Introducing a new dog to a Hokkaido household.

Hey Everyone,

Long time since I have posted, but hope all is well with everyone. Yume, my female Hokkaido is about to turn 6! (time flies!!!). She is an import from Hokkaido and is extremely prey driven and very dog reactive. We are very careful with her and basically just keep her away from most other dogs. For example, if I let her into a dog park I know she will start a fight so we just avoid dog parks.

I am hoping some of you might have some similar issues and wonder what you think about bringing another dog into the house. I am sure it will be challenging, but will two dogs learn to get along before they will kill each other??
Has anyone tried this?

Looking forward any input.



  • It honestly depends on the individual dogs. My boys Ghidora and Batora hated each other, even though they were both good (as far as Akita go) with other dogs when introduced properly or at a distance at dog shows. KG even helped raise a male puppy from my last litter and he was fine with him. Introducing as a puppy definitely helps I think.

    You may end up in a situation where you have to manage and separate for the rest of the dogs' life. That is true of ANY new dogs of any breed or level of reactiveness. If you are prepared and accepting of that possibility, I think you can move forward with adding another dog... but if not, don't do it.

    As far as the introductions go, there is NO harm in going incredibly slow and plenty of harm in rushing too quickly. There is no timetable for when your dog's "have to" get along. Accept that and don't push. We generally do introductions over a period of MONTHS and do separation/management and very close supervision with limited interaction.
  • I was really impressed with how @WrylyBrindle handled adding her new Kai a year or so ago. Maybe she can explain her process.
  • Thanks for the comments. Having to keep the dogs separate would definitely not be ideal. We are thinking of getting a trainer the specializes in reactive dogs to give us some tips and see how Yume will react to an other dog in the house. If we utterly fail with this we will probably give up on the idea, if it works we probably move forward and hope for the best.

    I will look into WrylyBrindles old posts.

    Thanks again
  • As far as the introductions go, there is NO harm in going incredibly slow and plenty of harm in rushing too quickly. There is no timetable for when your dog's "have to" get along. Accept that and don't push. We generally do introductions over a period of MONTHS and do separation/management and very close supervision with limited interaction.
    Yes, we are on YEARS of introduction with our first dog, Kouda, and #2 and #3. Interactions are based on his receptiveness, and that appears limited to a bubble of space around him and baby gates in the house. He lets his guard down outside and sometimes likes to play with the siblings - especially in the snow or at the beach.

    But as for adding a second, it's usually good to go with a puppy of the opposite gender. If the first dog is more difficult, it can be helpful to choose a more easy-going pup to hopefully minimize confrontations.

    Do you have a breed picked out?
  • We are thinking Akita.
  • edited January 2019
    I hardly ever post as my wife and I are new to this breed but I thought I would weigh in here as we recently added a female Hokkaido into our household. She is currently 8 months old (still very much a puppy). This is a lengthy post (sorry!)

    We have been taking a very gradual approach with introducing her to our other dog, a 7 year old male Maltese. We are a bit fortunate in that she is naturally very submissive. We brought her home when she was 3 months old and immediately began socializing her with other dogs and people. We ate out and brought her with us. We walked her in areas with lots of people. In the last month we introduced her to dog parks (she loves them and gets along great with all of the other dogs!).

    Right from the get go we made sure she has at least one walk everyday for 30-60 minutes. The walk really helps take care of much of the nervous puppy energy and it has been good bonding time for us. We set up play dates with our other dog and initially did not let them play more than 5-10 minutes or so and they were always supervised. Gradually over the next few months we increased the time from 10 minutes to about 30 minutes (where it currently is).

    The bad news first: They get along about 95% of the time but there are the occasional fights! He occasionally bites her and that almost always triggers a fight. There have been cuts and scratches. We've learned that a fight can break out almost out of nowhere. To break them up I keep a can of compressed air nearby that I unload in their faces and that always does the trick. We learned early on that she resource guards toys (though oddly enough not water or food). So we eliminated toys from the equation.

    The good news: The fights have become less frequent! They still occasionally occur, however the time in between these altercations has become less frequent. We have also gotten better (though not perfect) at predicting when one might occur and avoiding the situation or diffusing it. The longest they have gone without a spat is now 4 weeks (that streak came to an end over the weekend). They generally do like each other and whine when separated. They pretty much only occur when we let our guard down otherwise there haven't been any with our guard up for at least 3 months now.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that I agree with the others here who have stated introduction can be a problem with any breed. Some dogs do not like other dogs (regardless of breed) and might not get along with another animal in the home. That is hard to predict. In our case our Hokkaido has been mostly submissive (except with toys) while our older Maltese (who is otherwise extremely well behaved) instigates most of the issues. We have learned to manage them and it is getting better over time but we also realize they may never get along perfectly. If they do that would be great but we aren't pushing a timeline.

