You are here:

Canine Behavior/dog interaction


I have a large house dog, hound mix who kills the wildlife on our property chipmunks, squirrels,raccoons, skunks. My sister is bringing her Chihuahua over during the holidays how do we introduce the dogs so our dog doesn't take her dog as just another game animal?

Dogs are often quite good at recognizing their own species, even when there is a huge size disparity. Has he ever been to the dog park? Have you ever seen him (as an adult) interact with dogs smaller than himself? Has he ever played with very small dogs? It may be possible to do some parallel leash walking off property for a bit with some distance between the dogs (5-100 feet depending on the comfort/relaxation of the dogs), and then work up to being closer and closer until they're walking together. And then, based on the dog's reactions to each other, attempt a proper introduction that includes sniffing each other's bums/genitals, belly and face.

Reading canine body language can be tricky and if you're not 100% certain that you would know if your dog is about to attack, I would not risk parallel walking even at a distance, let alone introductions. And a dog who is about to attack is not usually the one who is barking their head off. The dog who is preparing to kill is silent and still, and so if you're not paying attention, you will miss it completely. Since your dog is a practiced killer of small animals, he is likely able to kill an animal with a single bite, without so much as a peep from the victim. It can happen literally in the blink of an eye.

Honestly, I would NOT introduce these dogs to each other. Your large hound mix has a known history of chasing down and killing small animals. Even if your dog has only killed one of each of the animals you've listed, that's a history of 4 separate incidents. Bringing a chihuahua into his space (on his property) is tempting fate to a level that I am simply not comfortable with, nor can I condone it. Perhaps if you could have a professional certified applied animal behaviorist or veterinary behaviorist (not just your average trainer) on hand to supervise the introduction - after first assessing your dog for likelihood of reaction to the little dog, I might be more comfortable. But, if your dog has zero experience with little dogs, or if he's had less than stellar encounters with small dogs, then I would not risk this.

Honestly, with the limited information you have provided, I don't see this going well. If your sister MUST bring her Chihuahua with her to your home for the holidays, I encourage her to keep her dog in a crate with an interesting long lasting chew in a spare room while your dog is out, and then put your dog in your bedroom with some awesome long lasting chew like a Kong that's loaded with food (see below for loading instructions).

I would rotate the dogs every 2 hours as to who is out (making sure there is potty access during their time out with the family, and I would simply not have any contact between the two dogs directly - putting your dog in your room before letting her dog out, and then returning her dog to her crate in a different room before letting your dog back out. The last thing we want over a family holiday weekend is a trauma or tragedy that could easily have been avoided.

Loading Kongs
In a bowl, create a mixture where 85% of the total is the dog's regular kibble, 5% of the mixture is interesting treats (which can include bits of human food such as cheese, chicken meat, hot dog, bacon, etc), and 10% of the mixture is a dog-safe soft binder that we use to hold it all together.

Binders can include: mashed potatoes (no garlic), apple sauce, BeechNut baby food, cream cheese, peanut butter, nonfat plain yogurt, cottage cheese, liverwurst, nonfat sour cream, or you can even just soak the kibble in a low sodium broth (chicken, beef or vegetable) until the kibble is soft and mushy.

If you're using a high fat option like liverwurst (a favorite among dogs), you should cut it with something lighter like cottage cheese or yogurt as very high fat foods can make some dogs quite ill).

Mix the kibble, treats and soft binder together and then stuff the Kong full. If the dog is open to it, you can freeze the Kong and it will take a really long time for the dog to clean it out. But not all dogs will take a frozen Kong. You can prepare it ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator until needed. This treat will take the dog anywhere from 5-45 minutes to clean out, depending on the skill of the dog. My dogs had Kongs for breakfast yesterday and it took them both about 30 minutes to finish (normally breakfast is consumed in 86-90 seconds - I timed them...).

If it's outside of a meal time, and so you don't wish to give a full Kong, you can just put a smear of one of the stickier binders (peanut butter, cream cheese, etc) along the inner walls of the Kong and stick just a few kibbles in there for him to work out.

I'm sorry I don't have an easy answer for this. The chihuahua will not be safe with your dog, and nobody wants to have that much stress added to the holidays. Even keeping them leashed on opposite sides of the room, or the chihuahua in your sister's arms, may increase the stress level for the dogs themselves,which isn't fair to them.

In this instance, I think pre-organized management to avoid any direct interaction is the safest and best option to assure a happy and safe holiday for all.

Please feel free to followup if I can be of further assistance. I hope you and your family (and the dogs) have a wonderful holiday weekend.

Canine Behavior

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Jody Epstein, CPDT- KA, APDT


IF YOU BELIEVE YOUR DOG IS ILL OR INJURED, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL VETERINARIAN IMMEDIATELY. THIS IS NOT THE FORUM TO ADDRESS URGENT MEDICAL ISSUES. I AM NOT A LICENSED VET AND HAVE NO DIAGNOSTIC SKILLS. ***I have been answering questions on All Experts for over 5 years now. I enjoy being able to offer assistance in this forum. I do need to be clear, though. If you’re looking for free advice about a specific behavior question, you MUST submit your question to me via All Experts. If you bypass All Experts and write to me directly through my website, I will ask you to submit via All Experts. On the flip side, if you’re local to Los Angeles and you wish to speak to me privately about an in person consultation, please go through my website. I appreciate your assistance in keeping my volunteer work on the volunteer site.*** I can answer questions about the following canine behavior issues: obedience, timid/fearful & fear-based aggression, nuisance behaviors, families that are expanding with either new human or new animal members. If you have potty training questions please first read my trio of blogs at If you still have questions after reading the blogs you can post your specific questions here. PLEASE be as specific as possible when asking a question. Give me a detailed example of the situation - dog's behavior, body language, circumstances surrounding the issue, what the consequences are (another dog's response, your response), etc. I can only provide insight if I can get a picture of the whole scenario. If I ask for further details, please provide them. In person I would normally observe for at least 90 minutes to assess the situation and the dynamics before offering tools and suggestions to modify it. In writing it is ever so much more difficult. Thank you for your participation in the process.


I have been professionally modifying behavior and training obedience for 7 years. I have owned dogs my entire life. I have just changed the name of my business. It is no longer Good Dog! Dog Training. The new name is Nutz About Mutz!. If you see previous questions with the Good Dog! website information, that is my response.

I am a Certified Profession Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA), #2133301 ; I am a member in good standing with the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), #77763 ; I am an AKC certified Canine Good Citizen evaluator (CGC), #71253

Publications ; ; Multiple articles in the local pet magazine Pet Press (found across Southern California)

I have a graduate education in animal behavior and learning. (While I completed my coursework and did the requisite research, I did not defend a dissertation. I am qualified, but not certified and so technically not a doctor. This is commonly referred to as Ph.D.-ABD which means All But Dissertation.) My educational focus was with non-human primates, but my personal interest is with domestic dogs and their relationships with humans and other animals. I continue to educate myself to canine-specific behavior through extensive reading, online interactive workshops, vidoes and attending canine behavior conferences.

©2016 All rights reserved.