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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Most Recommended
2 Votes
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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Effective
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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
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
946 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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Question
Odin
American Staffordshire Terrier, cross bulldog
3 Years
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Odin
American Staffordshire Terrier, cross bulldog
3 Years

Trying to introduce our dog Odin with my boyfriends mums dogs as there gonna be seeing each others often, the meet and greet went well they walked well together, but at the house odin snapps at the other dogs, ( unprovoked) we have made him wear a harness and muzzle at all times around the dogs

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Angelina, I would continue the walks together often, doing that initially is a good way to introduce, but continuing walks often like that can help them build their relationship further overtime. In the house, the muzzle is a good precaution. I suspect there may be some resource guarding or pestering going on. Are the other dogs respecting his space, staring him down, or trying to take things from him? If so, their behavior will need to be addressed also, for them to learn to respect his boundaries via your rules for all the dogs and you calmly enforcing those rules on the dogs' behalf. If there is resource guarding happening, I would hire a professional private trainer, who specializes in behavior issues like aggression to work with you in person there. A combination of building pup's respect for the humans in the house, mostly through obedience practice and consistent rules being calmly enforced, and activities like structured heeling walks where pup walks slightly behind you and is taught to pay attention during the walk, or stay on a Place bed for up to an hour calmly, and desensitizing pup to the other dog's being near something pup wants. The respect building helps pup learn to respect your rules about what types of interactions are allowed between dogs, helps pup listen to you better, addresses pup resource guarding you from the other dogs if that's an issue, and helps pup generally defer to you a bit more, instead of trying to control the actions of the other dogs. Desensitizing pup (also called counter conditioning) to the other dogs being around, helps pup feel less stressed about them being there and thus less defensive. Pup can also be taught specific things, like moving away from another dog when they feel uncomfortable instead of using aggression to make the other dog move. You can also learn how to read the dogs' body language more, so you can tell when the dogs are being rude to each other or tension is building before there is a lunge or larger aggression, so you can address the issue sooner - like telling one dog to leave the are if being pushy, taking away a toy being guarded, making pup get off the couch if guarding that space, interrupting a dog that's staring another dog down, ect... Not all trainers specialize in behavior issues or aggression, so be sure to look into any trainer's specific experience with that area of training and their previous client referrals and reviews. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Buster
Boston Terrier
3 Months
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Buster
Boston Terrier
3 Months

This is buster and he's 14 weeks old. He's lovely natured but seems to have a problem settling in his new home with new dogs and doesn't get on with the dogs he lives with. Is there anything that we can try to do with him?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Laura, I would need a bit more information about Buster's behavior around the other dogs to help with anything specific. The following can help facilitate good relationships between dogs in general though. 1. Reward Buster whenever you catch him being especially good when another dog is in the room. Try to do this without the other dogs seeing, so no one else rushes over for a treat also - because others rushing over could cause a food fight and make things worse. 2. Structured heeling walks with two people walking each dog is a good activity to help dogs bond calmly. Practicing obedience exercises with the dogs with two different people, like Down-Stay, Place, Heel, and Sit-Stay to give them something calm and focused to do together, without crowding each other. 3. Give clear boundaries between all the dogs and you be the one to make and enforce rules. Things like no hover around another dog while he eats, no pestering another dog when he wants to be left alone, no stealing another dog's toy, food, or bone, no pushing another dog aside for attention, climbing on top of you or being pushy with you for attention, no intimidating another dog in general, or keeping them out of a space or certain room, no growling or acting aggressive toward another dog, or bullying another dog. If you catch any of the dogs breaking a rule, you be the one to enforce the rule by doing something like making the offender leave the room, give you a stolen toy to be returned to the original dog, ect... 4. Crate train pup, and ideally all the dogs. Give a dog food stuffed chew toy in the crate and have pup spend time there or in an exercise pen when you can't supervise interactions between the dogs right now. 5. Teach Place, and work up to the dogs being able to do a 1 hour Place on separate place beds in the same room, for calm co-existence. 6. Enroll in a puppy class that has time for moderated off-leash play if pup is lacking social skills. Puppies tend to learn best from other puppies. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/puppy-classes-when-to-start/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Gunner
Labrador Retriever
14 Months
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Gunner
Labrador Retriever
14 Months

