Whether you are considering getting a second dog or you are having trouble walking your current dog, an aggressive pup makes things difficult. If you’re wondering how to introduce a new dog to an aggressive dog, we will be going through the best ways to do so and what methods you should be avoiding.
When you are introducing a new dog to an aggressive dog, the process should be undertaking with caution and patience. Neither dog is reacting in a negative manner to frustrate you, and understanding the reasons why they may be behaving this way can help you to find the best way around it. Some dogs are aggressive with all dogs, whereas others have selective aggression.
How to Introduce a New Dog to an Aggressive Dog?
Here is a four-step process to introduce a new dog to an aggressive dog. Please note that the aid of a behaviorist is always important. Furthermore, always make sure you are in control of your dog.
Step 0: Preparations
Before even allowing your aggressive dog to see a new dog, there are some preparations that you can take to allow the process to be a lot more smooth and go more quickly. If you make sure that each dog has a blanket left in their bed for a few nights or an area they lie in a lot, in case they sleep in your bed like many cheeky pups. You should then provide your dog with the blanket of the other to sniff and familiarize themselves with. Dog’s senses are a form of communication, often more prominent than verbal communication. Their olfactory sense, also known as their sense of smell, is arguably their most important tool of communication. Therefore, providing your dogs with the scent of one another is essentially a miniature, safe mock preparatory introduction.
Step 1: Keep Them on Leashes
For their first in person introduction, you will want to walk them on leashes, preferably with back-clipped harnesses. Many owners just consider using a collar, and although there are a variety of collar types to consider which all hold their own purpose, they are not ideal in this situation. Aggressive dogs will often pull on their collar towards another dog in an attempt to get closer to them and attack them.
When a dog wearing a collar pulls strongly away from their owner, their collars can begin to choke them, cause them physical damage, they could slip out of them, and overall owners have much less control over their dog. A harness provides a safe option to control your dog more thoroughly. You may also want to consider a muzzle for safety. However, this may make some dogs more reactive, it all depends on your individual.
Step 2: Walk Them Together At A Distance
This step does not mean to allow your dogs to walk side by side. Instead, walk both dogs in the same direction with a space between. Make sure that the area you are walking them in has minimal distractions such as traffic or other dogs. For an aggressive dog, they should not be overwhelmed. They may become overly stimulated which leads to a minimized chance of success in the meeting.
Make sure that the gap between your dogs is significant enough that there is no chance of injury or increased stress. Use positive reinforcement whenever your dogs are behaving well, this includes walking normally and behaving calmly. If one begins to behave erratically, do not pull on their leash. Stop walking them, increase the distance between them, and wait for your dog to calm down and sit. Once they have done this, reward them with a treat and carry on the walk.
Step 3: Gradually Bring Them Close
Over time, the distance should gradually be increased. However, this should only be done once your dogs are walking completely calmly with the first distance placed between them. If there are still signs of aggression, keep to step two. This step may take a week or two of walks but it is crucial to complete before progressing.
As you increase the space, do so with each walk just a bit and reduce the distance with any reactivity. Make sure to keep rewarding them with treats as they progress through the walk calmly and quietly. Keep doing this until your dog is calmly walking behind the other and minimal signs of aggression are evident.
Step 4: Let Them Mingle
There will reach a point where your dog is calm enough for a gentle introduction. Some dogs are lead reactive, however. Which can be defined as a dog that is more negatively reactive to stimuli and socialization whilst on a lead due to feeling vulnerable. Leash reactivity should be corrected before a meeting is encouraged between a new dog and an aggressive dog as this will only increase the chances of their meeting going negatively. If neither dog is leash reactive, allow them to approach each other with a harness and leash on, so the situation can be as controlled as possible.
They should be allowed to sniff each other at a small distance and remain calm, remember to praise them. Eventually they should be allowed to meet face to face. Be sure to monitor their behavior and look for signs of negative behavior from the canine aggression ladder. If you see any of these signs, take a step back and allow your dogs to relax once more. Have patience, and a calm sniff is a great step. From gentle sniffing on the lead, to standing next to each and sitting calmly. You can then consider taking your dog off the leash and allowing them in a contained area.
Types of Dog Tolerance
Each dog experiences a different type of tolerance to people, other dogs, and social situations. From positive, neutral, and negative states of tolerance, we will explain each type your dog may have. These can help you to predict the behavior and responses of your dog in different situations.
