Owners can spend weeks and months agonizing over the decision to potentially share their home with two dogs, instead of one. There can be many reasons for wanting to do this, maybe you just love both breeds and need them both in your life. Maybe a friend of yours is unable to keep their dog, for whatever reason, and you want to help them out. Or, maybe you just love animals and you want to help out your local rescue center. Whatever the reason, you’re absolutely right to do your research. Not all dogs get along with other dogs.
The very worst thing that can happen is for you to jump into a decision, without doing due diligence and then, a few months down the road, you finally have to admit defeat and accept that the two dogs you were hoping would get on so famously, just don’t. Maybe there’s been aggression, maybe previously unseen possessive tendencies have come to the surface and the situation has become incompatible with your family and home.
This is a question that is quite common as these two breeds actually have a lot in common – but that doesn’t mean they will automatically get along…
Do Siberian Huskies get along with German Shepherds? There is no doubt whatsoever that a Siberian Husky can get along perfectly fine with a German Shepherd. They are both great dog breeds that can live happily with children in a family environment and be perfectly safe. There is a greater emphasis on the German Shepherd than the Husky to focus on a good socialization period as if it has not been bred correctly and this socialization has been missed, then it can be nervous around strangers. There is a little more to this though than you may think, read on…
What Do We Constitute ‘Getting Along’?
For the purpose of this article, I think it’s a good idea to clarify exactly what we mean when we’re talking about two different dogs getting along. I’m not saying that they need to cuddle up to each other whenever they are inside and I’m not saying at night they’re going to be found at the end of your bed snuggled up. It might actually be easier to communicate what we don’t want to see, there are only three main points that we need to consider at this point:
- Aggression – it’s an obvious one but if there’s any kind of aggressive tendencies between the two that continues over time, then it will most likely not work out. What you can’t have is a risk of any nasty behavior cropping up when you have visitors or children in your home.
- Possessive Personality – this trait can actually be linked to aggression (see above) and is usually seen when you approach them whilst they are eating when they will growl and warn you not to come any further. Or, you may see it when you get close to their toys or indeed any of their possessions (this including you). If you didn’t see this behavior before you had both the dogs but do after, it can be cause for concern.
- Sadness – some dogs like to be the center of attention and if you bring a new one into the home then it may cause problems with the mental state of the existing one. They may experience jealousy, or maybe a canine version of it that is similar to what we can experience.
Siberian Husky Personality
The personality of the Siberian Husky is a big reason why more and more families are being attracted to this breed of dog recently. Firstly, the Husky is gentle, at least typically. You have to make some generalizations when talking about a breed in a whole as there are always exceptions. However, these exceptions, when we’re talking about the Husky are fortunately few and far between.
The Husky is mischievous and boisterous and will want to know what you’re up to at all times. They love the company of humans (or other dogs) but aren’t very good when left on their own. Actually, the Husky is one of the worst dogs to have if you’re going to be away for long periods of time. It’s not fair for me to say that this is a bad thing, it’s just part of their personality.
The Husky can suffer from separation anxiety in a very short time and if you know from the outset that you’ll be leaving them alone for frequent, long periods of time, then this is not the dog for you. Separation anxiety can lead to a destructive temperament quickly and crating should be considered if you occasionally need to leave them alone for periods longer than about 30 minutes. If you’d like to know which crate you should get, do take a look here at my article – there are many choices and it’s important you get the right one!
The Siberian Husky is a dog that demands exercise…and a lot of it! We’ve already learned that if you’re going to need to leave them alone for long periods then this isn’t the dog for you. Well, if you can’t take them outside at least twice a day and for at least around an hour each time, then again – this dog is most likely not for you.
Remember, the Husky was bred to pull sleds for long periods of time and although for several generations this hasn’t been its main use, its requirement for long periods of exercise have not been bred out of its temperament. This desire to be outside and run is part of its foundation and forms an integral part of its personality – it must not be overlooked.
The Husky has a high prey drive. What this means is that if you are out with the Husky and it sees a small mammal (that it considers prey) then it will most likely try and run off after it. It is unlikely that you will be able to stop them from doing this and it is for this reason that the Husky should always be kept on a leash when taken outside. It is also for this reason that the Husky should not share a home with cats. Although many owners have reported long, happy relationships between Husky and feline, the risk is still there and you will never know if one day the Husky will suddenly decide that the cat needs to be chased. The result can be distressing for the family so careful consideration should be taken if this is a possibility.
The Husky does not make a good guard dog, mainly because it is not aggressive and possessive. This isn’t a bad thing as the subject matter isn’t related to this but worth mentioning. They can be stubborn though and without proper training when young you may have a lifetime of frustration trying to get them to do what you want but really this is such a small part of ownership it is hardly worth mentioning.
German Shepherd Personality
The German Shepherd is a different type of dog to the Siberian Husky, but not necessarily in a bad way. The Shepherd can be a great dog to have in your family as it is well known for being superb with children and other dogs. However, there is a greater emphasis on socialization with the German Shepherd than there is with the Siberian Husky. Without this initial introduction to other dogs or indeed if it has been brought up without children in its life, it can be a little wary of strangers.
So, it is important to know where your German Shepherd came from. If you purchase one that has been poorly bred then it can exhibit nervous traits, which isn’t great when you’re trying to introduce it to another dog. If you combine this with poor socialization (which you may not be aware of) you’re going to have your work cut out for you.