Hi. Gunner is very lovable, well-behaved for the most part, very friendly toward all humans, and gets along with our two cats well. However, he doesn't get along with other dogs. When he was about 5 months we took him swimming and there were two other full-grown dogs there. He played in the water fine with them. But since then every time he encounters another, he jumps on them and growls. His tail is not wagging (as if playing) we we quickly pull him back. He has been exposed to my son's bulldog twice, my daughter's golden puppy twice, and all of my neighbor's dogs numerous times, and it's always the same result: we have to restrain him.

Gunner began having seizures at 10 weeks old and is on medications to control them. He has not had one in over 6 months. Could the medication cause his reactions to other dogs, or is this something that we have to keep working on?

Since that first swimming meet and greet, he has not been exposed to any dogs bigger than him. Should we try doing that?

Your thoughts are greatly appreciated!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Tony, For further exposures, I would only work on that in the safety of a training set up that keeps all the dogs safe, like a G.R.O.W.L. class. If you can find a class in your area, one of those could be very beneficial for him. They are classes for dog reactive/aggressive dogs who are intensively socialized in the structured environment of the class with each other while wearing basket muzzles for safety and supervised by the trainer. I can't say whether that particular medication could have side effects that show up as aggression. Some medications can cause side effects that lead to increased anxiety or aggression in general but I am not a vet. I would speak with your vet about whether that specific medication could have any side effects related to that. I would also ask your vet if the seizures themselves or any underlying abnormalities that the seizures are a symptom of also may be related to the behavior, and if so, whether that could be addressed with your vet. I am not a vet, so I can't speak toward how the medication or seizures could be related to aggression in your case, but I would ask your vet if I were you. If sounds like either way pup is lacking in socialization, so even if the medication or medical condition is making the aggression worse, a lack of socialization is likely at least part of the issue. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Leia
Chihuahua
3 Years
0 found helpful
Question
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Leia
Chihuahua
3 Years

Our dog does not like other dogs bigger than her. We would really like to adopt our foster puppy (lab/hound mix) but Leia growls and snaps every time he is near.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sara, Whenever pup enters the room or your older dog is being especially tolerant and calm around him, give her a treat while puppy isn't watching - you don't want him running over and starting a fight. If your older dog doesn't listen well to you, I recommend working on building her trust and respect for you so that both dogs are following your rules for interacting with each other and letting you handle the any issues instead of resorting to aggression or feeling bullied. Check out the article linked below for some ways to build her trust and respect for you. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you I also recommend you be the one to manage pup and help them learn to respect her space and decrease the stress of their interactions. As part of that, if you haven't already done so, I highly suggest crate training the puppy. Use the Surprise method from the article linked below to gradually help him learn to be calm in the crate and to relax by using rewards for being Quiet. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Crate pup at night and when you leave, and you can use an exercise pen with some toys in it also. When you cannot directly supervise the dogs together, puppy should be crated or in the pen. 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. You want to reduce some of the stress involved in pup being around. 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 pup comes over to your older dog when she is trying to sleep, tell pup Out. If he obeys, praise and reward him. If he disobeys, stand in front of your older dog, blocking the pup from getting to him, and walk toward pup calmly but firmly until pup leaves the area and stops trying to go back to your older dog. If your older dog growls at your pup, make her leave the room while also giving pup a consequence like leaving if needed. Be vigilant and take the pressure off of your older dog - you want her to learn to look to you when there is a problem, and for puppy to learn respect for your older dog because you have taught it to him and not because your older dog has had to resort to aggression. If you want pup to be free but don't want to chase after him while you are home, you can also clip him to yourself using a six-foot leash, so that he has to stay near you and not wander near your other dog. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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