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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Written by Amy Caldwell

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

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Huxley
Dachshund
10 Years
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Huxley
Dachshund
10 Years

Huxley is a recuse, was raise in a house with larger dogs and had to be tough to get anything. I have had him a year and he is great. He lunges at all other dogs when walking, I have got him to stop with "leave it" and treats. How do I introduce him to other dogs, like noses to nose

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1106 Dog owners recommended

Hello, Is pup is aggressive opposed to reactive toward other dogs on leash (pup tries to bite versus being loud but not actually harming another dog), then with aggression, I would see if there is a G.R.O.W.L. class in your area you can attend with pup, which will work on those types of interactions with everyone wearing a basket muzzle. If pup is reactive but not dangerous to other dogs, check out the Passing Approach method and the Walking Together method, starting with the passing approach method first. https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Tally
Mix
1 Year
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Tally
Mix
1 Year

We just adopted Tally. The shelter tested her with a number of other dogs and said that she acted well with them. We have taken her on walks and passed several other dogs without any issues. However our neighbors have 3 dogs one of which is a young puppy. Tally from day one has growled and snapped at them even though the three of them have always been friendly and never shown any aggression back. I think they just met on the wrong terms and now their is bad blood. Do you have any advice on how to undo the grudge that our dog seems to be holding toward these three.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1106 Dog owners recommended

Hello Hanna, How willing is your neighbor to train with you with their dogs? One neighbor dog at a time, with either enough space between to prevent a bite or a basket muzzle introduced and desensitized using treats ahead of time, check out the Passing Approach method. Once pups are doing well passing, then you can also practice the Walking Together method. https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs Another option, especially if training with your neighbor is less of an option and the issue is mainly just when the dogs pass from afar, would be practicing desensitizing like the video with the dog in the fence I have linked below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3n_fPKPLA2g&list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a&index=10 Some dogs will redirect aggression to whoever is closest while aroused, putting the owner at risk. If that's the case with pup, I would desensitize pup to wearing a basket muzzle first and utilize that tool while training and around the other dogs until things show improvement too. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Sky
Maltese
1 Year
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Question
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Sky
Maltese
1 Year

Sky is super friendly with other people but when it comes to other dogs is a whole other history. Around other dogs, she starts barking and being a little bit aggressive. I think it is because she doesn’t know how to interact but not because she will harm them. I need help with getting sky get along with other dogs and be able to have a good time instead of being "annoying".

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1106 Dog owners recommended

Hello Isabela, I would see if there is a G.R.O.W.L. class in your area. A good way to do introductions with other dogs is to recruit friends with calm dogs and use the Passing Approach and the Walking together methods from the article linked below. After a few practice session of this, when the dogs can calmly walk side by side finally, take pups on walks together with both in a structured, focused heel. This gives both dogs something other than each other to focus on, keeps their energy calm, and helps them associate each other with the pleasant experience of a walk. Repeat this with lots of different dogs, one or two dogs at a time - you want other dogs to be associated with calmness, pleasant experiences, and boring things - not roughhousing, wrestling, nose-to-nose interactions always, or being rushed by them. If pup is aggressive when actually greeting, I would maintain a safe distance, practicing the passing just to desensitize. https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3n_fPKPLA2g&list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a&index=10 Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Lila
Chihuahua
3 Years
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Question
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Lila
Chihuahua
3 Years

My dog barks and is aggressive towards other dogs

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1106 Dog owners recommended

Hello Karla, I recommend seeing if there is a G.R.O.W.L. class in your area, which is a class for dog reactive/aggressive dogs, where the dogs are intensively socialized and desensitized to one another in a structured environment, under the guidance of the class instructor, while wearing basket muzzles for safety. Another option would be a private training group that has access to multiple well mannered dogs, where desensitization and counter conditioning could be practiced, and something like the environment of the G.R.O.W.L. class created for just your training sessions, starting with just one dog and rotating to new dogs as pup improves. Check out Thomas Davis from the Canine Educator on youtube to learn more. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Milo
Maltese x
7 Years
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Milo
Maltese x
7 Years