The German Shepherd is typically loyal and well known for being able to provide its service as a guard dog. Both these points are the opposite of how you’d describe the Husky. However, this doesn’t mean that they can’t get on – you just need to choose one that has been brought up correctly.
The Importance of Socialization
How well a dog will get on with another dog (and other people) is partly down to their natural instincts and obedience training. However, equally important is the process of socialization. The socialization of dogs is a process that should occur from the moment their puppy-paws cross the threshold of your home.
There is a very small window where this process can occur as, after this time, the advantages diminish rapidly. Between about 3 and 14 weeks after the puppy was born is the best time for this to occur. So, the first thing you might notice is that the start of this window is still during the time that they should be with their mother. Actually, a puppy shouldn’t be taken from her until around 8 weeks so assuming you get them at this point, it leaves you with just around 6 weeks to do this! There is literally no time to waste but what exactly do we mean by it?
The socialization of dogs involves introducing them to as many other dogs, other animals (particularly cats) and people (especially children) as you can during this time. Doing this will make it seem more ‘normal’ to it when they encounter different people and other animals later in life, it really stays with them during this time. So, as soon as you get them (either the Husky or the German Shepherd) invite as many people around as you can. I’m sure they won’t need much convincing to see the new puppy!
Socializing with cats can be a bit more tricky but what some people do is contact a cat rescue center and ask them if they would mind if you took your puppy there. It will be a controlled environment and your dog will be able to see (and smell) many cats all in one go!
Whatever you decide to do, do a lot of it! Remember, it’s only these first few weeks that really make a difference so don’t waste the opportunity. Of course, this might not apply to you if you get your puppies later in life but there’s no point dwelling on it. You can still perform this step but you just need to supervise a little more, especially with the cats and children!
How Do You Introduce Them To Each Other?
This is a difficult question to answer as there could be many different scenarios, for instance:
- You may be getting both dogs at the same time and they are both puppies. Or they could be both older or one older and one young.
- You may have had one dog (either the Husky or the German Shepherd) for some time and then decide to introduce the new dog.
You can see from the above that depending on what situation you’re in the process could be totally different. If introducing a new dog to a home where you already have one, then that existing dog could show signs of jealousy and anxiety. This is the most common route though, so let me share some tips to ensure this works out well for you:
- Don’t take your current dog with you when picking up your new dog! The last thing you need at this point is for their first introduction to be in the back of your car. This will be a pretty sure way of making sure they don’t get along!
- The first introduction should be in neutral surroundings, like a local field or park. Make sure both dogs are on a leash and allow them to sniff each other and do things that dogs do. If either shows any signs of aggression, stop the session. Keep things short and sweet though and provide nice treats if things went well.
- Make sure you remain calm during these initial introductory sessions. Your existing dog will be looking towards you during this time for reassurance and if they detect any anxiety or stress from you then it will only server to raise the anxiety levels in themselves.
- Don’t rush these sessions and do ensure you have a few of them before you first introduce them both at your home. Make sure that they are both comfortable and relaxed with each other before moving on to this stage.
- When you do bring them home, first keep them both on a leash and take the new dog around the home to allow them to sniff everything and just build up their confidence. If they seem okay about things then give them a reward but take it slow and remain relaxed.
- After this point, whilst keeping them both on a leash, introduce them both whilst in your home. Only remove the leash once you feel confident about how they will behave but ensure they are supervised initially.
The problem with all this though is that no two dogs are the same. We have to generalize but what I’ve found is that the above points work most of the time. They won’t work all the time though and this brings us nicely onto the next section.
What If They Aren’t Getting On?
Even with the best will in the world and as much patience as you can offer, sometimes it just doesn’t seem to work out, what then?
Dogs can be very territorial and although the Siberian Husky isn’t possessive, the German Shepherd can be. So, you need to make sure that it doesn’t try and make itself the alpha and dominate sections of the house. Remember, they don’t have to share everything at the start or indeed, going forward. Get them their own food dishes, bedding, and toys.
They need to know who’s running the shop and that would be you. A dog wants (and needs) someone to take control, otherwise, it will assume that position itself. You need to ensure that no aggressive tendencies are practiced by any dog and if you see this you need to correct the behavior by being firm and confident and providing clear instruction to the offending dog that this behavior is unacceptable.
Positive Reinforcement also works so when you see good behavior, make sure you reward it. Give them a treat when you see good interaction between them both, especially if it’s unusual. Getting a reward for such behavior (and you need to be consistent with this) will make them more likely to repeat this behavior. You will also need to act the same to both dogs so make sure you don’t show one dog more affection than the other!
The vast majority of the time you will succeed and I almost don’t want to talk about the alternative, which is of course to return one of them. Have patience, see a canine ethologist (basically a doggy psychiatrist) and persevere – make it work!
There is no doubt that the Siberian Husky and the German Shepherd can get on fine with no problems. You can make the process easier for you though by ensuring both the Husky and the German Shepherd has been properly socialized immediately after leaving their mother.
They are both great with children, can make the perfect family pet and can both be kept with other dogs. If you get the basics right and make sure you perform the initial introductions correctly, the chances are you’ll end up with two dogs that fit in perfectly with your family and your home.
If you’d like to know more about the Siberian Husky (seeing as this is a Husky site) then please check out my Complete Guide to the Siberian Husky, where you’ll find pretty much everything you ever wanted to know about this astonishing breed, plus some great images.