    It is a long path that we are on and we are constantly working it. If I had to summarize the process we have implemented it would go like this:

    1. Walk each dog daily! (I can't emphasize this enough)
    2. Walk the dogs together (if possible). We do this every other day.
    3. Setup play dates! We started by setting them up outside (neutral territory). They have only had 1 spat ever outside! We then transitioned inside with very short play dates.
    4. When not on play dates we keep them separate. This separation has reduced over time.
    5. Train them together at the same time. My wife and I take a dog each. We have them apart at a distance then we do some training (sit, down, stay, etc.). We take turns petting each other's dog to show there is no favoritism or animus. We were given this idea by a dog trainer friend and it has worked pretty well!
    6. Wash, rinse, repeat!

    It really is a long term commitment. We don't know if we will ever trust them together unsupervised because there is a big size difference between our two dogs and we don't want serious injuries. Our goal is to get them to a point where they won't fight in front of us and we will keep them separate when we aren't around.

    If you have any specific questions feel free to reach out or ask. We aren't experts but we also aren't shy to ask people for help or share what we have learned.
  • edited January 2019
    I absolutely would NOT get an Akita with a reactive Hokkaido (or any reactive dog). I have a dog-friendly Hokkaido and even so I worry and manage her around the Akitas due to her play style. Hokkaido play and vocalizations are very likely to not be tolerated by Akita. I have only one girl who enjoys playing with her. I never trust my Hokka around strange Akita (eg. when we meet up at dog shows) because if she gets in their face or they think she is challenging them they will NOT back down. Akita may not start fights but they do finish them. If your dog is not playful and actually IS reactive and going after the Akita, you are guaranteed to have trouble constantly. I would hazard frequent vet visits as well, if not worse.
  • edited January 2019
    I think Claire's post is spot on and complete. They say what I'd take a lot more words and flourishes to say. Read it three times and take it to heart.

    I had a reactive dog for over 12 years, and I did separation/rotation of my males for over five years so that I could have the dogs I wanted to have, and I will not do that again. It ate me up and left me with very little to give to everything else in life. It affects your whole household, too.

    There is lots written about how to introduce a new puppy to your adult dog, and you can do it all right- I didn't do anything magical, its just like Claire said, slow and with attention and awareness- and it comes back to the individual dogs and then who they are at maturity, which you don't truly know till it arrives. Or when there's a shakeup in the household- how that will re-set things. At best, if you have resilient, agreeable dogs and a shared expectation of How We Do Things, then the beat just goes on, but if any dog has social idiosyncrasies then it is a risk to fuss with the applecart and any addition must be done with greater than usual aforethought.

    I brought puppies in with Sage because I already knew he at least got along with our older female, and had had two female dog friends, and I knew he was sweet with puppies and small dogs from back in the early days when he was more social. These silly little Kai girls would never be any threat to him. Plus by the time we got Tamaki (most recent addition) Sage was already used to being rotated so he was never overwhelmed on puppy craziness and enjoyed his shifts with the girls.

    They boys introduced well and got along well until my younger guy hit his "teens," then Sage ripped him up one day when they were both under my desk. They were separated the rest of the old fellow's life. He was dear to me and I could not have re-homed him due to his reactivity and all the deep work we put into understanding each other over the years already. And my younger guy is a really wonderful dog that I didn't want to give up, either. So I chose gate/crate/rotate.

    Also different people have different expectations- I like my dogs to live free in the house all together, go places with me, walking on and off leash, and ride in the backseat of my car easy. I don't want to own any kind of dog more than I desire harmony. But some people from the get-go don't expect their combos of dogs to get along, and they have lots of infrastructure to support them and don't mind gate/crate/rotate which enables them to have the dream dogs they want.

    I have made both choices: to keep and manage, and to re-home a wonderful dog that I love. If Yume is happy at home, I'd not take the risk and just make her life awesome and not more complicated <3
  • Thanks for all the feedback. It seems this might not work out after all, but we are going to do a few sessions with the trainer just to see what happens. Yume was great with dogs until she was about 1. The thing is at around the same time there was an incident with a coyote where Yume was bitten. Since this time she has hated visiting the Vet and doesn't usually get along with other dogs. So, I am not sure if she is "naturally?" reactive or reactive because of the incident.

    Anyway, if she fails miserably with the training we will have to just give up on the idea. If she does really well, I guess we will have to see. We definitely won't go ahead with another dog if we don't think she can get along. It would be way too much trouble.

    Thanks again for the help!
  • edited February 2019
    Late to this, but I thought I would briefly add my experience. Meitou is dog reactive and has been since about 11 months old. I took him to several reactivity classes at a place that specializes I'm dog and human reactive dogs. Those classes helped me a ton. Interestingly Meitou was often our teacher dog for new dogs in class to learn how certain activities were done because even though other dogs lunged at him Meitou didn't react to class dogs. He also would go on hikes with other dogs (on leash) and handled that well. Once he's walked or hiked with a dog enough he seems to be comfortable enough for "friendship."

