Tips to Introduce a New Dog to Your Pet Family
2 December, 2014
If you are a dog owner that has just brought a new dog home, it can sometimes be a rough adjustment on your ‘home’ dog or even cat! After all, he or she has been getting all the attention for some time. However, some dogs adjust instantly and love the addition of a new dog and have no trouble at all, while others need some encouragement and training to do so. With a little love and effort, you can have a happy household of dogs and cats.
If you have the time, it is best to introduce your dogs’ away from home and let them get to know each other before coming home. That way, the introduction is not as jarring or a surprise. However, all the steps below can be accomplished in your home. This article will focus on dogs although the same idea can be applied to cats.
Start by having separate areas for your dogs
The best way to introduce new dogs to each other is slowly and with caution. As mentioned above, sometimes it will be love at first sight, while, at other times, it will be a sniffing party and a cautionary meet. Therefore, it is best to have separate areas for your dogs in case they don’t get along. You can use a dog gate to separate them, dog crates or put your dogs in separate rooms. And, make sure that they know, on command, when you say ‘stop’ or ‘leave’ that they will go to their separate areas.
Introduce your dogs in a neutral area where neither dog has been
If you can introduce your dogs in a spot that hasn’t been occupied by your first (home) dog, this is advantageous as it is common ground. You might need some help with this (another family friend or neighbor) and should always have both dogs on leashes. You can slowly bring them together and see how they respond to each other. If they seem antagonistic, give them a break and try again later. If they both react well with each other, praise them and give them treats.
Don’t force your home dog to protect their home area. If the dogs meet in a neutral location, they are less likely to view the other as an intruder. Start in a neutral zone such as a neighbor’s fenced in yard or enclosed park that your resident dog has not visited. Each dog should be on a reliable dog leash and handled by a separate person.
Positive Reinforcement always works best in introducing new dogs
You want your dogs to have positive experiences with each other right from the start. Let your dogs’ sniff each other and greet each other normally. Give them positive reinforcement through calm verbal affirmations. After letting them play for a while, put both dogs in a “sit” or “stay”, then let them interact again. Finally, take them on walks together, allowing them to sniff each other along the way. Give them both treats at the same time for good behavior.
Play close attention the both dog’s body posture as you introduce your dogs
Watch out for your dogs’ body posture that show a defensive response. Defensive body posture includes hair standing up the back, teeth-baring, deep growls, a stiff legged gait or a prolonged stare. If a dog goes into these postures, immediately switch into positive reinforcement mode and get your dog to follow your teachings. Let your dogs’ interact again, shorten the distance between the two.
Once your dogs’ seem to be tolerating each other, it’s time to bring them home (or in the same room). Let them run in together, establish their space and you might have to start over with the steps above.
Introducing a puppy to your current home dog or dogs
As we all know, puppies are adorable but they are also lots of work and energy (and a bundle of joy). Since puppies are still learning, they usually wind up bothering adult dogs to no end. Puppies simply have trouble recognizing that their actions are bothering adult dogs. Most adult dogs with good temperaments will growl or snarl at recklessly playful puppies in order to set boundaries of acceptable behavior. This is normal and is actually a positive thing. However, never allow a puppy and an adult dog to be left alone together, for the safety of both dogs. Also give your adult dog plenty of time away from the puppy, and try to give them some quality time alone with you and your family whenever time permits.
Always have separate dog bowls for your current dog and puppy. You might even want to feed them separately at the start so they each, especially the puppy, gets used to eating on his own. If you can put a divider up in the kitchen or feed them in separate rooms, it is a good way to start and eventually you can have them eating at the same time.
If you take the time to introduce a new dog to your home dog or cat, they will usually get along fabulously. Make sure that your home dog gets extra attention so he or she doesn’t feel like he is being replaced. And, if none of the above work and your dogs are not getting along, you should consider hiring a dog trainer.