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How to Make Two Dogs Get Along: A Practical Guide to A Peaceful Home

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

how to make two dogs get along

When introducing two dogs to each other, the hope is that they’ll become lifelong companions who provide friendship and comfort to each other and their human families. Understanding the nuances of dog behavior is key for dog owners to helping dogs to get along. Dogs are social animals by nature, but that doesn’t mean they automatically bond with every canine they meet. Just like humans, they have individual personalities and preferences that can affect their interactions.

You might be wondering how to manage the meeting so it leads to a harmonious relationship rather than conflict. There are strategies known by experts such as Dr. Karen B. London and Dr. Patricia McConnell that can assist in smoothing the path to friendship. They emphasize the importance of controlled introductions, observation of body language, and creating positive associations from the get-go.

It’s important to give dogs the space to get to know one another at their own pace without forcing them into close proximity right away. Being patient and reading their cues can tell you a lot about what they’re comfortable with. Over time, with the right approach, you can encourage a friendship that enriches both your life and the lives of your canine companions.

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When you welcome multiple dogs into your home, supporting their ability to coexist peacefully is essential, as studies show that tension between dogs can be a huge issue. By investing time in each dog individually, strengthening obedience, and understanding their social dynamics, you foster a tranquil environment. You set the stage for success by nurturing your dogs’ abilities to listen and follow your lead, even with their furry siblings around.

Social Animals and Pack Behavior

Dogs are naturally social animals and often exhibit pack behavior. This means they feel most secure when they understand their place within a group. Establish a clear hierarchy without encouraging competition for dominance by being a consistent and fair leader. Recognize the influence of body posture and behaviors that indicate dominance. Rewarding calm and submissive postures can promote harmony. Train your dogs to respond to a group name, much like one would call a family to dinner, to help manage them as a collective.

Common Causes of Conflict

Conflict among dogs often arises from resource guarding, competition over territory, or misunderstandings about social hierarchy. Redirect any instance of aggressive behavior with firmness and consistency; each dog should understand that politeness earns privileges like toys, affection, and treats. Acknowledge their individual personalities; adapt your interactions to each dog’s temperament and needs. For the dog with a penchant for dominating playtime, one-on-one play can prevent conflicts, while crate training may suit the dog who’s inclined to destroy furniture when unsupervised.

Preparing for a New Dog

introducing two dogs on neutral territory is key to them getting along

Bringing a new dog into your home is an exciting time that requires thoughtful preparation. To ensure the best possible start for your new pet and maintain harmony with your existing dog, it’s essential to consider both dogs’ personalities and how they may interact.

Assessing Your Current Dog’s Personality

Take the time to evaluate your current dog’s temperament. Is your dog sociable or more of a lone wolf? Dogs that are laid-back and friendly often adapt more easily to a new sibling, while a more dominant or anxious dog might require careful management to accept a newcomer. It’s vital to understand that your dog will need extra love and attention during this transition to prevent feelings of jealousy or neglect.

Choosing the Right Companion

When selecting a second dog, consider age, breed, and personality. A puppy may have boundless energy that could overwhelm an older dog, or two dogs of similar age and size might play more compatibly. Anxious dogs might benefit from a calm companion. If possible, arrange a meet-and-greet to see how your current dog interacts with the potential new family member. Being mindful of these aspects can help in adopting a dog that will gel well with your existing pet and human family members, making the doubling of joy in your household a real possibility.

Proper Introduction Techniques For New Dogs

Before you introduce a new dog to your resident canine, it’s vital to approach the process with patience and a plan. By setting the stage in neutral territory and managing their first interactions, you’re on the right path to a smooth integration.

Neutral Territory Introductions

When you’re ready to introduce your new dog to your old pal, pick a place that’s new to both dogs. A neutral territory ensures neither dog feels the need to defend their space, which can reduce initial tension. Start with both dogs leashed and take them on a long walk together, side by side. This allows them to get accustomed to each other’s presence without forced interaction. It’s important to keep the leashes loose; tension on the leash may increase anxiety.

Controlled First Interactions

Once they’ve had a stress-free walk, you can allow them to meet while leashed in a controlled environment. Keep the leashes slack and let them sniff each other, which is a natural canine greeting behavior. You should supervise this meeting carefully, ready for an intervention if play turns to aggression. If you’re introducing a puppy to an older dog, make sure the puppy’s energy doesn’t overwhelm the older dog. It might be necessary to have short, separated interactions initially, gradually increasing their time together under your watchful eye.

