heeling would be great for him. It gives him companionship but encourages calmness, purposeful activity, and a pleasant association with other dogs because the hiking and walking is fun. Joining a Canine Good Citizen class, Intermediate Obedience class (basic obedience if he doesn't know commands yet), or some type of structured, calm class where he works on focusing around other dogs would also help with socialization when he is feeling better. For now work on calm obedience commands in the presence of other dogs so that he simply associates the dogs with calmness, focus on you, and something pleasant - treats for obeying. Have people over and practice calm obedience too, with the new people tossing treats to him for his polite behavior. Watch him carefully around new people at first though to make sure he does not have issues with possessiveness, fear-aggression, or any other type of aggression. Someone should always be aware of the potential for aggression or fear with a new dog, especially one that may have a history of some type of issue. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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So we recently got theo at a pound, he is older and fairly mellow and get along with most dogs when walking out an about. At home though we have two smaller dogs, one being a chihuahua mix. She is more aggressive with newer dogs but she gets along with our other small dog just ffine. She bites and theo and sometimes he doesnt react but other times he has pinned her in a corner or on the floor and one time he got her pretty good, but that day me and him were out in the sun so he may have been tired. He kind of eye balls the other two and sniffs them alot and it's been about 3 weeks since we have had him. I dont know if it will settle down or get worse. We have left them at home for hours before and no one was eaten but how do I know if they will for sure get along.
Hello Kendra, You need to hire a trainer to help you. It sounds like your Chihuahua is the main issue. Theo was very tolerant initially but is starting to fight back because your small dog is bullying him. If your Chihuahua keeps instigating fights Theos dislike for her will increase and he will have to increase the amount of aggression he uses toward her to get her to stop if she isn't backing off. To see improvement, your chihuahua's behavior issues need to be dealt with, and Theo taught to let you handle issues. It may be something that can be addressed well but it probably won't fix itself without working with the dogs and changing some things. When you are not home, they absolutely need to be kept separate. Not only does it put them at risk but it also gives your small dog a chance to bully Theo and the issue get worse and worse. When you are supervising, teach both dogs the Out command (which means leave the area) and make whoever is causing issues leave the area as needed. Out command: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Decide what your house rules are for both dogs and you be the one to enforce the rules instead of the dogs. No aggression, no pushiness, no stealing toys, no stealing food, no being possessive of people or things, or any other unwanted behavior - if one dog is causing a problem you be the one to enforce the rules so that the dogs are NOT working it out themselves. For example, if one dog comes over to your other dog while she is trying to sleep, tell pup "Out". If he obeys, praise and reward him. If he disobeys, stand in front of your dog who is trying to bother the other dog (if there is no aggression or fight yet), blocking the dog from getting to her, and walk toward pup calmly but firmly until pup leaves the area and stops trying to go back to your other dog. Don't do this during a fight or if that dog has shown aggression toward you - use this to enforce rules before things get tense. If your small dog growls at Theo, make her leave the room while also disciplining Theo if he was doing something he shouldn't, like trying to steal a toy. Be vigilant and take the pressure off of both dogs to manage each other. You want the dogs to learn to look to you when there is a problem, and both to learn respect each other because you have taught it to them and not because either dog resorted to aggression. Get professional help, use basket muzzles, or both if you are in danger of being bitten - always take precautions to avoid a bite - don't assume a dog won't bite because any dog can. I also suggest teaching both dogs Place and working up to both dogs being able to stay on Place for an hour at a time. Have them go to Place to practice peacefully being near each other, avoid issues, and generally to increase calmness and a respectful attitude. Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo The following is also a good exercise for increasing calmness and respect: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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