Many dog families share a wonderful experience with their dog and want to make it even better. One way that they often consider is bringing a second dog into the fold. While adding a new dog to your family can bring extra fun and companionship, it can sometimes create stress for your resident pets. Introducing a new dog into your current household of pets can be a challenge if proper measures aren’t taken from the outset.
Actions you should take and things you should consider to make sure it is a great and successful experience are:
Dog to Dog
- Before you bring the new dog home, bring home his scent so your resident pets can be introduced to his smell first. Rub the new dog with a cloth (or use a blanket he has slept on), then bring it into your home and place it where the dog will be sleeping.
- In addition, be sure both your resident dog and the new dog are current on their vaccinations to avoid any risk of cross-infection.
Introduce in a Neutral Location
- Introduce the dogs in a neutral place that is unfamiliar to both dogs, such as a park. This prevents your resident dog from feeling his territory is being threatened.
- You’ll need two handlers, each loosely holding a dog on six-foot leashes. “Stay relaxed and upbeat so the dogs don’t pick up on any tension you might be feeling,” said Edwards.
- Don’t force an interaction between the dogs. Just walk near each other for a few minutes. One or both of the dogs may ignore each other, which is fine. Remain positive and give the dogs time to get comfortable with the situation.
General Tips for Next Steps
- Proceed slowly and calmly. Slow-paced introductions may help prevent development of any fear-based or aggressive reactions. If bad behaviors are not reined in from the start, they can become habit and be very hard to change in the future.
- Set reasonable goals for all the dogs. Knowing each dog’s background as to how well they were socialized will help you manage what might happen. Remember and respect that your resident dog and/or cat may perceive the new dog to be encroaching on their established territory, which can be very stressful.
- If you have more than one resident dog, introduce each dog one at a time to the new dog to prevent them from overwhelming the newcomer.
- Stay in control of the introduction. If you are not sure how your pets will react, take the necessary precautions to keep them (and you) safe.
- Never leave new pets unattended, even if a pet is caged. When two pets meet, it is vital that you watch them at all times. The situation can change suddenly.
- Be patient and adaptable. You will need to teach your new dog to trust you while helping your resident pets know that you will continue to keep them safe. Building good relationships takes time.
Also remember that some dogs “just don’t like each other”. If this is the case, forcing them together will only cause aggression and endanger the dogs and your family.
We also have a handout if you would like to distribute this information or display it for others to read. You can get it at Great Dog Training Tips.