For some of us, dogs are like potato chips… you can never have just one!
But, if only it was that easy. Unfortunately, dogs don’t always get along right off the bat, so it might take some work on our part for them to realize that there is a perk to having a friend.
It can typically take about a month for dogs to start getting along. Understanding why dogs may not get along, committing to a proper introduction routine, temporarily crating and rotating, ensuring the dogs understand that fights are not tolerated with constant supervision, not changing the routine, offering equal attention, mental stimulation, and bonding over mutual experiences can help.
In this article, I’ll give tips and tricks to help your dogs get along (even when they don’t want to). Like children, sometimes they just don’t quite see the benefits until you show it to them.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
On average, four weeks (one month) is how long it takes for your existing dog to accept the new dog as a part of the household. Granted, this is a vast generalized approximation because each dog is an individual; some take more time, and some take no time at all!
You must remember to look at this from your pup’s perspective: Your existing dog(s) are used to things in a particular way. They have a specific routine, a specific amount of your attention, and a specific lifestyle.
Introducing a new dog into your home will change many things, which your pup could see as a drastic event. Changes take some time to settle in, and a month is what can be expected on that front.
The best course of action to remedy two dogs not getting along is to understand why.
Much like humans, sometimes we just don’t mesh - but it is possible to learn to get along over time! Some common reasons dogs may be snippy with each other at first include:
If you can sort out which of the above or which mixture of the above is causing the problem, you will have a better opportunity to fix it.
That being said, issues like same-sex aggression need to be sorted out before getting a new dog. The easiest fix is to not adopt or purchase a dog of the same gender. Reactivity is another such culprit that needs to be dealt with before the idea of a second dog comes into play.
If you’re reading this article before getting the second dog, great! This is the part most people mess up on, and it can cause some issues later on.
You want to ensure that your dogs are properly introduced to one another, as this can help ease the process.
When bringing home the new dog, you want to ensure both pups meet on neutral territory. This can be a parking lot, a local park, or something. A place that is not your home, where your existing dog considers their territory.
Put both dogs on leashes and have someone help you. Then, you hold the new dog, and someone holds your existing dog.
Once your two dogs have had a chance to meet, take them both on a long walk together. This helps ease the transition and doesn’t make it feel like the new dog is suddenly invading your existing dog’s territory. After the long walk, when you feel the dogs have become tolerant of one another, you can start to go home.
Just because things went well on the walk doesn’t exactly mean that it’ll be the same situation at home. Even if your pups seem to get along on a surface level, you may not be aware of the tension brewing underneath. As such, you should commit to keeping your two pups separate and introducing them to one another’s space in doses.
Doing the “crate and rotate” routine can work well. This refers to keeping one dog kenneled while the other is out and vice versa. With dedicated times to hang out together in between! This also helps you regulate their interactions with one another, as keeping them supervised is important.
On the topic of supervision, definitely do not leave your pups alone with one another in the initial introduction period.
This time frame is fraught with problems and potentially life-threatening incidents. Whenever your two pups are around one another, you must ensure they are being watched!
This helps you catch poor behavior immediately as it is and teach each dog boundaries and allowed forms of interaction. This is similar to raising children siblings, where you have to teach respect.
You must ensure both dogs understand that fighting will not be tolerated under any circumstance.
Dog fights can be nasty and dangerous, causing significant injury to one another (both physically and psychologically). This is where supervision is vital; you want to catch the start of a dog fight before it progresses into something worse.
When catching the start of a dog fight, you will need to scold the offending dog so that they understand that fighting is not okay. Watching behavior helps identify which dog was the culprit of the situation, and the correct dog can be scolded.
Separate the two and give them a cool-off period before trying to reintroduce them again.
Misbehavior often finds itself rooted in jealousy because most dogs are naturally possessive of their owners. Offering both dogs equal attention can help remedy this situation, even if it can be hard at times!
Try not to show one dog more attention than the other, especially when together. Both pups are members of your household and family; treat them accordingly!
In dogs, making sure they are stimulated tends to be the magic wand in fixing a lot of behavioral issues. From chewing furniture to getting into fights with the new dog in the house, a lot of behavior can stem from not having their energy placed into enough outlets.
Giving your puppy puzzle toys, activities, and training tricks can all ensure that their mind is constantly stimulated. Mental stimulation can be just as exhausting as physical stimulation, making it a great solution for days when you aren’t apt to go on a long walk.
Physical stimulation in the form of walks, playtime, dog sports, and more helps keep the body well-used and needing rest.
The resting period after being successfully stimulated mentally and/or physically is what you’re looking for - your dogs will be too tired to cause trouble and well satisfied to not pick fights with one another!
Just like humans, dogs can bond with one another over shared experiences. Taking both dogs on a walk together, on a road trip, or even training tricks together can all help them get along better. The more the two dogs interact in positive manners and activities, the better they’ll begin to enjoy each other’s company.
This also helps from keeping any of the dogs from feeling left out, which could lead to anger and aggression. Besides, having more than one dog is a great excuse to get out and do more fun things together!
With a new dog coming in, enough big changes will occur to throw the existing dog off kilter. Try to mitigate this by not drastically changing the routine. Change is hard for dogs to handle; the more that remains the same, the easier the transition will be.
If your existing dog sleeps on the bed with you, continue allowing them to do so. Feed your pup at the time you’ve always fed them. Make sure walk time is around the same time as well. Little things like that make the biggest difference!
Remember, the new dog needs to fit into your current routine… not the other way around.
If you find that all of the above methods are not helping the situation, hiring a professional can help. Consulting with a canine behaviorist may provide insight into what the problem is, and a professional dog trainer can potentially help fix these issues.
Just make sure that the individuals you hire are well-versed in the topic. It’s a very different world between training doggy manners and helping train two dogs to get along!
Unfortunately, it is essential to note that even with your best efforts, some dogs will never get along.
You and I can only speculate as to why this may be, but the bottom line is sometimes this happens. If you find yourself in a situation where a dog of yours doesn’t get along with the other one (or the rest of them), a decision will need to be made.
You can either find the offending pup a home in which they thrive better (maybe that dog does best in a single-dog household!). Rehoming is nothing to be ashamed of, as you’re putting your dog’s needs above your own.
Or, you can manage the situation with a permanent crate and rotate routine. Just remember that this is something you’ll have to remain diligent on, as management is a lifetime commitment (and mismanagement can lead to injury).
Most trainers will suggest the rehoming route, as management has a lot of room for error.