How to Train Your Dog to Get Along with Other Dogs

Medium
1-2 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Let’s be honest for a moment.  As humans, we often meet people we dislike or that rub us the wrong way.  Part of being able to function in society, go to work and be social, however, is learning to get along with other people.  The same can be said when it comes to training your dog to get along with other dogs.  Even as an only dog in a household, Fido will often have to interact with other dogs when they visit the vet, go for walk,s or if they want to enjoy dog parks or other social and fun pet-centric events.  Learning good doggy social skills, therefore, is a critical part of your dog’s core training.

Defining Tasks

The extent to which your dog will need to be trained to get along with other dogs will depend on their individual personality and the level of interaction you foresee.  If you will be bringing an additional dog into the household, your pet will need to learn to share their space, toys, time, and resources with other dogs.  If Fido is the only pet, your dog will need to ignore other dogs while out in public or greet them politely when they cross paths.  Each of these skills will involve gradually introducing your dog to other canines and building positive associations with the experience of being around each other.

Getting Started

For the best results, you should begin training your dog to get along with other dogs as early as possible.  Starting your dog off young builds positive experiences that your pup can refer back to time and again as they encounter dogs in the future.  As with any training, you will want to have a wide selection of treats in a varying range of attractiveness or value.  Dry, bite-sized dog cookies, small pieces of cheese, hot dog slices, and cooked steak or meat are all good options.  You will need a sturdy flat buckle collar and a medium length leash, preferably with a second loop for shortening length if needed.  Finally, a calm and friendly neighborhood dog and their owner will be a great mentor and can often help to create good interactions and pawsitive reinforcement of doggy manners.

The Positive Reinforcement Method

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Positive Reinforcement method for Get Along with Other Dogs
Step
1
Distance and treats
This method for teaching your dog to get along with other dogs works well if you don’t have another pooch to help you practice. It can also be trained in a variety of settings. Start out on a bench or sitting well away from a path where dogs frequently walk. Every time a dog comes into view, immediately treat and praise your pooch.
Step
2
Getting closer
After several sessions, slowly decrease the distance between your dog and the path. Eventually you should be several feet away from other dogs but not close enough for the dogs to touch or interact. Remember to treat and praise every time they see a dog and react calmly.
Step
3
Parallel walking
After several sessions, walk parallel to the path, well away from other dogs. Try to keep your dog’s attention and treat and praise for good behavior and calm walking. Keep your dog a far enough distance away that they aren’t able to touch or interact with other dogs.
Step
4
The meet and greet
After some time of this type of positive reinforcement and acclimation, ask another dog owner with a calm, friendly-appearing dog if your pooch can say hello. Keep the initial greetings short and be sure to treat and praise immediately after the positive interactions.
Step
5
Repeat with multiple dogs
Repeat the positive introductions with multiple dogs of varying sizes and energy levels.
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The Introduction Walks Method

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Introduction Walks method for Get Along with Other Dogs
Step
1
Walk off energy
Start off by spending some time playing and walking with your dog. Many calmer dogs will often become nervous around others with higher energy levels. Working off some of their excess energy which will lead to calmer interactions between pups.
Step
2
Parallel walking from a distance
Start out by walking your dog next to a friendly dog from a great distance. This is called parallel walking. Your dog should be able to see the other dog, but not touch or interact. 15-20 feet is a good amount of distance. Sporadically give your dog treats and praise them for acting calm.
Step
3
Arcing paths
Walk the dogs towards each other in arcing paths towards each other. This will allow the dogs to approach each other but not actually interact. Treat and praise your dog for good, calm behavior, especially after reaching the apex of the arc and as your dog is walking away.
Step
4
Decrease distance
Repeat walking your dog in arcing paths, decreasing the distance at the apex of the arc each time. Remember to treat and praise your pooch for remaining calm. Towards the very end your dog should just be out of reach of the other pooch.
Step
5
Meet and greet
Allow your dog to meet the other, calm and friendly dog. You should approach the other dog from the side with the friendly dog remaining stationary in a sit or calm stand. Try to keep the leash slack and remain calm yourself. Repeat this introduction with a variety of dogs to build positive associations.
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The Teaching to Give Method

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Teaching  to Give method for Get Along with Other Dogs
Step
1
Prepping the toy
Start out by getting your dog excited by a favorite toy. Play a game of tug and otherwise let your pooch enjoy the toy. The idea is to make the toy valuable to your pooch so that they wouldn’t willingly want to give it up for nothing.
Step
2
Trading for treats
Take a treat in your hand and show your dog that it is there. With your other hand, grasp the toy. Move the treat near to your dog’s mouth and gently tug on the toy, prompting your dog to drop it and take the treat. Praise your dog when they release the toy.
Step
3
Add in the command
After several sessions of trading, add in a command word such as “give” or “drop”. You should say the command as you are removing the toy from your dog’s mouth.
Step
4
Remove the trade
After reinforcing the command word over several sessions, remove the trading aspect by saying the command without having a treat in hand. Your dog should drop or release the toy. When this happens, immediately treat and praise. If your dog doesn’t willingly release the toy, go back a step and reinforce the command.
Step
5
Repeat in multiple scenarios
Repeat this training in multiple scenarios, including with other dogs around, to help get your dog used to giving up and sharing their toys. The idea is to train your dog that when they release a toy they will receive a reward and positive reinforcement of their good behavior.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
brownlee
Pit bull
2 Years
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Question
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brownlee
Pit bull
2 Years

