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When dogs don't get along

My Labrador retriever seems to like other dogs except the one who lives next door. They can't seem to get along. Is there anything that dog's owner and I can do to try and get the pups to play well together?

Just like humans, some dogs just don't like each other. They should, however, learn to coexist peacefully, either by ignoring each other or by exchanging pleasantries through the fence.

If the neighbor's dog is also generally sociable with other dogs, then it might be a territory or barrier issue. I recommend you essentially reboot the relationship and start fresh. 

First, take a structured walk with your neighbor and the dogs. The dogs should not interact on the walk. You are just walking side-by-side so the dogs get the sense they are part of the same pack. It's best not to allow the dogs to sniff, mark, or scout during the walk. Keep moving forward with the dogs walking politely next to their humans.  If the dogs seem calm and interested in each other, you can allow them to sniff briefly. Depending on how intense their reaction is, you may have to take several walks over a period of time.

Next, reintroduce the dogs on neutral territory. Find a secure fenced area where you can allow them to be off-leash together. The area should be large enough so the dogs can get away from each other if they are not interested in playing.  

Do not attempt these techniques if either dog has issues with a leash or reacts badly to being in a fenced area or is a resource guarder. In that case, I recommend seeking professional help.  You can find a professional trainer at http://www.canineprofessionals.com. 

This week's expert is Pauline Houliaras, certified professional trainer and behavior consultant with Doghouse Girls Inc. and president of B-More Dog. Send your pet questions to sun.unleashed@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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