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Introducing Dogs


People often introduce dogs on leash or at the off-leash park. If you are dealing with low-level Betas and lower (Omega) then this would likely never present a problem. As you enter into the dogs that want to run the show such as high-level Betas and higher (Alphas) then you can run into problems.


The act of wanting to go up and greet or sniff another dog is an assertive and dominant behaviour. Under the Pack Structure Rules a higher ranking dog can sniff a lower ranking dog but not the other way around. This is why you can sometimes see two dogs sniffing and all of a sudden one may growl or snap at the other dog. They are asserting their position over the other dogs.


The dogs that are polite will stay off to the side and let another dog come up to them. The polite dogs may also curve their body toward the other dog as if they were showing a vulnerable side to the higher ranking dog. You can also sometimes see a polite low ranking dog drop to their back and show their belly, again allowing the higher ranking dog to come over and sniff them.


The Safe Way to Greet


Since it can be difficult to determine whether another dog will be nice to your dog there are steps you can follow to help ensure things go more smoothly.


If we are introducing dogs that are new to each other we will use a 50 foot long line for each dog and an anti-pull harness where the rope connects to the dog’s chest. With two people, one for each dog, they can practice calling the dog back to them in the opposite direction of the other dog. Then go back within 50 feet of the other dog and call them away again. This helps get the dog focusing on you while seeing the other dog. The biggest chance for a fight is the initial time they see each other. If you can take the initial time they see each other and have them focusing on a command such as recall it helps disarm the situation.


They can read the other dog and realize they don’t pose as much of a threat. Then as the dogs settle down you can then tie them up to a fence or a tree with them 20 feet apart from each other. Practice doing sit and down commands, use their kibble if necessary to get them focusing on you while they are next to each other.


Safest in neutral territory


Practicing this in an area that is neither dogs home domain also helps.


Bringing them back to the house


In the house you can bring them in and tie them up away from each other. Practice commands with them to again have them focusing on you and less on the other dog.


Both dogs should see you as the leader


We made it a policy that we would never let two dogs meet unless both saw you as the leader of the pack. That way if you said the other dog was ok, they had to say the other dog was ok.


Time will tell


It would depend on the dogs but sometimes you feel comfortable letting them greet right away as they show no signs of aggression or interest in the other dog. Other times it could be days before you let them greet. We had one dog aggressive dog here for training and it was 4 days before we let her greet any other dogs that were here. There was never even the tiniest tiff between the dogs we let greet her. They all seemed to understand that they became a pack together.


Big pack sizes can give false readings


If you take one dog that may be a bit dog aggressive and bring them into a pack of other dogs that are ok, the dog aggressive dog can be on their best behaviour. It seems to be an unwritten rule that if you take on one dog out of that pack you have to take on all the dogs out of that pack. So this dog aggressive dog may play it safe for a few days before it learns the inner workings of that pack and then decides to pick a fight with a dog within that pack.


Some dogs just don’t do well with any other dogs plain and simple


If you take two dogs of equal size or strength that both want to be boss and match them together, you can have some of the worst fights you will ever come across. At least if one dog were to win things can sometimes be settled. When they are evenly matched a fight isn’t won so easily. They can battle back and forth any chance they get until one finally does get injured enough to back down or in worst case scenarios gets killed by the other dog.


Solutions


Following Pack Structure Rules and having the dogs see you as the leader can sometimes help out. If they know that fighting will upset you that can sometimes stop the fights while you are present. However if you are gone they can still often get into fights.


Old school methods


An old school method was to use a fairly harsh consequence for fighting. We have heard of people using a 2x4 on guardian dogs that got into fights. A good club to the side of the head or body and that would sometimes be enough to stop the fight. If the dogs deemed that to be enough of a consequence to not fight then the problem would be solved or at least when the alpha human was present. Most times though they would just resume their fighting when the humans were away.


Best method


The best thing seems to be introducing them as we mentioned and ensure they get along naturally together. If they don’t it often seems best to move one of the dogs to a different pack where things flow together naturally. There may be other methods that work well but we don’t know of any “sure bets”. Put it this way, with all the years we have spent working with dogs, if they didn’t get along naturally well or with only a little work we would move one of the dogs to a different pack.


There is a zoo not far from us that has wolves from different packs. They share the same play yard but at different times. Their concern is that if they tried to mix them together they would kill each other.


Someone some day may come up with an idea that works great but until then those are the best tips we can give.