Dogs with a social tolerance have a positive and often confident outlook towards interacting with other dogs. A dog with a dog social tolerance may always bound up to another dog to play, or gently wait to greet them with a wagging tail. The key point here is that your dog will display a positive reaction towards all receptive dogs. These dogs have almost always been properly introduced to dogs during sensitive periods during their puppyhood.
Their behavior and outlook may differ from one another though due to their personality and traits. If you own a hyperactive dog, they are more likely to display their sociable nature in a more playful and energetic manner, such as doing a bow to initiate play and then bounding up and jumping up and around another dog. In contrast, an elderly or calmer dog is more likely to approach each dog gently but still wagging their tail. Both dog types have a social disposition, but in relation to their own personality.
To be classified as dog tolerant, a dog will feel and react indifferently to other dogs. This is not to say that a dog will not be able to form friendships with other dogs, but their natural disposition and feelings towards other dogs is that of neutrality. Similarly, with provocation or frustration, a dog with this tolerance also has the ability to be aggressive.
These dogs may or may not have been properly socialized when they were puppies. Their behavior and initial dog reactions may be influenced by their personality alone. Some dogs have been socialized with cats and humans only and have not been well socialized with other dogs, this can lead to their indifference. Others may just not be a dog that craves canine socialization. It is unusual, but it does happen, it is more common in older dogs especially. These dogs often prefer quiet interactions and those with humans, many even prefer solitude for the majority of their time.
Like humans, sometimes dogs will have preferences over dogs. They will form friendships with one another and may even dislike certain dogs because of the physical or behavioral traits they possess. One commonly seen situation in dogs is a reaction to one breed type or physical trait. This can be induced due to a negative past, an example of this is if your dog has been attacked by a long-haired, large dog, then your dog may be selectively aggressive towards similar-looking individuals.
A dog’s selective aggression may also come from fear aimed at certain individuals, this is commonly seen in small dogs with ‘little dog syndrome’. Little dog syndrome is not a real condition, but a term used to describe the behavior of small dogs overcompensation for their feelings of vulnerability with either just vocal or all-round aggression. Small dogs with this will be selectively aggressive towards large dogs usually, although luckily, the small dog will usually appear more aggressive than actually attacking.
These are dogs that are either always aggressive or nearly always aggressive towards other dogs. They are highly reactive and will quickly progress behaviorally through the canine ladder of aggression, some will often skip steps and reach those of higher severity quickly. These dogs have either had a traumatic social interaction, improper or no socialization as a puppy, or have extreme anxiety.
You need to carefully monitor dog aggressive dogs, these types of behaviors will not just go away. It requires patience, and the expertise of a behaviorist. It may even be the case that you should avoid situations where your dog will meet others, depending on your circumstances and theirs. Many aggressive dogs do have the potential to have their behavior corrected and their aggression minimized or even eradicated, but this can take years and is not always the ideal treatment, especially for an elderly dog.
Reactive dogs are those that do not show signs of aggression towards other dogs, unless they are being affected by certain triggers. One of the most common triggers for dog reactivity is walking them on a leash. Many dogs suffer from leash reactivity, which is where they meet another dog whilst on the leash. As they feel constrained, they also feel more vulnerable. This vulnerability manifests itself into aggression as a form of protection.
The best way to help a reactive dog with its socialization skills, is to try to identify and then remove their triggers in times of social interaction. In the case of lead reactivity, take your dog off the lead when meeting a new dog, if this is possible.
Introducing a New Dog to an Aggressive Dog – FAQ
We have answered the most frequently asked questions about aggressive dog introductions below.
An aggressive dog should be introduced to another dog over a large period of time with a lot of space and control. A behaviorist can recommend how long your aggressive dog will need to adjust and what provisions you should put in place to aid them specifically.
It can take anywhere from a week to months depending on the aggression level of your dog. Patience is key in this process and no step should be rushed, else you, your dog, or others could be injured.
You must have patience, older dogs may take longer to adjust to a new dog and you have to respect their boundaries. The process should not be rushed and the help of a behaviorist is strongly advised.
There is one piece of advice to note. Your puppy should always be monitored during the interaction. Puppies often don’t understand limits and will overwhelm any dog, this can be especially worrying for aggressive dogs.
A crucial point to take into consideration is the vulnerability if a puppy, and although the process is relatively similar as we have already described. They should be removed from your dog if they show any signs of displeasure. Many behaviorists may recommend not to purchase a puppy if you own a new dog.
Introducing a new dog to an aggressive dog is a difficult task, and sometimes it is not the right decision. However, if it is it, be patient and allow your dog to develop confidence and comfort over time.