Dog Owner's Guide

Socialising your dog with your other pets

Step 1: Safety for both your pets

When you first bring your dog home, you should place him in a carrier that prevents him from having physical contact with your other pet and vice versa. However, both pets should be able to see, smell and hear each other. This allows both animals to adapt to each other in a safe way. When in an enclosed area, you may take your dog out. You may want to use gloves to prevent any scratches if your dog is nervous.

Step 2: Feeding

Try to feed your resident pet and your new dog on each side of the door. This will help them associate something enjoyable with each other's scent. After a few meals, you can gradually open the door just a little for both sides to see each other but not large enough for them to pass through. Repeat the feeding now with the door ajar. You need to be around to supervise at all times during the feeding.

Step 3: Swap scents

Switch sleeping blankets or beds between your new dog and your resident pet to help them get accustomed to each other's scent. If your pets do not have blankets, simply use a towel or rag to rub your pet all over their body before swapping for them to smell or sleep on. You can also place towels of one pet under the food bowl of the other pet and vice-versa.

Step 4: Swap living areas

Now let your new dog out into the living area of your resident pets, while putting your resident pets into the confinement area of your new dog. This can be done for some time each day under your supervision. This switch will help each party to explore the living areas and scents of the other without confrontation. The new dog can also become familiar with the living environment without fear of the other animals.

Step 5: Same-room interactions

This step has to be directly supervised by you at all times. If your resident pet is a dog, make sure he is on a leash and give him the command to "stay". If your resident pet is a cat, do not restrain but feed him with treats or catnip. Have another person sit on the other end of the room with your new dog. If he does not know how to "stay" then make sure he is on a short leash as well. When both dogs stop showing signs of aggression towards each other, reward them with treats. Make it a neutral, if not enjoyable, experience for both pets. Do this only for about five to 10 minutes before separating your pets again. It is better to have them interact for short intervals many times a day. Each time, bring them gradually closer to each other. Be sure to move your dog away if your other pet starts hissing or growling. Cats are known for getting panicky easily and may scratch your dog if it gets too close for comfort. This could badly hurt your dog's sensitive nose or ears. Do not try to rush both pets into interaction. After a few days of successful interactions, you can let your resident cat get to know your dog while making sure you keep your dog in the "stay" command or on a leash. Reward and give your dog treats whenever your cat is around him as this will help your dog link your cat's presence to something good.

Tips:

  • If you already have a dog and are thinking of getting another, it is advisable to get a dog of the opposite gender as dogs of the same sex are more likely to fight with each other.
  • If you currently own a male dog, he will probably be more accepting of a female and there will be fewer dominance struggles. However, if you want to get another male dog it is possible for them to peacefully co-exist and even become friends. It is essential to monitor their interactions early to ensure aggressive behaviors are discouraged.
  • If you currently own a female dog, she will probably be more accepting of a male, as males tend to be submissive. If he does not challenge your resident female's dominance, they will be able to get along well. Getting another female dog, however, may result in complications. The worst combination of dogs is two females because they are more inclined to fight over dominance than a male and a female or two males. But there are also many dog owners own two or more female dogs without any major problems. If your new female dog does not challenge your resident female's dominance, fights will be less likely.