Creating a Positive Shared Environment

Older dog eating out of food bowl of younger dog can cause fights later on

When you introduce dogs to each other, it’s beneficial to create an environment that reduces tension and promotes harmony. This involves careful management of resources, space, and activities.

How To Stop Resource Guarding Between Dogs

Resource guarding occurs when a dog feels the need to protect items like food, toys, or territory. To prevent this, ensure each dog has their own set of resources. Avoid tension by providing separate beds and feeding areas. Use obedience training sessions to teach your dogs an “off” command, allowing them to learn that backing away from each other’s belongings is rewarding.

Establishing a Peaceful Living Area

Designate specific zones in your home as peaceful areas where each dog can relax without being disturbed by the other. These areas should be separated enough to give each dog a sense of their own territory. Consistency is important, so always maintain these consistent, designated peaceful areas in your home.

Routine and Structure

A predictable schedule is crucial for dogs to coexist calmly. Establish clear routines for walking, eating, and resting times. Sticking to these routines gives your dogs a sense of security and minimizes opportunities for conflict. Consistent obedience training can reinforce routines and positive behavior.

Controlling Dinnertime

Dinnertime can be a significant source of stress if not managed properly. Feed your dogs at the same time but in different locations to avoid any confrontations over food. If mistakes occur, such as food being dropped, calmly use the “off” command to maintain order.

Controlling Playtime

two boxer dogs with a soccer ball play time is key to them getting along

Monitor playtime to ensure it remains friendly and give your dogs breaks to reduce overexcitement. If one dog seems less interested or wants to stop playing, respect their decision and separate the dogs if necessary. You play a pivotal role in their lives, so stay as the central figure during playtime to control the environment.

Using Body Blocks When Dogs Don’t Get Along

When your dogs are at odds, it can be a real headache, but you’ve got a tool that requires no fancy gear — body blocks. Imagine you’re a goalkeeper, but instead of saving goals, you’re guiding your dogs’ behavior.

Why Use Body Blocks?

  • Non-verbal communication: Your dogs are always watching how you move. They’re good at reading body language. You’re going to use that to your advantage.
  • Immediate feedback: Dogs live in the moment. A well-timed body block can stop a behavior right as it happens.
  • No force needed: This method isn’t about pushing or scolding. It’s gentle and clear.

How to Do It

  1. Spot the behavior: Eye your dogs, and the second you see one headed for mischief—maybe he’s eyeing his buddy’s toy — get ready to step in, literally.
  2. Take your position: Step into space in front of your dog. If he’s gearing up to jump on you, block his path. It’s like you’re saying, “Nope, not here.”
  3. React accordingly: Each dog is different. While a large, confident dog might need an obvious block, a small, shy one might just need you to lean in a bit.

Getting it Right

  • Be cool: Keep calm. If you’re flustered, your dog will be too.
  • Start slow: Practice with simple stuff. Maybe work on waiting before going out the door.

Finally, don’t forget about the plus sides of alone time. Teach your dogs that it’s okay to be by themselves by using treats and their favorite toys. Make good things happen then, and they’ll start to dig their solo hangouts.

In multi-dog homes, using body blocks is a great way to handle jealousy. When one dog is getting treats, the other can learn patience. Start easy, then up the challenge, rewarding the waiting dog for staying chill.

And that’s body blocks in a nutshell. No words, no hands, just you and good timing. Keep practicing, and watch the peace and order take over your pack.

Obedience and Training To Help Dogs Get A Long

In guiding two dogs to coexist harmoniously, focusing on obedience and training is paramount. This approach provides structure and teaches self-control, enabling them to interact positively.

Basic Obedience Commands

Begin with basic obedience commands like ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘come’, ‘down’, and ‘leave it’. Train each dog individually first, then together to foster mutual respect. Certify that your dogs understand these commands and respond reliably. The self-control exercise is a mainstay, teaching your dogs to wait patiently for their rewards increases their ability to coexist peacefully.

