teaching dogs to be friends

Two pals at Doggy Day Care!

Dogs are instinctively social creatures. They enjoy people, and they usually enjoy hanging out with other dogs. When it’s time to introduce your dogs to a new friend, or a new member of the household, you may still find that you’ll have to help the social instincts along, and help your dog learn to make a friend. Whether he’s shy or overbearing, here are a few tips that will help turn Rover into a social butterfly.

Keep it neutral. This is easy if you and Rover are out walking and meet a friend. If you are having a houseguest, if Rover is headed for a sleepover at another dog’s house, or if Rover is getting a new sibling, go to a park for the very first introduction.

Stay on leash. An ideal first activity would be a walk, where each dog is walked on leash. Parallel walking out of reach will allow the dogs to get used to each other’s scents. After a while, allow the dogs to get closer to each other. Take it very slow, but if one dog shows interest in the other, give them a treat and praise. Slowly work toward having the dogs walk side by side.

Watch the language. Dogs have body language that is very easy to read. If you see relaxation or happy eagerness in both dogs, you’re golden. Separate the dogs if you notice tension, raised hair, bared teeth, or growling. Try again later. Don’t force the dogs to interact.

Go head to head. Eventually let the dogs approach each other face to face, still keeping them on a slack leash. They will sniff, pee, circle, or maybe ignore each other. If the interaction is positive, drop the leashes, but don’t totally remove them in case you need to separate the two.

Put away the toys. Since dogs are possessive, neither dog should have toys at first. You should also feed the dogs in separate areas, and provide a second water bowl. As the dogs truly become friends, you can slowly introduce toys and other objects that your dog ‘owns’, but supervise carefully.

Use the crates. If the dogs will be together when you are away or asleep, it’s best to crate them initially. As time goes on, you’ll be able to trust them together more.

If things don’t go well, separate the dogs, and try again later. Usually, over time, they’ll get used to each other. If the difficulties don’t go away, talk to us. We will try to eliminate any medical issues, and then talk to you about behavioral modification.

Most likely, introducing Rover will go smoothly, and you’ll have two dogs that will enjoy each other’s company as much as they enjoy yours.