Dogs meeting new animals whether you have a new dog arriving soon, dogs meeting new animals, and introductions to other house pets can be a source of apprehension for pet parents. Here I guide you through a few simple steps to help you along.
Firstly and most importantly, drop any expectations of the time it takes. Friendships will form when and if they are ready and compatible. Friendships cannot be forced. Patience and understanding are key. Let’s take it slow, friendships grow over time. Fast-track introductions and you’ll be met with issues.
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Dogs Meeting New Animals At Home
Many households have more than one species of animal at home. Ranging from cats to rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, chickens, and more. It’s lovely when they truly bond and many do. However, there will be some that simply do not get on. In those circumstances, we need to manage the situation. Below are a few tips for helping dogs and other animals accept each other and hopefully become friends.
Dog to dog Introductions at home
A new family dog
Having new dogs join your family is exciting for us but can be daunting for your existing dog. Older dogs may find a newcomer is encroaching on their peaceful 1-2-1 life with you and adjustment time is required. Others take to each other really easily. How they jell is down to their character and all that’s gone before. This book By Heather Stevens Beyond The Breed helps you understand the character of a dog you have and find characters that will get on with one another.
A dog friend visits
Some dogs may well enjoy the company of others on a walk but equally enjoy their lone time at home and welcoming a new dog in such close proximity with the confines of a home and garden is a struggle. We cannot fast-track friendships and to step back and help them become buddies happens in their time.
How to introduce your dogs to one another
My suggestion is always to introduce out and about on the neutral ground and walk in together. Within the home, it’s always advisable to have a baby gate in place so they cannot make huge physical contact initially and just take the time to just get to know each other in safety. How long you keep them separated at home like this is dependant on how they get on. I’ve introduced many dogs to my family over the years and some have had the gate up for 24 hrs others three weeks and supervised sessions in the garden.
Know your canine body language and you will have a very good idea of how things are progressing.
A straightforward book with drawings to help you on your way is Talking Terms with Dogs – Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas. below is my favourite for both adults and children alike to understand what their dogs say by what they do
Dog and Cat Introductions
This is very much in line with introducing a new dog to your home. Again no fast track solution. They will do it in their time. Rule of thumb, have the cat’s food out of the way and an exit so your cat can run off if necessary without your dog in hot pursuit.
If your dog is a chaser of animals it’s worth having your dog on a trailing line in the home and garden to enable you to guide your dog away with ease if they are setting themselves up for more than a gentle approach and you can guide them away without a fuss.
Equally, your cat may insight and bug your dog, so turning them away at times will help them both learn some respect for each other’s space.
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Dog and Pet Introductions – Rabbits and Chickens
If you’ve rabbits, guinea pigs, and chickens we have to be mindful of gentle introductions. Fast-moving food sources are super enticing for those with a high prey drive. As with the above, it’s about not making a big drama out of introductions. Have your dog on a trailing line and guide away from any stalking behaviour to a calm state of mind. Being still and calm both in body and mind is paramount for the happiness and health of any animal.
Any stalking or bombing in towards the animals’ pen guide away and calm. You may have to walk your dog inside initially. Be by the pen between your dog and the other animal and block your dog from trying to interact. As with all introductions, it takes time and patience on your part.
Dogs Meeting New Animals On Walks
Whether it’s squirrels, cows, rabbits, horses, sheep, cattle, and birds, introductions are not necessary. What our dogs need to learn is that they are not fair game and you lead the walk and say if we chase or not ( Not in all cases). Until you are happy that your dog is responsive on a short and a long line on countryside walks they remain on these.
You’ll need to pass by many animals, recall your dog and have lead focus, and ignore the animal that runs, bolts, or flies for you to be confident they have no interest.
Meeting dogs on a walk
It’s important your dog is sociable as opposed to unsocial and invading others’ personal space in a rude manner. Choose your dog’s friends wisely. Just because you have a friend with a dog does not mean your dog can be their dogs’ friend.
Dogs meeting new people
On a walk
Always endevour to break your dog’s eye contact with anyone you come across. Curve around and ask the person to look to you if you’re going to stop for a chat.
People you meet and stand talking to for a while are the ones for your dog to interact with if they wish. A calm dog is a thinking dog so when your dog is relaxed behind or next to you, ask the friend to step back and call your dog if you and they wish. If your dog goes over for a gentle stroke then fine, but equally ok if they do not want to neet the non-family member. Not all dogs like strokes and cuddles and close interaction.
Dogs do not need physical contact to know humans are lovely and safe to be around. Simply being around them and not having to perform and say a close hello is ample. Think how would a child or you feel if it was always expected of you and them to have close contact with all you meet.
When visitors come to your house, pop your dog in the back room. When you welcome your guest in asking them to refrain from looking at, touching, or talking to your dog when you let them out. Your dog needs to sniff and find out in their doggy way about your guest. When your dog has relaxed away from your guest, you can invite them to call your dog for attention. Your dog can either go to them or not. Both are fine and on your dogs’ terms for happiness and safety.
Keeping your dog happy and relaxed is so important. When overwhelmed they act up. Always remember it is what your dog needs as opposed to what you think your dog needs that is so important to understand.
About Caroline Spencer
Caroline Spencer Natural Canine Behaviourist and author has over 30yrs experience with dogs from gundogs to pet dogs. She has written “Why Does My Dog Do That? and Co-Author of “Parenting Your New Puppy” With Lesley Harris. Caroline also designed the Happy At Heel Harness to help educate dogs to stop pulling. If you’d like a consultation via Zoom or in-person do contact Caroline via the following email address for details email@example.com