Tips for Introducing a Small Dog to a Big Dog
11 February, 2013

A friend of mine recently adopted a cute little mutt from her local shelter.  She already has a big dog at home and is hoping that her new dog, Shelby, will get along well with her bigger dog, Captain.   As with all dogs, it isn’t merely about size when introductions are being made, but temperament and history can also come into play.

Below are some tips to help make the transition easier.

If possible, try to introduce your small dog to other small dogs

If you can introduce your smaller dog to another small dog or one of equal size, it is a great place to start.  See if a friend or neighbor has a dog of similar size to your pup that is already accustomed to being around other dogs.   If your dog appears comfortable and happy with other small dogs, then set up a date with a friend who has a medium-sized dog, and then continue to work up in size until you get the official meet and greet with your big dog.

If you can’t find another small dog or don’t have the time, start the introductions slowly.


Start the introductions from a distance

If your small dog seems to be nervous around your big dog, try introducing him or her to the bigger dog from a safe distance. Use gates to contain both dogs in individual spaces, but let them sniff each other and see one another.   This will help you determine how comfortable they are around each other.   Once they seem comfortable/and or like each other, you can go on to the next step.

Make sure to keep both dogs on a leash

When you let your dogs out of a controlled environment such as a gate, make sure that both dogs are wearing leashes.   A dog harness might even be more preferable as you can have better control over your dog’s movements.  If possible, let the smaller dog lead the way as they are usually shyer around big dogs.  Let the small dog smell the big dog, play with her and set the pace.

Once they seem to be OK this way, you can let them off leash and see how they do.  But, make sure to only let them off leash when you are there to supervise and observe.  If you have to leave them unsupervised at the beginning, make sure that each has their own space such as a crate or keep one dog inside and one outside while you are away.

Reward your dog(s) for good behavior.

Always reward your dogs for behaving well with each other, especially from the start.  Whenever you introduce your dog to any other dog, make sure you praise him or her and offer his favorite treat when he behaves well to reinforce that good behavior.   The constant rewards and reassurance of making ‘nice’ while meeting other pups will consistently reinforce the fact that making friends with other dogs is a great thing!

With time and patience, your dogs will invariably become great friends and happy comrades!



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