  • Sit – Essential for control and as a starting point for other exercises
  • Stay – Encourages self-discipline when there’s a need to halt their actions
  • Come – Ensures they return to you amidst distractions
  • Down – Helpful to calm excitement levels
  • Leave it – Teaches them to avoid unwanted behaviors or objects

Handling Aggression and Tension

To manage aggression and tension, intervening early is key. Supervise interactions and look out for defensive or dominant behaviors. Dinnertime in a multi-dog household, for example, requires clear rules to avoid chaos. Feed dogs separately or teach them to move to a different area post-meal, rewarding them for not invading each other’s space. Such routines affirm your role as the leader.

When guests visit, and your dogs become overexcited, you must intervene to circumvent aggression. Teach them a calm behavior like fetching a toy or retreating to a specific spot. Body blocks are effective for managing doorways and mealtime manners – by intervening physically, without contact, you are mimicking canine communication methods.

Teach them to “wait” individually then together before exiting doors. This training installs a level of respect for you and each other, by ensuring they don’t rush or potentially cause fights. The consistent application of these techniques underscores their obedience training, shaping them into well-mannered companions.

Preventing Fights In Dogs That Don’t Get Along

Establish Commands and Routines

Teaching a group “off” command is a powerful tool in your dog training arsenal. It’s all about instilling patience and polite behavior. Begin by teaching your dogs to back away from food in your hand, then graduate to food on the floor, and eventually introduce the command with the whole pack present.

Set Greeting Protocols

When greeting visitors, you’ll want to establish clear rules and boundaries. Opt for teaching your dogs to back up, stay put, or fetch a toy to keep them occupied. Training your dogs to behave politely during arrivals is crucial, and managing your pet’s emotions can help prevent jealousy that may turn into aggression.

Handling Fights

If a fight breaks out, your priority is safety — for the dogs and yourself. Avoid grabbing collars; you might get bitten. Instead, a distraction or body blocks can be effective. If necessary, pulling apart by the back legs is safer. After breaking up a fight, use down-stays or separate with gates or crates for a cool-down period. Learn more about disciplinary actions after a fight to ensure peace is maintained.

By combining prevention, clear commands, and tranquil conflict resolution, you pave the way for a peaceful and well-mannered dog household. Remember, calmness is key — responding with excitement can escalate the situation. Celebrate your peacekeeping triumphs; they contribute to a safer and more contented home environment.

Managing the Pack Dynamics

a man walking a pack of dogs to manage pack dynamics and make sure dogs get along

When introducing a new dog to your home or trying to improve relations between your current dogs, it’s vital to manage pack dynamics effectively. This includes ensuring dogs feel secure in receiving attention and resources, and addressing underlying issues, such as jealousy and competitiveness, which can lead to conflicts.

Ensuring Equal Attention and Resources

It’s important to give each dog equal amounts of attention. This includes love, playtime, and training sessions. Make a schedule if you need to, so you don’t accidentally favor one over the other. Also, be sure your dogs have their own things like food bowls, beds, and toys. This can help prevent resource guarding, which happens when a dog feels they need to protect their stuff from others.

  • Patience: Remember, building a bond between dogs takes time.
  • Mistakes: Learn from any mistakes and adjust your approach accordingly.

Addressing Jealousy and Competitiveness

Jealousy can cause a clash between dogs and lead to aggressive behaviors. You’ll need to spot signs of jealousy and nip them in the bud. If one dog pushes in for attention when you’re with the other, calmly but firmly redirect them to an appropriate behavior or to their own space.

If you notice signs of dominance or competitiveness during play or resource access, stay calm and intervene before any tensions escalate. Here’s how:

  • Command Training: Use commands they know and respond to. This reinforces your role as the pack leader and provides structure.

Remember, every dog wants to feel like a valued member of the pack. It’s your job to adopt strategies that help maintain peace and foster strong relationships between your dogs.

When to Seek Professional Help

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your dogs might not get along. In these cases, you might need to seek professional help to ensure the safety and happiness of your pets.

Recognizing Behavioral Issues

Tension Between Dogs: If you notice a continuous pattern of aggressive behavior such as growling, snapping, or biting, it’s a significant sign that there’s tension between your dogs. Aggressive encounters can escalate and might require the intervention of a behaviorist to address underlying issues.

Leadership Conflicts: Dogs often establish a hierarchy, and conflicts can arise if a clear leader is not established. If your attempts to promote a peaceful environment fail and the rivalry continues, professional help could guide your dogs to a more amicable relationship.

