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Adding a New Dog to Your Pack—What You Need to Know

Will Rogers famously said, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” Dogs are pretty forgiving when it comes to first impressions, but they are still very important. When introducing a new dog to a home with a resident dog there are some steps you can take for success. This article will help make dog-to-dog introductions as smooth as possible.

Before the Introduction

First things first, get a clear understanding of the background on both dogs. Do either of them have anxious or aggressive tendencies? If yes, consider if adding another dog into the mix is a good and safe choice.

If both dogs are friendly be sure to still take extra care when making first introductions.

Tips for Success

  1. Do not bring the current dog with you when you go to pick up the new dog. It is very difficult to manage all of that energy in the confines of a car.
  2. Bring a friend to assist with the introduction — so each dog has a handler.
  3. The initial meeting should be in a neutral setting, not your home. That’s because the resident dog is more likely to get territorial.
  4. Keep the dogs leashed and allow them to initiate introductions, but keep a close lookout for signs of aggression. If they initially get along, keep the introduction short. Then repeat a few minutes later. This helps reduces tension build-up and gives each dog a moment of rest.
  5. You and the other handler must keep calm and be positive since dogs can sense fear and distress in humans.
  6. Have treats ready to reward good behavior.
  7. If you’re introducing a new dog to several resident dogs, make each introduction separately to prevent the resident dogs from overwhelming the new dog.
  8. Before entering your house, take your dogs on a brief walk together.
  9. Upon entering the house, walk both dogs throughout the house together. If they accomplish this calmly, you can unleash them.

The First Few Weeks

The first few weeks are still a critical time as both of your dogs acclimate to the new social arrangement. Assuming the initial introduction went well, there are just two more things to keep in mind.

  1. When you leave the house, keep the dogs either in separate crates or separate rooms. This can prevent fighting, as well as prevent your new dog from developing destructive behavior, like chewing or relieving itself.
  2. Aim to prevent conflict. Do not allow one of the dogs to limit the other dog’s access to you, a member of your family, or a common area of the house. According to an article in Animal Humane Society, in “multi-dog households, there isn’t usually a dominant dog or submissive dog. Instead, dogs’ roles change depending on the context involved.”

Are you introducing a new dog to your pack? Try these tactics for a smooth transition!