What is the best way for me to introduce a new dog to my “resident” dog so that they will all get off to the best start together?
This is a question that we are often asked. There are a few steps to follow that will make the transition for everyone as easy as possible.
- Meet on neutral ground. Outside in front of a neighbor’s house is best. The resident family dog will feel protective of his home and considers your home his “territory” so never just bring the new dog inside without an introduction first.
- Make sure to have help. Each dog should be on a leash under the control of one person. Walk the new dog up to the resident dog. Stay relaxed and keep the leashes relaxed as possible. A collar pulled tight will cause each dog to feel restraint frustration which elevates tension and the risk of aggression.
- Make the meeting fun! Have treats on hand, talk to the dogs with a “happy” voice. Most people are so focused on making sure all goes well that they forget to talk and both dogs need to hear a positive tone from you. This indicates to them that their leaders are confident and in control.
- Let each dog sniff each other for just a few seconds, then take a walk together. Ever notice when one dog sniffs another so long that the “sniffed” dog stiffens up or tries to move away? Don’t let it get that far. Literally count to three then say “come” and start walking before either dog can react. Once walking, each dog can still see and smell the other but there are a lot of other things to pay attention to and good things to sniff, so they are not as worried about each other.
- Praise each dog and give each dog treats. Praising, petting and giving treats teach each dog that good things happen when they are together. An added advantage to having two people present when introducing dogs is that each person can focus on praising the dog they have.
- Watch for warning signs like raised fur on the back, staring or stiffening up. If one dog acts aggressively, don’t punish the aggressor, but instead take him to a neutral area to settle down and ignore him. If both dogs act aggressively, remove both to separate neutral areas and try again later in the day.
- When correcting unacceptable behavior, timing is everything. Stay in control and don’t wait until the first lunge. At the first stare or growl, correct with a firm “No” and a quick but not punishing leash correction. Redirect the dog’s attention to you. Make the dog obey a simple command like “Sit” to break its concentration. Do NOT treat at this time because you don’t want to be rewarding that growl or stare!
- Once you have walked a bit and things are going well, take the dogs inside. Step in the door before the dogs, and take the resident dog in first. Leave the leashes on for quick control if needed and walk into an open room. Keep all toys and treats out of sight until everyone is comfortable.
- Baby gates are your friend! Gate the new dog into a room that is still within sight and smell of the resident dog and the family if possible. Correct any staring or growling over the baby gate at each other with a firm “NO.” Let everyone get used to each other behind the safety of a gate.
- It is best to feed separately, keep toys out of reach for a few days and stay positive!
Remember that all of us at Almost Home are here to help you settle your new dog into your family so please reach out to us if you need anything.
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