Finding the Right Expert for Your Dogs

Seeking Expertise: Look for a professional who specializes in dog behavior. A certified animal behaviorist or a veterinarian with a background in animal psychology can be great resources. These experts can observe and interpret your dogs’ interactions and provide tailored advice for your situation.

Building Friendships: A specialist in dog behavior can work with your more outgoing or defensive dog to manage their reactions. They’ll help you change the dogs’ associations with each other from negative to positive, which is a step towards making them friends.

Remember, asking for professional help is a responsible step towards creating a safer and more peaceful home for your dogs.

Considering Rehoming When Dogs Don’t Get Along

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your pups just don’t see eye to eye. Don’t feel discouraged; it’s not uncommon for dogs to have personality clashes. If you’re thinking about rehoming one of your dogs, here are a few points for you to consider.

  • Evaluate the Situation: Take note of when and why your dogs aren’t getting along. Is it a fight over food, toys, or attention?
  • Seek Professional Help: Before making a decision, consult with a veterinarian or a dog behaviorist. They can provide insights into whether the situation can improve with training.
  • Safety First: If there’s aggression and the safety of your dogs or family is at risk, separation might be necessary.
  • The Well-being of Your Dogs: Consider each dog’s happiness. Would one of your dogs thrive in a home where it’s the only pet?
  • A Thoughtful Process: Rehoming should be done carefully. Ensure the new home is a good fit for your dog’s needs.

Remember, rehoming is a big step and not the only option if your dogs don’t get along (Rescue Dog: A Guide to Successful Re-homing). If separation becomes necessary, do it with kindness and patience, prioritizing the happiness and health of both dogs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

In this section, you’ll find answers to commonly asked questions that will help your dogs live together harmoniously. From initial introductions to resolving conflicts, these tips are tailored to create a peaceful coexistence.

What steps should I take to help my two dogs live together peacefully?

To promote a peaceful living situation between your dogs, start with controlled introductions in a neutral space. Allow them to sniff and explore each other while on leashes and observe their body language closely. Positive reinforcement and patient, gradual socialization are key, as outlined in The Other End of the Leash.

What should I prepare for before introducing a second dog into my home?

Before bringing a second dog home, ensure that you have a separate space for each dog to retreat to. This provides a sense of security and personal territory. Also, have separate food bowls and toys to prevent resource guarding, which can lead to tensions.

What can I do if my dogs have gotten into a fight to encourage them to be friendly again?

After a fight, give your dogs time to calm down separately before reintroducing them in a neutral and controlled environment. Supervise closely and praise calm behavior. Consistency in positive reinforcement after calm interactions can rebuild a positive relationship.

How can I help two female dogs coexist without conflict?

For two female dogs to coexist without conflict, spaying can mitigate some territorial and competitive behaviors. Establish clear rules and routines to provide structure, and ensure each dog receives individual attention and training.

What are some effective ways to facilitate a good relationship between two male dogs?

Neutering can help reduce aggressive tendencies between two male dogs. Establish a training regimen that reinforces desired behaviors and use positive reinforcement to encourage friendly interactions. Avoid competition over resources by providing ample toys and attention.

What are the best practices for introducing a new puppy to my older dog?

When introducing a new puppy to an older dog, it’s important to monitor their interactions closely. Allow your older dog to approach the puppy on their own terms, and make sure the puppy has time to explore their new environment independently. Training sessions with both dogs can also promote bonding and help them get along better.

Final Thoughts

When you’re helping your two dogs become friends, remember patience is key. It can take time for pups to adjust to one another, just like us meeting new people. Keep an eye on their body language and give them breaks from each other if things get too rowdy.

  • Supervise interactions: Keep a close watch when your dogs are together.
  • Positive reinforcement: Reward your dogs for calm behavior around each other.
  • Separate resources: Give each dog their own food, water, toys, and bed to avoid any squabbles.
  • Routine: Dogs love a predictable routine. Stick to regular feeding, walking, and play times.

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your dogs may not become best buddies. That’s okay! Just like people, dogs can have unique preferences. You might need to consult a professional, such as a veterinarian or an animal behaviorist, for additional support, especially if you notice signs of aggression.

Remember that relationships take time to build. Keep up with the positive vibes, and you’ll maximize the chances of your pups living in harmony.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe

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Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.