How to Introduce a New Dog to Your Dog(s) at Home
5 August, 2014

When you are bringing home a newly adopted dog to your family that already has a dog as a member, this can be a fun, exciting and joyous adventure. Sometimes the dogs get along seamlessly from the start. But, other times your current dog child might feel a bit neglected and not that welcoming. It’s not that surprising. If a roommate was chosen for you by your parents, you might be a little rebellious at first and not want to share your toys.

Below are some tips to help with the introductions and ease the transition.

Leave your current dog at home when you adopt your new dog

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. Let the new dog get used to you for a little bit.

Make sure to introduce your dogs on neutral territory

Introduce your dogs on neutral territory, like on a short walk through your neighborhood or in a friend’s yard. Have two people there when making the introductions…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.

Let the dogs decide the time line

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 and on their own terms.

Make the introduction positive and easy-going

As the dogs sniff and get acquainted, encourage them in a happy, upbeat 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 leashes still on them). After a minute or two, you can lead the dogs back together and allow a second round of sniffing. These brief greetings help keep the dogs’ interactions calm and prevent potential threats of aggression. After a brief sniff, lead the dogs apart, ask them to sit or lie down, and then reward them with treat and a rub down!

Make sure to watch the dogs’ body language

Your dog’s body language can help you understand what they’re feeling and whether things are going well or not when they are being introduced. 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 signs that one of your dogs’ feels threatened or aggressive. If you see this type of body language, quickly separate the dogs apart to give them more distance from each other.

Once the dogs’ greeting behaviors and introductions 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 as it can take some time

Bringing a new dog home requires that everyone make some adjustments, especially your current dog or dogs. And it will take time for your dogs to build a comfortable relationship. If they don’t get along in your home, have them separated in two different rooms and gradually bring them together with the same steps as above. Let them sniff each other, get to know each other’s personality and soon they will be good friends and family members.

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