Dogs are social animals. They usually enjoy being around other dogs. When introducing dogs to one another, first impressions matter.

Putting them out in the yard alone together to just let them work it out is not a good idea. If the new dog is going to be living with you it may be even a little more difficult. The resident dog may not like a newcomer moving into his house and getting your attention.

For the first meeting have another person with you so you can each take care of one of the dogs. Each dog should be on a leash. Take them to a neutral place so your resident dog won’t feel territorial. Let them greet each other. Keep their leashes slack so they won’t feel like they are being held back. Take them for a walk. Talk to them in a calm voice. Give them each a simple command. When they obey, give them a treat and praise them.

They may sniff each other, circle or just ignore each other. Watch their posture. The play-bow when one dog crouches with his front legs on the ground and his hind end in the air is an invitation to play. The other dog will usually respond in a friendly manner.

If they show aggressive behavior, such as hair standing up on a dog’s back, teeth-baring, deep growls, a stiff-legged walk or even a prolonged stare, calmly get them interested in something else. Waving a treat in front of them may be enough to distract them. Try letting the dogs interact again for perhaps a shorter time or a greater distance apart.

When they seem to be getting along, take them to your yard. Let them play off of their leashes but supervise them. If they are getting along and playing nicely, take them into the house. Let the resident dog off of his leash while the new dog explores the house on his leash. If things are going well and your dog seems comfortable with the situation, let the new dog off of his leash also, but supervise their time together until they have been getting along without squabbling for a couple of weeks. If you have to be away, put them in separate rooms or crates.

Even if your dog has never acted possessive before, he might feel differently if he thinks he has to share the things he considers his with another dog. Each dog should have his own food bowl, bed and toys. Don’t let them fight over possessions.

Spend time every day with each dog separately so that your resident dog continues to get time when he has your full attention and your new dog bonds with you.

After a period of time, if the introductions are still not going well for whatever reasons, talk to your vet or a professional animal behaviorist. The longer you wait to fix a problem, the harder it will be to fix. Punishment won’t work and sometimes makes matters worse. Fortunately, most problems between dogs in the same family can be resolved in a timely manner.

If you would like to adopt a dog, visit the Pittsburg County Animal Shelter at 1206 S. West St. in McAlester. The hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The phone number is 918-423-7803. The adoption fee for dogs is $20. The dog will be spayed or neutered, vaccinated and microchipped before leaving the shelter.

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