January 26, 2022

HOW TO INTRODUCE A NEW DOG TO YOUR CURRENT DOG

Advice

So you have decided to expand your family? Congrats! 

Introducing a dog to their new sibling (aka. your current dog) is sure to spur a mix of nervousness and excitement.  Many dog owners expect dogs to be social beings that look forward to having a new playmate, and although dogs are social animals that tend to love the company of other dogs, things can get messy if proper introductions are not made. Follow the steps below to make the transition as smooth as possible for both dogs. 


IT'S IN THEIR DNA

Dogs are pack animals, and the addition of a second or third dog into the home often triggers a genetic pack drive or rank drive. When a new dog is added to a home, every dog in that house has to re-establish its personal rank within the new family pack. Re-establishing rank is where dog fights come from. 



INTRODUCING PUPPIES TO ADULT DOGS

Puppies usually torment adult dogs unmercifully.  Before approximately the age of four months, or sometimes older, puppies may not recognize subtle body postures from adult dogs signaling that they’ve had enough.

 

Well-socialized adult dogs with good temperaments may set limits with puppies with a growl or snarl, never hurting the puppy although the puppy may yelp out of surprise. This communication is healthy and should be allowed.



PRE - INTRODUCTION CHECKLIST

First impressions are important, make sure you check all items in this list before your new dog walks into your home.


  • Put away anything that might cause a fight—like dog toys, bones, beds, and even empty food bowls. 
  • Give each dog his own water and food bowls, bed and toys.
  • Make sure they each have their space to eat and sleep; Feed the dogs in completely separate areas.
  • Both dogs should be up-to-date on their vaccinations.
  • You may even try using a tall baby gate to keep the dogs’ spaces separated until they’ve had time to get used to each other.


Steps for Introducing a New Dog to Your Current Dog 

STEP #1. CHOOSE A NEUTRAL SPOT FOR THE FIRST MEETING:   It’s best to avoid introducing the dogs in the house — or even in the yard — where the resident dog may become territorial. "Neutral grounds," as the name implies, refers to areas where your existing dog has no strong emotional attachment. 

PRO TIP: Open areas are ideal, as there are a lot of interesting sights and sounds to keep the dogs distracted.  


STEP #2 PAY ATTENTION TO THE BODY LANGUAGE: Watch the dogs for happy, waggy body language and interest in one another without hard stares, tense postures, freezing in place, or a lowered or tucked tail. Expect the dogs to sniff, circle, play, urinate or simply ignore each other. Let them do what they want to establish a relationship — with as little mediation from the owner as possible. 

PRO TIP: Head to the meeting spot with the dogs separately and always handle introductions with both dogs on leash.


STEP #3 TAKE YOUR PETS FOR A WALK

Keep the initial interaction brief. After the dogs meet, try going for a short walk together. If the walk together goes well, your dogs may be ready to meet on home turf.

PRO TIP:  if you own more than one pet, introduce one dog at a time.


To prevent hard feelings, it's best that each dog is given separate but equal time initially. Be sure to give the adult dog some quiet time away from the puppy, and not force them to interact. If your dogs are very different in age or energy level, be sure to give the older or less energetic one his own private space where he can enjoy rest and down time.


WHEN TO GET HELP

If the introduction of a new dog to a household doesn’t go smoothly, contact us to help your dog reach its full potential. Learn more about our training philosophy and services here.


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