Do dogs of different sexes get along better?
Humans and dogs operate with different social rules. While it’s nice to think of a household consisting of both dogs and humans as one big happy family where everyone gets along, a two dog family could fail to live up to this standard, regardless of whether there are two males, two females, or one of each. At their core, dogs are pack animals with a natural instinct towards following a strict social hierarchy. Any new dog in the family is a source of competition for resources such as food, affection from humans, and social standing. When we bring a new dog into this dynamic, we have to be a little careful to avoid disrupting the pack too much at once. The main issue we are trying to avoid is causing any aggression between the two dogs.
Aggression Between Dogs
Aggression can occur between dogs of different sexes, just as it can with dogs sharing the same gender – it’s the level of dominance which can have the greatest effect on dogs’ fighting and being aggressive towards one another. It’s the humans who establish the hierarchy in the household so the goal is to create harmony by avoiding putting both dogs on the same level. Even two submissive type animals can start fighting if humans allow the “pack” to become unstable, and the dogs sense a leadership vacuum.
All humans in the household should be regarded by the dogs as the boss so it’s important that every family member knows the correct way to deal with them. In this way the dogs always know where they stand in the social hierarchy of the household, with both dogs knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are not on equal footing with any of the people in the home. Any signs of behaviour indicating a show of dominance should be immediately dealt with, such as growling at a person if they try to remove a dog’s food or bone.
Dogs Want a Pack Structure
Dogs naturally understand that each dog has a rank in the pack, so dogs that believe that they are equal will inevitably vie to out rank the other dog. It is key to treat one dog (usually the older more established dog) as the favourite and slightly more important and to let both dogs see and understand this. This treatment is not meant to be harsh or cruel, but a way to establish order in your home and peace between the two dogs. It means little things like feeding the alpha dog first, patting them first when you get home, entering the car first etc.
Although alpha type dogs and submissive dogs occur in every breed and every litter – and both male or female dogs, two entire males will generally have more issues. Desexing your dogs will greatly reduce the level of aggression in dogs living in the same home, as desexed dogs don’t really care if the other dogs they live with are boys or girls.
Is a Puppy Easier to Introduce?
The age that the two dogs come into your home will usually make the biggest difference as to how well they get along. 2 Puppies of either sex (that are later desexed) brought home together is the best option as their position in the pack will have already been worked out to a great extent. A puppy introduced to an older and established dog will be just as easy to fit into your pack as siblings at the same time. Bringing home an older dog, is the hardest as the new dog will already have some idea of where they THINK they should be in the pack. Unfortunately, some owners allow their dog to be dominant over some or all of the people in the home, giving the dog the idea that they can push their weight around. These dogs can be a biting risk to a new owner if their previous owner has allowed this behaviour.
Whether you get two females, two males, or one of each, with the right behaviour and training, all the dogs of the household will have no trouble figuring out their place in the scheme of things, so everyone can get along. Show them who’s boss and ensure every family member knows the correct way to deal with the dogs. Consistency is perhaps the biggest key to preventing any confusion amongst the animals and keeping a nice and peaceful home.
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