Introducing a new dog to the home is something owners should approach with great care. No matter how happy-go-lucky the new dog or the current dog may seem, it’s important to remember that they’re strangers to each other. It’s important to take your time and monitor the interaction of the dogs to gauge their demeanor.
Steps for Introducing a New Dog to the Home
Introducing a new dog to the home requires forethought, patience, and vigilance. In a perfect world, your current dog will see a new buddy in your new dog and vice versa. While that can be the case in many instances, it may not always work out that way. It’s important to take time and care so that your two dogs can become friends more easily and smoothly.
The most important thing you should do when considering bringing home a new dog is introducing your other dog to him. Most shelters allow for visits between the prospective adoptee and the currently-owned dog. Bring your dog in to meet his potential buddy and see how they get along. Before adopting Miles, the Fulton County Animal Shelter allowed me to bring Humphrey to see if they’d get along. Since they’re both so large, it was really helpful to be able have them meet on neutral grounds before coming into my loft.
2. Look For Positive Signs
Look for signs that they’re happy to be meeting a new friend. A relaxed stance, wagging tail, and playful movements are all signs that they’re happy to be meeting someone new. Continue to allow them to interact, watching for any signs that there might be a problem. Remember, dogs love to rough house, so wrestling and jumping on one another is a good thing as long as there is no aggression involved.
3. Be Mindful of Negative Signs Too
Of course, the most obvious sign that the new dog might not be a good fit is any sort of lunging on the part of either dog. Other obvious signs are growling, bared teeth, raised hackles, and a tense posture.
Less obvious signs might be tail-wagging coupled with raised hackles. This can be a tricky one, however, because dogs raise their hackles in moments of aggression or in moments of excitement. Be watchful and allow the dogs to interact while keeping a tight grip on the leashes so you can pull them apart should things go sideways.
Officially Introducing a New Dog to the Home
If your current dog and the dog you want to adopt seem to get along, it’s time to bring your new pooch home. Don’t just walk him into the door, however. Dogs can get along swimmingly in a neutral environment and then turn around and fight when the new dog enters your dog’s home turf.
4. Remove Favorite Toys, Objects, and Food
Before introducing a new dog to the home, remove all of your current dog’s favorite toys, objects, and food from all common spaces and put them in a room designated as his own. Remember, even though your dog got along with the new guy at the shelter, he’ll now be adjusting to having a new dog in his territory. It’s important to remove anything that your dog considers to be his property in order to avoid any resource guarding in the beginning.
5. Initial Interaction in Common Spaces
If possible, bring your new dog home in the morning so both dogs have a chance to fully acclimate to each other over the course of the day while you can watch over them. Keep interactions to common areas like the living room and dining room.
It’s important to avoid giving immediate free reign of your home to the new dog. Most dogs consider areas like bedrooms to be their areas. Keep initial interaction to common areas to lessen any chance of territorial aggression.
6. Vigilance is Vital
When introducing a new dog to the home it is absolutely vital that you remain vigilant. Do not ever, for any reason, leave the dogs alone while they are getting to know each other. While it may seem unlikely, especially if the dogs are getting along well, things can go from paradise to the Thunderdome in no time flat.
Throughout the first day’s introduction, you or a family member should remain with both dogs at all times. This ensures that someone is there to intercede in the unfortunate event that the dogs get into a fight.
7. Sleeping Arrangements
If the dogs are getting along well, you can allow them to sleep wherever they want. Usually, by the time the day is over, they’ll have acclimated to one another. Go to bed a little bit earlier than usual so the dogs can get used to being in the same space while you’re awake and can watch how they interact. If things go well, it’s off to sleep.
However, if the dogs have had any bumps in the road during the day, it’s better to have them sleep in separate areas. Confine the new dog to a room that your dog doesn’t typically sleep in to avoid any possibility of problems during the night.
Bonus Tips: Introducing a New Dog to Your Other Dog’s Things
You can’t keep both dogs and all of their toys separate forever. In fact, you wouldn’t want to. The idea is that they become buddies. Continue as the tips above instruct for as long as necessary to ensure that the dogs are getting along. This could be just one day to up to a week, depending on how the two dogs interact.
Once you’re confident they have accepted each other as friends, it’s time to get the house back to normal. Slowly bring out your original dog’s toys and items, ensuring that no aggressive resource guarding is happening. If all seems well, simply watch the dogs as the new dog inspects the toys and items that are normally in the home for your dog.
However, if you see any signs of resource guarding, immediately remove the toys and begin again with supervised playtime. Don’t force the issue as this could cause a fight.
When introducing a new dog to the home, it’s important to feed each dog separately for the first few weeks. Nothing can start a fight like food can, especially if either of the dogs is food motivated.
Feed each dog in a separate room and watch to ensure that one doesn’t try to get to the other’s food. After a couple of weeks, you can begin feeding them in separate bowls in the same room.
Patience is Key When Introducing a New Dog
When introducing a new dog to your original dog, the name of the game is patience. Take as much time as required to ensure a smooth transition. Never try to speed up or force the process. That can lead to aggressive behavior, and you don’t want that.
Whether it takes a few days or a couple of weeks, it’s better to err on the side of caution when introducing a new dog to the home. If you do that, everything should work out swimmingly.