Introducing Your Dog to a New Dog

Jason Cook

APL_logo_black [Converted]When you bring a new dog into your home, it is essential that you introduce him properly to your resident dog.  The first few weeks together must be handled carefully so that squabbles are avoided and the dogs have positive interactions with each other.

Start by introducing the two dogs on neutral territory or a short walk.  Have each person handle only one dog.  It is important to make sure the dogs’ leashes stay loose to avoid tension and frustration at being restrained.

Allow your dogs to interact for a few seconds at a time.  After a brief period of sniffing, call each dog away and interact with them separately.  You can then allow them to go back to each other for another brief period of sniffing.  Repeat this several times.  If your dogs do not seem interested in one another, do not force them to interact.  Allow them to get to know each other at their own pace.

Keep the introduction upbeat.  Encourage the dogs in a happy, light voice as they sniff one another.

Be sure to keep a close eye on each dog’s body language.  A loose body and open mouth signal that your dog is relaxed.  The dogs may playbow (put their elbows on the ground and their back end in the air) as they greet each other to signal that they would like to play.  If the dogs seem stiff, move slowly, have tensed mouths, bare their teeth, growl, or stare directly at one another, they should be quickly separated.  These are signs that the dogs are feeling aggressive or threatened.

When the initial greetings are over and both dogs seem comfortable, take them home.  Before going inside, walk them together around your house and yard.

For the first few weeks that the dogs are together, it is important that scuffles be avoided.  Pick up all toys, chew, and food bowls, and any of your resident dog’s favorite items so that neither dog feels the need to guard these things.  Each dog should have her own water and food bowls, bed, and toys.  Feed the dogs in separate areas to avoid fights over food, and pick up the empty bowls after meal times.

During these first few weeks, keep playtimes and interactions between the two dogs brief.  The dogs should always be closely supervised while they are together.  If you see any growling or bullying behavior, separate the dogs for a few minutes before allowing them to play again.  Praise both dogs for positive interactions.

When you can’t watch the dogs, confine them in separate rooms.  You can keep the dogs apart using a baby gate.  The dogs can see and smell each other through the gate without interacting directly.   Allow the resident dog to visit the new dog through the gate when he feels like it.

Make sure you spend quality time with each dog individually.  Include separate playtimes, walks, and training sessions.

If your resident dog is older or less energetic than the new dog, be sure that he has a private space where he can rest and relax.

It is important to be patient while your dogs are getting to know each other.  By introducing them slowly, you are setting them up for a good long-term relationship.