Pet parents need to dedicate a lot of time to pet socialization as an unsocial dog might get terrified or act out around strangers or other pets. While busy pet parents can put off socialization for a later time, in many cases, they might have no other option. Introduction and familiarization become necessary if they are thinking of adopting another dog or are moving in with a partner who also owns a dog.

Many owners don’t know the right way to go about the introduction, leading to unresolvable conflicts. Imagine wanting to live with your partner but having to move out because of a dog conflict!

So, a careful and planned introduction between dogs is the crucial first step to building a healthy relationship between the pets.

Introducing dogs to each other requires a thoughtful and strategic approach to ensure a positive and harmonious interaction. The first step is to choose a neutral territory where neither dog feels the need to assert dominance. Allow the dogs to approach each other gradually, keeping leashes loose to minimize tension. Additionally, observe their body language closely, intervene if necessary, and reward good behavior to reinforce positive associations. This careful introduction process helps foster a smooth and amicable relationship between the dogs, setting the foundation for lasting companionship. Let’s jump into more details!

Dog Introduction Tips

Before you take the dog introduction lightly, let us warn you. Building a harmonious dog relationship can be challenging – especially if your dog has been the only one getting all the attention, is not very social, or has had a traumatic past.

Lucky for you, we are here with seven tips that you can follow to get your dog comfortable around other dogs or pets:

1.Understanding Dog Behavior

The first thing to do before introducing the dogs to each other is to understand your dog’s behavior. This step is crucial to understanding how to avoid dog conflicts in the future.

Because dogs cannot communicate like us, they display some signs when they are stressed or experiencing discomfort:

  • Tongue flicks (lips or nose)
  • Lifting front paws
  • Yawning excessively
  • Sniffing frantically
  • Panting with cheeks pointing
  • Eyes wide open with the white part of the eyes showing
  • Shaking off
  • Frowning

Dogs might display one or more of these signs when they are playful:

  • Ears in a neutral position
  • Open and relaxed mouth (cheeks not pointing)
  • Relaxed body posture (not stiff)
  • Wagging tail

When a dog becomes aggressive, here are some signs they show:

  • Stiff body posture
  • Curled lips
  • Barking
  • Growling
  • Snapping in the air
  • Wagging tail
  • Eyes are cold and staring

Experienced pet parents can read the signs easily. But if you’re a new pet parent, you should know that many signs like a wagging tail are seen when the dog is playful and even when they are aggressive. To differentiate, it is important to keep a watch out for the other signs during the first meeting between the dogs.

2.Preparation Before the Meeting

An understanding of dog behavior is important for preparing dogs for a new friend. A dog who is under stress would not be open to accepting another dog, no matter how playful it might usually be.

Apart from keeping both dogs well exercised and calm, it is important that the first meeting between dogs is kept in neutral territory like somewhere outdoors. A neutral territory helps avoid territorial behavior which is quite common in pets, especially canines.

3.The First Introduction

The first introduction should be subtle and gradual. Don’t expect the dogs to get super friendly with each other on their first meeting.

The first meeting should have the dogs on a leash with each walker maintaining a safe distance initially. Treats can help reinforce positive behavior. Even looking at the other dog without aggressively growling can be a positive behavior to reward.

What signs show that dogs are not getting along?

  •  A prolonged stare
  • Growling
  • Hair standing up on the back
  • Stiff body posture
  • Baring teeth
  • Eyes wide open with white part showing
man with three Australian Shepherd dogs on the meadow

If the dogs don’t show these negative signs, you can allow them to see and sniff each other without direct contact. But if they do, it is important to let them gradually ease out by planning more indirect meetings.

A green sign to let the dogs interact more closely is when they don’t show any of the above-listed negative signs upon meeting each other.

As a dog owner, I can guarantee that they can sense nerve or stress during the introduction. Try to stay calm, and use your voice friendly so they will be relaxed.

4.Monitoring Play and Interaction

When the dogs seem comfortable in neutral territory, you can let them play together. Make sure to select toys that don’t belong to either one of them, so they don’t show signs of territorial aggression.

There might be some conflicts when the dogs first start playing. If they show any of the above negative signs during playtime, it is important to intervene and plan the play for another day.

Should I intervene if dogs are growling at each other?

Growling is not necessarily a negative sign. For instance, exaggerated growling is a sign that the dog is playful. You can safely proceed to the next step when the dogs show these other positive play behaviors:

  • Open-mouthed grins
  • Exposed bellies and other signs of submissive behavior
  • A repeated desire to return to playing.

Dogs commonly exhibit playful behaviors like gentle play-biting, barking, chasing, swiping, and lunging, which is entirely normal. Yet, it’s essential to be aware that these actions can sometimes escalate from playful to aggressive, involving growling, biting, jumping, and excessive barking. Recognizing the signs of aggressive behavior is crucial to prevent potential harm to you or your dog.

5.Introducing Dogs in a Home Environment

The next big step is to introduce the dogs in a home environment. By the time they are playing comfortably with one another in neutral territory, their territorial behavior will have eased down to a great degree. But it is still important to initially use barriers and then gradually allow more freedom together.

If you are planning to move both dogs to the house, there will be shared resources like toys, beds, and food. As they ease up in the home environment, reinforce that these resources must be shared. Keeping a bag of high-value treats to reinforce good behavior can be quite helpful in this case.

6.Tips for Special Situations

Large and small dogs or puppies and older dogs can safely play and live together. The introduction process of the two canines would be somewhat the same with some additional considerations.

Many times, the initial introduction between the large and small dog or puppy might go well. But that doesn’t mean that you can leave them unattended. Careful monitoring and training are important when you want dogs of different sizes or ages to coexist.

The same goes for introducing dogs with known behavioral issues. They might show positive signs initially, but the process might seem difficult when it comes to sharing the territory. It is important to stay positive throughout the process and make sure the dogs are monitored and trained before they are left unattended with each other.

Cute corgi dogs lying on floor at home

7.Dealing with Ongoing Conflicts

While the entire process has been quite helpful in making the dogs comfortable with each other, there might be cases when the dogs continue to show aggression or fear toward each other.

In this case, you could seek professional help from a dog behaviorist or trainer who can help one or both dogs adapt to each other.


Introducing dogs to each other is not an easy task. It requires a gradual approach and a lot of patience. In many cases, dogs might suddenly begin showing negative aggressive behavior. In many others, they might take their time to start playing in the neutral territory but adjust well later. It is important to stay observant and consistent in your approach.

Because no two dogs are the same, you must remain positive throughout the process and continue reinforcing good behaviors.

Have a dog story to share? Please feel free to share your experiences of introducing your pets to new canine friends. Your story might help hundreds of other pet parents struggling through the process.

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