Approximately forty percent of households with dogs in the United States house more than one dog. This statistic may lead you to believe that introducing a new dog into the household is a simple matter. However, it may not always be as simple as you think. You see, dogs, just like us, have their own distinct personalities and you do not always know how two dogs will get along. In addition to this, resident dogs may perceive the new dog as encroaching on their territory. Therefore, introductions should happen slowly, calmly, and cautiously.
How to Introduce the New Dog to the Pack
First and most importantly, if you have more than one resident dog, introducing them one at a time to the new dog is important. If you introduce the new dog to the entire pack at once, the new dog may become overwhelmed and fearful. An overwhelmed and fearful dog could become an aggressive dog. The very first interaction between dogs will set the tone for future interactions so it is important the initial interactions go well. You know your dogs better than anyone so choose to introduce the most relaxed dog to the new dog first. The best way to introduce them is by walking them separately outside the home. Grab your spouse, another family member, or a friend (preferably someone your dog knows well) and have them walk your resident dog on a lead while you walk the new dog on a lead. You should walk far enough away that the two dogs are not tempted to interact but are aware of the other’s presence. If they are relaxed and behaving in the manner you want them to behave (not trying to get to the other), be sure to reward them with treats and/or praise. Walk them like this for a good thirty minutes. If the walk goes well, you may let them sniff each other briefly. While they are sniffing each other, watch their body language for signs of relaxed verses agitated behaviors. To learn more about your dog’s body language, read this post: https://thefrenchiemamablog.com/2021/02/14/dog-body-language-and-why-your-frenchie-may-not-get-along-with-other-breeds/
It is important to put a stop to bad behaviors in the beginning. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to stop the unwanted behaviors.
Bringing the New Dog Inside the Home
Once you have completed all the introductions outside of the home and it is time to bring the new dog into the home, be sure you have prepped the house first. The most important aspect of prepping the house is making sure there are no toys, food, or bones laying around the house. If these items are left on the ground, it could lead to a resource guarding issue. To learn more about resource guarding (food aggression in particular), read this post: https://thefrenchiemamablog.com/2020/09/12/canine-food-aggression/
If possible, it is a good idea to bring the new dog’s scent into the house a few days before bringing him or her home. Grabbing a blanket and rubbing it on the new dog, then bringing it home for the resident dogs to sniff is a good way to do this. Once you have the house prepped, bring the new dog inside and introduce them again one dog at a time. Let them repeat brief sniffing sessions while on loose leads and reward for good behavior. If you notice any of the aggressive behaviors, immediately remove the dogs from the situation. It is especially important to praise and reward when the dogs are sniffing each other while remaining calm. If bringing home a puppy, remember that a puppy may not pick up on an adult dog’s body language, so it is up to you to control the situation. If an adult dog growls, that is okay as this is their way of telling the puppy they have had enough. If the puppy does not back off, it is up to you to remove the puppy.
Last, but certainly not least, give each dog plenty of attention, particularly the resident dogs. If your dogs are like mine, they are extremely attached to you and could easily get jealous. A jealous dog can be an aggressive dog, and this is what we are trying to prevent. Remember, the more positive the initial interactions, the more positive the interactions will be down the road.
Good luck with your introductions and if you have any questions, feel free to leave a reply.