we live in a house with no backyard so i take my dog on a walk 3 times every day. each time we see another dog mine goes insane and barks and jumps and tries to run up to the other dog. what should i do?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
393 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lily, First, see if there is a G.R.O.W.L. class in your area. This is a class for dog reactive and dog aggressive dogs. It is an intensive socialization class where all of the dogs wear basket muzzles for everyone's safety and the dogs are walked together and socialized together to help overcome issues more quickly. Also, work on a very focused, structured heel. Check out the video and article linked below. He needs to start out the walk walking slightly behind you and not in front of you - because in front he cannot focus on you and is scanning the horizon for dogs. Starting out the walk right can make a huge impact on how a dog responds when they do see another dog. Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo I would need more information to help further. If this is leash reactivity - meaning that he does fine with dogs while off leash or once he greets the dogs, then I suggest working on his respect and focus for you and correcting the behavior by keeping him extremely on task walking with you. If this is aggression and he is not alright with dogs in other environments, then you will need to deal with the root of the aggression and determine what type it is. If he is afraid you would work on pairing the presence of other dogs with good things while he was calm, in addition to building his confidence in you. If it is dominance, possessiveness, territorial, or protective, then you would work on building his respect and focus on you and desensitizing him to other dogs through a lot of practice heeling around other dogs from a distance that he can handle, with well timed corrections and well timed praise - there are several different exercises to work on for this. If this is genetic you are going to be looking at high level management since the root of the aggression likely cannot be changed. You would work on increasing his respect and trust for you, desensitizing him to other dogs, and having an advanced level of obedience so that he could respond to you even in the presence of high distractions. Check out Jeff Gellman from SolidK9Training for more details on dealing with aggression. If this is fear aggression, then you could also use a more positive reinforcement approach. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Sheba
German Shepherd
4 Years
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Question
1 found helpful
Sheba
German Shepherd
4 Years

She is very territorial, she nuts up every time another dog comes in yard or where she can see them. When I take her to Petsmart to get groomed she doesn’t act like that. She goes from 0 to 100 in seconds. She is 100 lbs and I am a 66 year old woman, what can I do

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
393 Dog owners recommended

Hello Gayle, You need to hire a trainer who specializes in aggression and has access to other trainers on staff and well behaved dogs to practice around. Because of her strength it will be difficult for you to implement the training on your own so I suggest getting in person help. Look into Sean O'Shea from the Good Dog, and Jeff Gellman from SolidK9Training on YouTube. I still suggest hiring a trainer to help you though. Aggression is one of the things that often requires professional help. Many things can be taught on your own, but aggression often benefits from having assistance from someone who deals with it often, comes well recommended, and has the resources like other dogs, to practice the methods around. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Molly
collie spaniel mix
2 Years
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Molly
collie spaniel mix
2 Years

hello,
when Molly was less than a year old she was at a training class and another dog came at her to attack her. she did not get hurt. Now when we owned another dog she was super aggressive. they would fight over toys, when someone rang the door bell or just go at each other. we had to surrender the second dog it was getting to dangerous. I really want to adopt another dog. a tea cup yorkie. how do I train molly to be friendly with a new dog? thank you

Chenae

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
393 Dog owners recommended

Hello Chanae, First, you need to honestly evaluate whether she was the initiator of the fights, or if it was only your dog that you re-homed. If the other dog was the only one constantly starting issues, you may be able to add another dog but life with both dogs probably will never be able to look relaxed and unstructured because of her history. I know of others with dog reactive dogs who are able to add a second dog but you need to first work through your dog's general issues being around other dogs, which will probably involve working with a training group that specializes in aggression and reactivity and who has access to a lot of other dogs to work on desensitizing her. You will need to work on the resource guarding before adding another dog. Her life will need to be really structured, meaning she needs to heel with a lot of focus on you and walking slightly behind you on every walk (and not be allowed to scan the horizon looking for other dogs), she needs to wait for permission before eating, be fed in a closed crate, be crated trained, be able to do a 2 hour Place or Down-Stay command, know Leave It, Out, Come, and be very responsive to commands around high distractions, like other dogs running past. When you have established that level of respect, trust, focus on you, and obedience, then you can ease into introducing another dog by having Molly rotate between being on Place, in a crate, or on a structured heeling walk around the other dog - no freedom around the other dog at this point, only structured activities together with a high level of focus and management from you. Both dogs should be fed in closed separate crates to prevent resource guarding and stress around food, and toys carefully chosen and controlled when they have what. A household with a dog aggressive dog is possible but it will never look like a household with two dog-social dogs, and the Yorkie is small enough that it could easily be killed during a fight, and being bullied by another dog will cause a second dog to become fear-aggressive too - continuing the cycle. After a couple of years of careful management and structure with both dogs, they may become accepting and trusting enough of each other and respectful enough of your rules, that they can have more freedom with each other (always supervised still though). This often happens when things are managed carefully enough for long enough, but there are no guarantees that things will be able to be more relaxed. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Enzo
1/2 German Shepard 1/4 Bull dog, 1/4 Boxer
2 Years
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Question
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Enzo
1/2 German Shepard 1/4 Bull dog, 1/4 Boxer
2 Years

