Bringing home a new dog and introducing them to other dogs can be a dodgy situation. It can also be stressful for all dogs involved and for you as well. If you’re planning to grow your four legged family and bring a new dog into your home, following these tips will help ease the transition and hopefully take away the stress that may be caused.
When bringing in a new dog, experts say body language is key. First, make sure each dog has a handler and is on a leash. Even the most gentle and behaved dogs can be territorial of their space and having them on leashes will allow you to separate them should they not get along right away.
In most cases both dogs will be very excited to see each other. Wait until they calm dog and let the calmer dog approach the other one. This is a great opportunity to take them on a walk together and let them interact with each other in a space that doesn’t feel as territorial.
Watch their sniffing closely. Dogs live in a world where they rely on scent and letting them smell each other is the equivalent to a human handshake. Usually dogs sniff nose to nose then nose to rear. When this happens, pay attention to body language. If one dog growls, shows teeth, acts nervous or defensive, firmly say “no” and regain its attention. Separate the two for a short period of time then repeat the introduction process at home.
If none of the warning signs are present, allow the dogs to act natural with each other while you keep an eye on them. If they start to play or your dog walks back towards you without caring about the other dog, this is a sign that your they have accepted the new dog into the home.
Other Tips from the Experts
- While the dogs are left alone, make sure to separate them with baby gates or crates. This will prevent any unwanted altercations while the dogs get to know each other.
- Prevent food altercations by avoiding free-feeding. Feed twice a day and separate your dogs initially for feeding, e.g. in crates, separate rooms, or different corners of the same room.
- Monitor your dogs when you give them bones, rawhides, and treats. Begin by giving these highly desirable items while your dogs are separated. When the dogs have more trust in your leadership, and you have trust in them, then begin monitoring “chew time” when the dogs are in the same room together. Never leave bones, rawhides unattended! For most dogs, this is a fight waiting to happen.
- Make sure there are enough toys and beds to go around for both dogs. During the initial weeks, monitor toy play. Especially for rope toys or any toys that can result in a game of “Tug of War,” and squeaky toys. Dogs with high prey drives can become possessive of squeaky toys, as the squeak sounds can resemble the sounds a small animal makes when it is being killed.
- Monitor play time and be conscious of each other dog’s body language, including those subtle cues: lip curls, ears back, hackles raised, tail held high, stiff body stance, and staring at the other dog. If you see these signs, correct the dog by telling it to go lie down and wait until it becomes mentally relaxed (you will see this through a change in body language). If the second dog did something to warrant such warnings by the first dog, make sure to give that dog the correction. Most play between a male and a female will be self-regulated (i.e female will correct when male plays too rough, humps, etc.). However, it is important to intervene and give a correction when the dog is not responding to the corrections given by the other dog.
- Realize that some dogs become vocal during playtime. Some people mistakenly take a “growl” to mean the dog is being vicious. However, the “growl” needs to be put into context: was it during a play bow? Did the other dog growl back? As long as the intensity of the play did not escalate, you can be assured that the other dog is just being “vocal” during playtime.
- Make sure to give each dog individual attention, just as you would children. This can be achieved during training sessions, walks, and outings to the pet store and dog parks.