Dog Bonding – and How to Introduce One Dog to Another.

At Holidays4Dogs we’ve written frequently on the subject of humans bonding with pet dogs, but what about the dog to dog bond and the issue of friendship between dogs?  How do dogs bond with other dogs and is there anything we can do to help them with their social lives with their fellow four legged peers?  This article will be of interest to owners and Holiday4Dogs carers alike.

Dogs are social creatures that naturally live in groups or packs, but the way in which the modern domestic dog bonds with his fellow canine companions is different from the way in which wild dogs, or wolves for example, tend to bond.

Wolves bond with each other in ways that are associated with shared interests such as hunting or protection of the pack.  However, domesticated dogs tend to bond differently with other dogs and it doesn’t always come naturally.  Some experts in the world of behavioural science even believe that dogs have evolved to form stronger attachments with humans than with other dogs.  Some dogs are happy to bond with other canines; whereas others will only tolerate canine companions and be picky about who they choose to be friends with.

If you want to add another dog to the family or you need your dog to spend time with someone else’s dog, it is important to foster a harmonious relationship, because bonding between two (or more dogs) does not necessarily happen immediately.

dog sitting, pet sittingWhether you want to introduce another dog into the family on a permanent basis or you need your dog to get along with a friends or relatives dog from time to time – or you want to become a carer for Holidays4Dogs and you already have a resident dog! – it is good to help the dogs concerned to understand how to get along nicely.

To get things off to a good start it’s always best to introduce the dogs on neutral territory.  As dogs tend to be territorial, being faced with a sudden new-comer at the front door or in the back garden might be enough to put even a laid back dog’s nose out of joint – especially if he is used to being an only dog!

Find a suitable place for both dogs to meet on the lead; away from too many other distractions, other dogs, or noisy traffic.  Allow them to sniff, then walk them together in the same direction where they can get the measure of each other without being forced to interact.

dog sitting, pet sittingEncourage the dogs with plenty of praise for calm behaviour and interactions with each other – have a nonchalant and calm air yourself and do not let the leads become taut or tangled.

Move introductions into the back garden of the resident dog and then into the house.  Be mindful of the fact that the visiting dog will need space to prevent him from being overwhelmed in a new environment; so avoid allowing the resident dog to constantly follow the visitor around.

For a permanent new resident it is also important to provide him with his own space and not to let the original dog feel his space has been invaded.  Spend time with each dog separately too and don’t force the dogs to be together all the time as this is where tension can build, especially if they begin to feel they have to compete for your attention.

Allow the dogs plenty of time to play together, but at the same time make sure you supervise so that things don’t get too rough or out of hand – see our other Holidays4Dogs article on this subject of rough play.

Make sure both dogs know what you expect from them – ideally the resident dog should be fairly mature and well trained before introducing other dogs, especially on a permanent basis.

On the other hand, try not to expect too much when it comes to friendships between dogs as sometimes this can be a longer process than you expect.  If your current dog is already shy or nervous of new situations, it may take longer for him to get used to having another dog as a companion.  Many dogs will quickly adapt to having a new play mate, especially if they are already well behaved and confident and will interact nicely with strange dogs they meet while out on walks.  There will always be the exception, but even less confident and less sociable dogs can usually warm to having another dog as a companion – it just may take a little longer for them to get used to.