How to Introduce Your Dog to New Family Members (Part 2) - Doggy Brace

How to Introduce Your Dog to New Family Members (Part 2!)

introducing dogs to birds

Here it is, part 2! In part one, we went over introducing your dog to cats and smaller animals, such as rats, ferrets, and more. In part two, we’ll go over introducing your dog to birds and other dogs! In part three, we’ll talk about introducing your dog to babies and kids! 

Introducing Your Dog to Birds

Before we jump into this, know that if your dog likes to hunt birds outside or chase them, then your dog is likely to never get along with a pet bird. They will likely fixate on their cage and might attempt to get to them when unsupervised. If this is the case, do not introduce your dogs to birds, for everyone’s safety. We also do not recommend introducing birds to dogs in the sporting group, as many of them were bred to hunt waterfowl. 

However if your dog is indifferent to birds or doesn’t see them as prey or a toy, then they could be great friends. 

Here’s what we recommend when introducing dogs to birds.

Choose a Neutral Area

We don’t mean take your bird and dog to a park — we mean choose a room in your house that doesn’t have your bird’s cage and that your dog doesn’t spend a lot of time in (don’t choose the room they sleep in or eat in). This way, both animals will be less territorial and more open to saying hello to one another. 

Watch their body language. An irritated bird will fluff its feathers, click its beak, move a lot, and generally keep its distance. Our dog may growl or whine, or adopt a stiff/hunting stance if they get fixated on the bird. If this happens, remove your dog from the room and put the bird back into its cage. Keep them both separated until they’re calm enough to try again.

Never allow the dog to stare into the birdcage during the introduction phase. This will agitate the bird and it may give your dog the wrong idea about the bird too. Birds are friends, not toys! 

Always Supervise

We never recommend letting your bird out unsupervised and we don’t recommend letting your dog meet any new animal unsupervised either. This is for both of their safety. 

If, after a few on-leash sessions, your dog is calm around the bird, then you can try off-leash, but be close by. Accidents can always happen and you need to be ready to assist your dog or bird if they do. 

Mistakes to Avoid

To avoid problems and get the two pets off on the right foot, steer clear of three common missteps when introducing your dog to a bird:

  • Do not have either animal loose in the room during your pets’ meeting. 
  • Make sure your bird is in an appropriately sized birdcage and that the door is always secure. 
  • Place your bird’s cage in a spot where your dog will not be able to jump up and reach it.

Introducing Your Dog to Dogs

Same species = better chance of getting along, right? Not necessarily. The new dog is still a stranger and strangers can be scary or threatening, no matter if they’re the same size or breed. Here’s what we recommend to introduce your dog to another dog. 

Introduce Them on Neutral Territory.

It’s best to let dogs become familiar with each other on neutral territory such as outdoors, in a park, or at a trainer’s. 

Both dogs should be on a leash and each handler should have treats and be confident in handling their dog. 

To start, walk both dogs at a distance. They should not be near each other to help determine how they react to another animal around them. If they’re both calm or excited in a friendly way, you can move closer. Give them treats while doing so they know they’re showing the right response. 

If they’re aggressive or barking at each other, give it some time. Refocus your dog on a toy or a command and then give them a treat when they’re successfully refocused. 

Pay Attention To Their Body Language.

Your dog will let you know if they are comfortable or not through their body language. More specifically, thought their tail, stance, vocalizations, and ears. 

An upset or scared dog will have all of the following: 

  • Hairs standing up on their back
  • Growling/barking
  • Stiff legs
  • Tail between their legs
  • Prolonged/fixated stare
  • Ears forward or bent back

If this happens, calmly interrupt your dog’s reaction and refocus them. 

If the dogs seem relaxed and comfortable (tail wagging, no stiffens, ears relaxed), you can shorten the distance between them. Again, offer treats to the dogs any time they look at each other in a relaxed manner.

Let the Dogs Set the Pace

Don’t try to rush something and don’t try to slow something down. If the dogs do/do not want to meet, they will let you know. They could be excited and get frustrated at your slow pace, or uncomfortable and not ready to interact with the other dog yet. Letting them set the pace (to a reasonable extent) will help negate that. 

Above all, do not force dogs to interact with anything they don’t want to interact with. A comfortable dog is a happy dog and a happy dog is one that makes the best first impression.