Hello. When Enzo was young, he was great with other dogs. Never had any problems. Then as time grew I noticed him playing more rough with the other dogs at the dog park, following their lead. So we stopped attending as much. Then about 6 months ago he freaked out when another dog was near and tried snapping at him. After that I limited his social interactions. Now I have two new dogs moving into my house, neither are aggressive. We've tried to get them friendly but Enzo is still freaking out. By this he is snapping his jaw and barking lunging at them when they are close by and I have to use all my strength to hold him back. Then at a further distance he is crying in a very high pitched sound, going crazy trying to get loose. We've tried having them sniff at each other. Using just the female dog to try and get them aquanted and Enzo just wont calm down. He doesnt care about treats or anything when this is going on either. What can I do? With the walking method, he just pulls and cries the entire time trying to get to the other dog

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
393 Dog owners recommended

Hello Taylor, It sounds like he may associate other dogs with the highly aroused state he was always in around them, where the dogs have to be a bit defensive, competitive, and overly-excited. Over-arousal can lead to fighting and frustration. You want him learn to associate dogs with something calm and pleasant, and not something really exciting or frustrating. He needs to practice heeling around other dogs from a distance, a high level Place command around other dogs also in Place, and a lot of other obedience where his focus is on you and the other dogs are just background information but not something he is supposed to be focusing on; to do this, his focus on you and respect and trust for you need to increase a lot, then you can gradually work up to getting him around other dogs while doing something structured like heeling, with the dogs in the distance. As he improves, you can decrease the distance between them and add more movement from the other dogs. Check out Jeff Gellman from solidK9Training. He specializes in aggression, fear and similar behavior problems and has hundreds of videos on Youtube. Sean O'Shea from the Good Dog also has several great videos, as well as The Canine Educator based in New York state. Aggression and reactivity can be harder to treat yourself and you will need a lot of volunteers with their own calm dogs to serve as dogs in the background while doing this. You also need someone to show you how correct effectively (avoiding a bite, the right level of correction, the right timing, and correcting the looking for dogs and tensing up to get his attention back onto you and off the dogs before a big outburst, ect...), and someone to show you what your attitude and body language needs to be like - very calm and confident, not anxious, angry, or overly excited. Because he doesn't have a bite history and hasn't drawn blood as far as you have mentioned you may be able to tackle his needs on your own if you have enough people with calm dogs willing to help you and you are able to do the research needed to understand how to do the training by watching tons of videos - but this will be a ton easier if you hire a trainer who specializes in behavior problems and trains similar to the trainers in the videos mentioned above, using mostly positive reinforcement but also a ton of structure, obedience, and boundaries, and the right about of corrections where needed to break through to the dog so they can be open to learning something better. Avoid trainers who use alpha rolls and extreme dominance type training. Effective corrections and structure aren't the same as pinning a dog to the ground just to make a point. Also, avoid those who do not have a lot of experience with aggression, many trainers only focus on obedience in class type settings (which is fine for those who need obedience, but not what you need and won't help on it's own). Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Willow
Mix
1 Year
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Willow
Mix
1 Year

my dog was fine with other dogs when I first got her(she was 6 months old). Then my daughters dog snapped at her. but not right away did I see a change in her. But it happened gradually. Now I think some of it is my fault. She is extremely aggressive for a 7 lb dog. Especially to puppies. With big giant dogs she want to play. I cannot get her attention to even focus on a treat or otherwise. I unfortunately out of embarrassment to other owners have held her mouth and picked her up. She loves loves people. And when no other dogs are around she is the sweetest. I cannot afford formal training but I think I made her bad, please help.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
393 Dog owners recommended

Hello Maribeth, Check out the articles and videos linked below to work on her respect and responsiveness to you - which is the first step. It sounds like it may be fear-aggression but other types of aggression commonly surface around 1-2 years so you may have something else going on too. With fear and other types of aggression you want her to feel like she can depend on you to handle situations that make her nervous, and listen to commands related to how she should behave around other dogs. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo 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 Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Dog Training Do’s https://www.solidk9training.com/sk9-blog/2016/09/08/the-ten-commandments-of-dog-training-and-ownership-do-2 1-2 years is a common age for aggression or fear related behaviors to surface because of the dog's mental and sexual maturity around then...protectiveness, fear-aggression, territorial behavior, possessiveness, dominance issues, and reactivity are a few common things that can pop up for some dogs during that time - it's often related to the dog's genetic personality, the type of leadership you provide, the dog's socialization level, competing with other animals, and instincts. Check out Jeff Gellman from SolidK9Training on YouTube, he has hundreds of videos on aggression and fear. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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