ThinkstockWhen we decided to add a second dog to our family, my husband and I deliberated endlessly. I'd always wanted a small dog. He felt like our current big dog needed another big dog buddy. We constantly went back and forth, and at the core of Michael's argument was this: How would Gunner possibly play with a tiny little puffball?
Well, as many of you know, I won that argument, and we ended up with a Pomeranian named Ike (who the hubby adores, by the way). And since the day we brought him home, we've never had an issue with the way that they play.
Granted, Gunner is a pretty gentle dog. And he'd usually rather hover by the food bowl than scrap with other pups, but every once in a while he and Ike get rough and tumble - and it doesn't take a genius to see that a little dog and a big dog can get along just fine. They wrestle, roughhouse and chew on each other's ears for hours. And even with all the rolling, running and chasing their play never gets out of hand.
Ensuring your dog gets along with a new pet - or even just a new friend at the dog park - isn't always that seamless, but there are there are a few ways to facilitate a smooth interaction. Just follow these simple rules from the Humane Society of America:
Choose a neutral location. Resident dogs are less likely to view newcomers as intruders on neutral territory.
Use positive reinforcement. Talk to the dogs in a happy, friendly tone. Let them sniff and investigate each other at intervals. And when it goes well, reward them with a treat (separately, of course).
Be aware of body posture. The Humane Society says that a "play bow" is a good sign. Watch to see if one dog crouches down with his hind in the air. This is typically an invitation to play. And it's a good sign.
Take the pups home. After the initial introduction, and after any fearful or aggressive responses have subsided, bring the dogs back to their home and let them interact on mutual territory, where they can start to establish their own rank.
If you have any problems, consult an animal behaviorist, and be sure that you don't leave the dogs alone or unattended. A little patience can go a long way too.
How do your big dog and little dog get along? Share your stories in the comments below.