How To Introduce A Puppy To A Dominant Dog
What Should I Do If My Puppy Is Introduced to a Dominant Dog?
Congratulations on the arrival of your new puppy! Isn’t it exciting and terrifying at the same time to become a new dog owner? No matter how much experience you have with dogs, each one is unique and presents new challenges, so it’s always a good idea to check in if you have any concerns.
Dominant or fearful?
To begin with, let’s clarify what you mean by “dominant.” The idea that dogs are aggressively dominant and want to be “alpha” has become discredited. Fear is at the root of what we used to call “dominant” behaviors (such as resource guarding). So, if you mean the other dog is dominant because he won’t let other dogs near his food, couch, or humans, he’ll be more fearful and protective of his prized possessions.
According to the RSPCA, “It is now widely recognized by animal behavioral specialists that dogs who use aggression toward humans or other dogs are not trying to be dominant.” Rather, social confusion, frustration, fear, anxiety, or learning are the most common causes of aggression.
Is it possible to postpone the meeting?
Second, you must decide whether or not this meeting is required. If the adult dog is only a casual acquaintance, it’s probably best to postpone the meeting until you’ve learned more about your new puppy and given them some good, positive experiences with other dogs—you don’t want to put them off meeting new dogs in the future if this meeting goes wrong. Of course, the adult dog may already belong to you, a housemate, or a family member, in which case the meeting can not be postponed.
What is the best place for them to meet?
It’s usually a good idea to hold the meeting somewhere other than your house. If the older dog is accustomed to having the house to himself, and if he’s prone to being possessive of his belongings, it’s best to remove him from that environment so that your puppy doesn’t appear to be a threat. Consider a safe, enclosed, and neutral environment, such as a friend’s garden. Before taking your new puppy anywhere, be sure to check his vaccination status.
What Is the Best Way to Introduce a Puppy to an Adult Dog?
You want both dogs to be close to one another but not pay attention to one another. Food or toys can be used, and the distance between the adult dog and the puppy must be sufficient for the adult dog to accept the puppy’s presence without feeling threatened or the need to defend his belongings. If both dogs are completely relaxed, you can move them closer together and keep the distraction going. You can try letting the adult dog sniff if they are still relaxed about the situation and you are within a few meters of each other.
Both dogs should be on leashes so that you can separate them if necessary, but the leashes should not be too tight, as this can cause dog behavior problems. Dogs communicate with their bodies, and dictating how easily they can move can result in misunderstanding. It’s best to use a long trailing line that you can grab if necessary. Allow both dogs to approach at their own pace, offering positive reinforcement if no signs of trouble are present. Remember that puppies can be annoying and still need to learn social skills, so you don’t always need to intervene if the adult dog acts to chastise your puppy. My own dog quickly learned not to approach my mother’s dog’s bed, and they get along fine elsewhere in the house. Mostly, the dogs will have to figure it out amongst themselves. If everything appears to be going well, I find that going for a walk together helps to cement the friendship—but, once again, make sure your puppy is safe to go out.
If a meeting isn’t going well, look for these signs.
It’s important to learn to read dog body language so you can spot when a meeting is going bad before an injury occurs or your puppy develops a fear of other dogs.
If the adult dog is interested and accepting, their ears will be forward, their tail will be upright and slowly wagging, and their posture will be relaxed. Your puppy may imitate this behavior, but at this age, they’re naturally submissive to older dogs and may crawl forward on their bellies, have their tail between their legs, stay low to the ground, or even urinate (another good reason to have the meeting outside).
You may notice signs such as ears back, crouched posture, stiff in the body, tail between legs (or upright and stiff), lifting of the lip, or growling if the adult dog isn’t happy about the meeting. If any of these things happen, it’s a good idea to move the puppy away from the adult dog as soon as possible. If it’s critical that these dogs get along, seek advice from a behaviorist.
Best of luck!
It may appear frightening, but keep in mind that the vast majority of dog-dog encounters are perfectly fine, especially if you’re introducing a puppy and an adult dog who isn’t normally aggressive to other dogs. Remember that you can always hire a dog trainer or behaviorist to find you. Finding one that uses force-free and positive-reinforcement techniques is a good idea.