No doubt, all
immediate family members have met the new dog and everyone
agrees you have chosen the best dog in the program. What
will you do when you get home? How will you introduce your
The safest way to
make introductions is to place both dogs in a down stay
position near to each other. This is not always possible, so
controlled upright introductions may be in order. Don't let
the dogs charge each other. The key here is you maintain
control: You are the pack leader. Only the pack leader
allows disputes to be settled, and typically the pack leader
settles disputes him- or herself. Assert your authority--do
not tolerate arguing.
Many dogs will
hackle up (puffing up their fur, noticeable first on the
dog's back) when meeting dogs they don't know. Since
hackling makes a dog appear larger, some dogs do this when
they feel threatened or powerless. Dogs will go through
ritual posturing when meeting for the first time and often
upon reintroduction. This posturing is a means of sizing
each other up and deciding which dog will be dominant.
Issues arise when the posturing is not enough to decide
which will be top dog.
Dogs will first
meet head on with heads held high and limbs stiff. They will
check each other out, front on. Then one dog will present
its side, or the more dominant dog may insist on moving up
so the dogs are side to side sizing each other up. They will
check flanks and genitalia. This may culminate in a quick
spin from the less dominant dog and a play bow--an
invitation to play. This is the usual progression of events
with dogs that can easily determine their status.
With dogs that are
more nearly equals, additional posturing and vocalizations
occur. The dogs will circle one another repeatedly. Be
alert, as sometimes these sessions are accompanied by
snapping and, if the dogs don't back down, fighting. Watch
for increased stiffness in the limbs, hackling, escalated
growling, direct eye contact, and lifted lips (snarl) or
bared teeth, as these are all preludes to fighting. Separate
the dogs and keep them separated for a time at home. Let
them see each other through a barrier, establishing your own
pack order if they cannot establish it without fighting.
Feed the higher dog first and pet the higher dog first. The
higher dog may sleep near you in your room. Take the higher
dog with you and the leave the other at home. Keep in mind
that the dog you chose as the lower dog may not agree with
you in cases where both dogs are very dominant.