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Ask the Trainer: Safely Introducing Two Dogs

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Dear Kevin,
My husband and I have lived apart last year due to our jobs with homeland security. He is moving to my home with his 10 month old female (crazy, but sweet) Weimaraner named Emma. I recently rescued an 8 month old Staffordshire stray from Mexico that I have named Holly. She is absolutely wonderful with an incredible temperament.

What is a safe, yet effective way to introduce them to each other so they will becomes friends? They will share a large, fenced in back yard, so there is plenty of room for play. Emma was taught her “social skills” as a very small puppy by a full grown mastiff, so she is rough when she plays. Holly was a street dog but is super friendly. Any advice? I am 37 weeks pregnant and don’t feel like separating two fighting dogs!

Hey Jodie,

You have a pretty common concern which is a good one. Introducing new dogs and having it go well is very important, especially if they’re going to live together in the long term.

The way I recommend introducing two new dogs is to get them in the same area and wait until they lose interest in one another. This can be accomplished a couple different ways.

One way would be to take them both for a walk parallel to one another. As the walk continues and they are focusing on other things, you can then let a casual meeting happen. Make sure to keep it short. Sometimes the initial meeting goes sour because it lasts too long. Try to keep it to a second or two and then invite them away from each other followed by a reward.

The second way is to have them both doing a training session to get them to stay focused on the human instead of one another. As this happens gradually get them closer to one another until they meet. Once again make sure they are disinterested in one another and not full of excitement. Also, make sure to keep the initial one quick and positive. Below is a video of doing it with a reactive dog. It should go a bit smoother but the video gives a visual of the general idea.

Thank you for the question!
Kevin Duggan CPDT-KA

Kevin is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT.org)  and is a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator through the American Kennel Club. He currently resides in Ohio with his dog, V, a six-year-old Shepherd/Lab mix, where he operates All Dogs Go To Kevin, LLC, specializing in helping build positive relationships between humans and their canine companions using clear communication, not pain and fear. For more training tips and tricks, and to meet his amazing dog, V,  follow him on Facebook by clicking here.

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