Congratulations on bringing a new dog into your family! You must be so excited for your dog to have a new playmate and you want to make sure they get along.
When there is already a dog in a home introducing a second one can get a bit tricky. It’s important not to throw two dogs together and expect they will automatically be best friends. In the wild, dogs live in “packs” and they decide who will be the alpha or dominant dog, and they determine the pecking order for the pack. If you do not establish the hierarchy in your home the dog will do it for you. This is a bad thing and will usually lead to aggressive behaviors in your dogs.
Below are some tips for a smooth transition/integration into your home:
Bringing the New Dog Home
Start by putting your current dog in a bedroom (not a crate), and let the new dog move around the home and backyard freely. The new dog will know another dog lives there just from smelling around. This begins the introduction process. Give the new dog about 45 minutes to an hour to figure things out and calm down some from the drive and coming into a new home.
After the exploration time is over, put the new dog in his crate in a spot where, although he may not be in the middle of the room, he’s part of the activities with the family. Then let your other dog out of the bedroom. Have him in a training collar and leash. The new dog will begin to figure out the social dynamics of your family and will pick up on a lot just by watching through the crate. The dogs should be able to meet through the crate. If both dogs are relaxed and not exhibiting any dominate behavior, praise both dogs.
Leave the new dog in the crate for the rest of that day and the next before introducing them outside the crate. It is likely that once you introduce them, much of the tension will be gone as they really aren’t that new to one another. When you do introduce them outside the crate, have them both on chain collars and leashes (loose again) until you are sure they will be okay.
Always, always feed your new dog separately from your current dog. It’s best to feed your new dog in a crate and in a separate room from your current dog. Many of the dogs in rescue have been on the street and have had to fight for food in the past. Most of them will get past this with time and after they befriend your other dog.
The separation of food extends to bones, rawhides, and sometimes even toys. Let the dogs get to know one another before expecting them to be able to share these types of things. These items can be integrated into the mix within a month or longer so be not sure to pick up their toys and don’t leave them lying around.
Go for a Walk
Before rushing to introduce both dogs, even if they have initially met away from home, start by taking both dogs out for a relaxing stroll together. Walking accomplishes a number of positive steps including:
- stress release for a dog coming into a new home,
- physical and mental stimulation for everyone (dog and human),
- an opportunity for a potty break to set good habits for the new pooch, and
- a pack building and trust forming exercise for the dogs.
Walking gives the dogs a chance to share space and learn about one another without the stimulation and uncertainty of direct interaction and contact.
Begin the walk with the dogs not close enough to touch. They will be able to see and smell each other without actually making contact. Start off on a nice, neutral walk and make sure to go around your neighborhood so the new dog can learn about where it lives and how to find their its way home should he or she ever get out accidentally. Deciding when to allow the dogs to come together to formally meet and have contact with one another will vary in each situation.
Hopefully, everyone will experience a smooth transition and you’ll soon be one big happy family!