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Introducing Your Dog to a New Dog

posted on Monday, January 22, 2018 in Pet Help

Introducing Dogs to DogsAdding another dog to your household can bring you and your current dog more fun and companionship. However, it’s important to realize that your current dog, might feel similar to how you might feel if your parents picked your friends and then told you to share your toys with them. In the long run, things will probably work out fabulously, but in the beginning it’s a very smart idea to take a few extra steps to make everyone feel good about the new arrangement. This article provides some guidelines for making smooth and safe introductions and ensuring that your dogs’ relationship gets off to a great start.

Maximizing the potential for a great relationship between your new dog and your current dog is a two-step process. It involves the actual introduction and then management of the new dog in your home. We’ll start with introductions and then give you guidelines for helping your dogs through the initial transition weeks of being together in your home.

Introductions

  • Leave your current dog at home when you pick up your new dog. One of the worst things you can do is to just throw the two of them together in your car and hope for the best!
  • Introduce your dogs on neutral territory, like on a short walk through your neighborhood, in a nearby park or in a friend’s yard. Have two people, one to handle each dog, while keeping the dogs on leashes.
  • To minimize tension, try to keep the dogs’ leashes loose so that they’re not choking or feeling pressure on their throats.
  • Don’t force any interaction between the dogs. If the dogs ignore each other at first, or if one dog seems reluctant to interact with the other, that’s okay. Give both dogs time to get comfortable. They’ll interact when they’re ready.
  • Make the introduction positive and light-hearted. As the dogs sniff and get acquainted, encourage them in a happy tone of voice. At first, allow just a few seconds of sniffing. Then gently pull the dogs away from each other and let them walk around with their handlers. After a minute or two, you can lead the dogs back together and allow another several seconds of sniffing. These brief greetings help keep the dogs’ interactions calm and prevent escalation to threats or aggression. You can also interrupt their interactions with simple obedience. After a brief sniff, lead the dogs apart, ask them to sit or lie down, and then reward them with treats.
  • Closely observe the dogs’ body language. Their postures can help you understand what they’re feeling and whether things are going well or not. Loose body movements and muscles, relaxed open mouths, and play bows (when a dog puts his elbows on the ground and his hind end in the air) are all good signs that the two dogs feel comfortable. Stiff, slow body movements, tensed mouths or teeth-baring, growls and prolonged staring are all Introducing Your Dog to a New Dog signs that a dog feels threatened or aggressive. If you see this type of body language, quickly lead the dogs apart to give them more distance from each other. Again, practice simple obedience with them individually for treats, and then let them interact again—but this time more briefly.
  • Once the dogs’ greeting behaviors have tapered off and they appear to be tolerating each other without fearful or threatening behavior, you’re ready to take them home. Before you take them inside, walk them together around your house or apartment building.
  • Be patient. Bringing a new dog home requires that everyone make some adjustments, especially your current pets. And it will take time for your dogs to build a comfortable relationship.