    After a while my married sister and her husband moved in with me and they ended up getting two Chihuahuas kind of out of the blue. First a female and then a male a couple months later. We did a little separation, but when I wasn't home people just kind of threw them together and Meitou actually really liked both chihuahuas. He would handicap himself to play with them. As long as we didn't leave chewies out Meitou was fine (he also resource guards some stuff).

    Eventually they moved out and I decided to get a second dog. I met an Icelandic Sheepdog breeder who had owned Akita in the past. I talked with her a lot and explained Meitou and his behaviors and all the work we had been doing. She was willing to work with me to get a puppy that would fit with Meitou. I had been intending to get a female, but when the next litter was born (from two dogs I had met and liked) there were only males in the litter. So I got a male instead, picked by the breeder. And so I got Jötunn and ended up with two intact make dogs. Jot what I expected.

    There was A LOT of separation, rotation, and very yummy food involved in the beginning. Weeks and weeks and months. And a few very highly supervised meets in the backyard. But I already knew Meitou had done well integrating with previous dogs, and he has done well with Jötunn. It hasn't been 100% perfect and in cartoon situations they are separated (like dinner and chewy time) just to be safe. But they're pretty good friends, though I think Jötunn likes Meitou better than Meitou likes Jötunn.
  • I'm even later to this, but I thought I'd share how I handle this with Rakka, who is quite ornery to all other animals. BUT Rakka is very good at compartmentalizing. She's been part of a busy, multi-species family her entire life and she's very sensitive and intelligent, so she has a strict etiquette, if you will, with other beings.

    A long time ago, Rakka met a donkey she wanted to kill (and he wanted to kill her, too, because he'd been trained to protect calves from coyotes). I can't remember why exactly, I just got the idea that they might get along if I took them on a walk together. In hindsight, I should've had someone help me do this, but I had both of them on leads and there was this moment when I was opening the gate when they both looked at each other and looked at me. I think they were a little stunned by how peculiar the situation was, so I took advantage of that moment and promptly lead them on a walk before they could decide what to do. If they started looking sideways at each other, I'd pick up the pace a little to divert their attention back to walking. Rakka and Melvin were best friends after that. Seriously, I was shocked, because I'd just been hoping they wouldn't hurt each other. They'd groom each other, eat grass together, and Rakka would sleep on his back.

    Now when I introduce Rakka to a new dog, I do it gradually, but in a different way. I'll have her not able to see, hear, or interact with the other dog at all unless we're leashed, on a walk, too busy moving forward to quarrel. I found that being able to see the strange dog in her home without interacting just gave her barrier frustration and built up the tension of anticipation rather than desensitizing her. Walking in the same direction: I swear, it's like hypnosis, haha. I think it works by re-compartmentalizing the other dog in Rakka's mind, because she hasn't gotten less dog-aggressive overall, but she has gotten better at accepting new dogs at home. It seems more like flipping a switch for that particular dog rather than gradually turning down the volume on dog aggression. I also have theories about the different senses. Movement/sight puts dogs into hunt mode, and dogs within a social group are usually near, but not looking at each other. So dogs who are looking at each other through a barrier, but not interacting, are more likely to be in prey mode versus dogs who are interacting in a peripheral way, but focused outward, having parallel interest, rather than focusing on each other.

    I think the big trouble comes in when a dog doesn't have a category for "dogs I don't want to kill" or they just have a really sticky switch. As I said, Rakka's been in a changing, multi-species household for a long time, so she knows the drill. Maybe Yume needs a friend-dog category? I haven't tried this yet, but I was thinking maybe next time I need to introduce Rakka to a dog, I'd get someone to help me and we'd walk both of them in the same direction, but on opposite side of a road (traffic-free, obviously), then gradually get closer, moving farther away any time the dogs look sideways at each other and closer the more relaxed they are. Maybe if you had some very stable and resilient volunteer dogs to teach Yume that there's such a thing as a friend-dog, it'd be easier to introduce her to whatever dog you want to get.

    These are all just my experiences and opinions of course, but maybe there's something useful in there. Sorry it's so long, I'm too lazy to edit...
  • Oh hey, maybe a good way to exercise two reactive dogs together would be with a bike --- safely with a bike leash, of course. I have a bike leash attachment that lets me have one Walky Dog type bike leash on either side. When Rakka and Sosuke were younger, I'd bike them both, and they couldn't knock me over even if they both tried to take off after the same squirrel. So, yeah, maybe running alongside another dog without being able to reach that dog would be good for Yume? Or other reactive dogs?
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