Tag Archives: introducing dogs

Getting dogs to get along

We have a friend who is constantly “managing” her dogs. She has six and not all of them get along with each other. And the groups aren’t consistent – individual dogs who were buddies yesterday can’t stand the sight of each other today.

It must be exhausting. One of the absolute “musts” in our house is that all the dogs get along. It’s not that we don’t have occasional spats. Of course we do. Some days the dogs are like three-year-olds: “Mom, he looked at me!”

“He looked at me first!”

“Tell him to stop looking!”

“I’m not! Tell him!”

At which point we calmly, hands over our ears, leave the room.

Tempers can flare

Dealing with the occasional brother battle is different than bringing a new dog home for the first time, especially if the newcomer is a puppy. Monitoring all interactions with a new dog is crucial. And a good familiarity with dog body language is a big help.

Once we know that the resident dogs aren’t planning to physically harm the new dog, we pretty much let them sort out their relationships for themselves. We try to step in only when one of the dogs seems out of control, or someone else is tired of being harassed.

Get along, little doggie

The hardest case we’ve ever seen was Dax, Hope’s first French Bulldog. Dax wasn’t the sweetest dog, but she wasn’t particularly obnoxious, either. When Hope brought Teddy home as a puppy, he instantly adored his big sister. Followed her everywhere. Grabbed her face and hung on. 

She completely and totally ignored him.

It was months before she even acknowledged his existence. And even then, it was to tell him to “knock it off!” – she’d finally had enough of him chewing on her face. It was probably about the same time he reached more than half her weight and his “attentions” really started to hurt.

Teddy was thrilled! His idol was finally paying attention to him. It didn’t matter that the attention wasn’t “good.” His persistence paid off. They became great friends and playmates for the rest of her life. 

Persistence pays again

Our current cast of characters is pretty interesting, too. Simon just turned two years old this Summer. Tango is 11. Simon is a fire plug of a Boston Terrier, 18 pounds of muscle. Tango is a long, skinny, bendy Brussels Griffon. They adore each other.

getting dogs to get along - Boston Terrier and Brussels Griffon lying side by side

Watching them, you’d swear we just lied. Every time Simon walks by Tango, Tango jumps up and yells at Simon. And Simon will deliberately rush at Tango and bop him with his paws, just to annoy him. Their interactions are incredibly loud, sound horrible, look nasty, and they both enjoy them enormously. 

Watching what matters

It took us a while to recognize that. Both of the dogs were having fun. At first, we thought Tango needed protection from the younger, stronger, heavier Simon. Then we noticed that it was Tango initiating the fuss-fests at least half the time. It’s how these two dogs’ relationship has developed. They understand it and it works for them. The other two dogs stay out of it. Smart pups!

Just like little kids, unless disagreements become violent, it’s probably best to let them work it out on their own. There’s no guarantee that they’ll be friends for life, but you’ll have a chance for peace.

Learning is a reward all its own

teddy_tripleThis past weekend Teddy, Torque and I (Hope) went to Ohio to visit with friends and compete in an agility trial. The visiting part went great – Teddy remembered all of his friends (canine and human) and was happy to add another doggy friend to the mix.

Torque got along great with almost everybody. People are no problem – he adores everybody. And three out of the four new dogs he thought were great. He just adored his new buddy Trevor the Yellow Labrador Retriever – he’d be happy to stick by Trevor forever.

The only snarkiness came between the two adolescent boys. Archie is about 14 months old, Torque just turned eight months. Two intact, youngsters being idiots. Torque was the bigger idiot – Archie is more of a lover than a fighter and retreated from the field at first.

The good news is that by the end of the weekend, even Torque and Archie were find together. It’s always a challenge introducing dogs – my friend Michelle and I were happy we were able to resolve this with just one real spat.

On the competition side – I learned a lot about Teddy’s and my partnership. From the way Teddy ran and behaved, I know he really does enjoy it – you can see it in the pictures from the trial – he looks alert, happy, athletic, and relaxed. We didn’t qualify at all – there was “just one thing” in each run that kept us from the ribbons.

I guess the most important thing I learned is that Teddy does agility for fun. He’s not competitive, so I’ve had to reassess the goals for Team Teddy. I think we’ll continue to play agility, for the fun, for the camaraderie, to get out and have some fun with my dog. If the ribbons come, that’s fine. And if they don’t? That’s going to be fine, too.