Introductions: How to Introduce Your Dog to Other Pets
Brought to you by the AKC GoodDog! Helpline – the AKC’s 7-day-a-week training support service
By Hilarie Erb, AKC GoodDog! Helpline Trainer
During the holidays, there is a lot more visiting, and guests are likely to include friends’ and families’’ dogs. We have tips to help things go more smoothly for the canine and human family members when new dogs arrive at your home.
Keep in mind that when dogs meet other dogs, they do not understand, as most humans do, that they should behave politely even if they don’t like each other. Or that they should exercise self-control if they hit it off but are not allowed to rough-house continuously during the visit!
Before taking your dog to someone’s home, ask the host if it’s okay. An unexpected canine guest won’t be welcome if their dog has a history of not being social, and the hosts simply may not want the extra work involved in having another pet in their home. Pets such as cats, hamsters, rabbits, and birds can be very traumatized by a dog if they are not used to having one around so it’s likely that your dog will not be welcome.
But if you have the go-ahead to bring your dog, you need to know how to make introductions. It’s best that dogs meet in a neutral place, not inside the home of either dog. Dogs and other pets may feel threatened when a strange dog barges into their own safe place. Outside (again, not the fenced back yard of either dog) at a park or even in a nearby parking lot is best. Each dog should be on a leash with its owner and walked near each other calmly. Each owner should give his or her own dog treats for being calm and polite near the other dog.
If all goes well, take the dogs to the house and do the same thing in the front yard, then enter the house. It’s a good idea to keep them leashed for a while in the house as well as in a fenced back yard before letting them loose together.
Be careful with toys and food. These are things that most dogs do not like to share, and it isn’t fair to expect them to do so. Pick up all coveted toys, and feed the dogs separately under supervision. If the dogs do not get along, don’t scold either of them – this will just give them more reason to resent the other dog.
Never let your dog chase your host’s cat or other pets, and be aware that many dogs see small furry animals as prey. If pets like these are not safely tucked in a room away from the dog, you should be prepared to put your dog in the crate that you brought, where he can enjoy a nice chew treat.
There are times when leaving Rover home isn’t an option, even though your parents’ dog does not like him. All the good introduction techniques in the world won’t change it. You will just need to manage the situation so that everyone is happy, and the host dog doesn’t feel displaced. Take along your dog’s crate and favorite chew toys to keep him occupied when you can’t watch him. You’ll need to put extra work into walking, playing with, and feeding each dog separately to ensure that the visit is pleasant for everyone and that you’ll be invited back.
Join the AKC GoodDog! Helpline TODAY at the discount price of $59.99 – $40 off the regular fee. This provides lifetime training support for your dog. No renewals ever necessary.
For more tips and advice on training your dog, join the AKC GoodDog! Helpline, a seven-day-a-week telephone support service staffed by experienced dog trainers: www.akcgooddoghelpline.org.