My partner is due to move in with me and he has another male dog my dog is aggressive towards him and the other dog is aggressive back when my dog starts being aggressive my dog is neauted and the my partners dog isn’t

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1106 Dog owners recommended

Hello Nicola, First, for this need I do recommend hiring a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues like aggression and will come to your home to help you in person right away. Second, I would begin desensitizing both dogs to wearing a basket muzzle for safety and training purposes. To introduce the muzzle, first place it on the ground and sprinkle his meal kibble around it. Do this until he is comfortable eating around it. Next, when he is comfortable with it being on the floor with food, hold it up and reward him with a piece of kibble every time he touches or sniffs it in your hand. Feed him his whole meal this way. Practice this until he is comfortable touching it. Next, hold a treat inside of it through the muzzle's holes, so that he has to poke his face into it to get the treat. As he gets comfortable doing that, gradually hold the treat further down into the muzzle, so that he has to poke his face all the way into the muzzle to get the treat. Practice until he is comfortable having his face in it. Next, feed several treats in a row through the muzzle's holes while he holds his face in the muzzle for longer. Practice this until he can hold his face in it for at least ten seconds while being fed treats. Next, when he can hold his face in the muzzle for ten seconds while remaining calm, while his face is in the muzzle move the muzzle's buckles together briefly, then feed him a treat through the muzzle. Practice this until he is not bothered by the buckles moving back and forth. Next, while he is wearing the muzzle buckle it and unbuckle it briefly, then feed a treat. As he gets comfortable with this step, gradually keep the muzzle buckled for longer and longer while feeding treats through the muzzle occasionally. Next, gradually increase how long he wears the muzzle for and decrease how often you give him a treat, until he can calmly wear the muzzle for at least an hour without receiving treats more than two treats during that hour. Muzzle introduction video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJTucFnmAbw&list=PLXtcKXk-QWojGYcl1NCg5UA5geEnmpx4a&index=6&t=0s Third, check out the article linked below and following the Passing Approach method until they dogs can do well with that, then switch to the walking together method, starting far apart again, until the dogs can finally walk together. I recommend starting this process now if you live close enough to your partner, because this will probably take a lot of walks, getting gradually closer overtime to get to the point where they are ready to walk together and greet. Passing Approach and Walking Together methods: https://wagwalking.com/training/greet-other-dogs Once in the home together, the dogs would need to be crate trained and to know a solid 1-2 hour place command. Life would need to be very structured and dogs played with and fed separately, to avoid competition early on. Basically home would be very obedience class-like when they were together, to prevent potential fights. I would work on building trust and respect for you and your partner with each of your dogs ahead of time also so that the dogs are not making and enforcing rules for the other dog once together, but looking to you to do so. You want to add in a lot more structure and boundaries for now, working on things like the working method linked below, teaching both a 2 hour long Place command, directional commands like Off, Out (which means leave the area), Down, and Leave It, so that you can tell them where they should and should not be in relation to being pushy with you or instigating with the other dog, and both should be crate trained and crated when not supervised, especially when you leave the home. Working and Consistency methods: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Leave It: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out - which means leave the room: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Keep a drag leash on pup when you are present (and crate when not present) if they won't listen to your directional commands once learned well. Calmly lead pup where you tell them to go as needed by picking up the end of the leash. Have your partner, start teaching their dog Out, and Leave It right away too. If specific items are being guarded right now and that item can be removed, remove it at first. If either dog is guarding something like the Bed or couch while on it, teach Off and the new rule is 'no dogs on the couch or bed' until all aggression between them is improved and a good amount of time without fights or attempted fights or tension between them has passed. They don't have to be best friends right away, but they do have to learn that every dog abides by your rules in the home, and no fighting or doing things to instigate a fight is allowed. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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