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Dogs are social animals who enjoy spending time in each other’s company. But despite their strong sense of belonging, most dogs will not get along with strangers. At least not before they’re properly introduced.
So, if planning to bring a new dog home, it’s imperative to make prior arrangements for proper introductions. You want the new pet to have the best first impression of your home and its occupants, especially if you already have other dogs. As the saying goes, ‘first impressions last longest.’
Join me as I walk you through a step-by-step guide to introducing two dogs.
Before Bringing a New Dog Home…..
1. Understand your dog’s personality
Dogs may be social animals. But they differ considerably in personality. Some dogs are more outgoing while others are a bit introverted.
Understanding your dog’s personality is key in terms of introducing him to a new dog. In fact, this information can help you determine whether you need a new dog in the first place.
2. Establish the other dog’s personality
It’s also important to establish the personality of the new dog before adopting him. You can do that by checking a comprehensive report of the dog’s psychological profile.
Also endeavor to familiarize yourself with the history of the new dog. Pay particular attention to his social lifestyle, including whether he has lived harmoniously with other dogs before.
3. Consider the age and/or size differences
Age and size differences are other important factors that determine how easy it is to introduce two dogs.
As you may have guessed, puppies are easier to introduce than adult dogs. The same logic holds true for size, where similarly-sized dogs are more likely to grow fond of each other than those with noticeable size differences.
However, before two dogs can accept each other’s position in the pack, expect the current dog to demonstrate some dominant behavior. That’s regardless of his age and size.
4. Prepare your home
If everything looks good so far, proceed to prepare your home in readiness for the new dog. Focus on preparations that make your home secure and comfortable for the expected arrival.
For instance, you can consider purchasing an extra crate, leash, toys, food bowls, and litter trays. You can also designate a separate playing patch and sleeping room.
While Introducing The Two Dogs…..
i. Keep the dogs in separate but connected rooms
Dogs have a powerful sense of smell. It won’t be long before your current dog picks up the scent of a new addition to the family.
But to avoid undue confrontations, you should consider keeping the dogs in separate rooms. At least before you begin with the formal introduction.
Just ensure the rooms are connected. This allows the two animals to familiarize themselves with each other’s scent.
ii. Find a neutral spot
The first few meet-ups should be conducted on neutral ground. Choose an outdoor location or a fully fenced spot provided that it’s an area neither dog lays claim to.
Ideally, this should be a location that neither dog frequents during their regular walks or playtime. Examples include the compound of a friend who doesn’t keep pets or a public park during off hours.
Also, select a quiet place with no people or other dogs. The place should further be free of any objects that may cause conflicts, such as bones and dog toys.
iii. Get an extra pair of hands
Unless you’re introducing puppies or smaller dog breeds, you may need an extra pair of hands. Have the other person handle the current dog as you handle the new one.
The extra help should be a family member or friend who knows how to interact with dogs. It should also be a familiar person in whose presence the dog feels comfortable.
iv. Keep both dogs on a leash at first
The biggest mistake you can ever make while introducing two dogs is to do the introductions off-leash.
A leash prevents the current dog from lashing out and scaring away the new pet. It also gives you better control in terms of handling the two dogs.
v. Keep it brief
The first introduction should be as brief as possible. The goal is to get the dogs to see (and not necessarily smell or greet) each other. Resist the urge to let the dogs interact freely even if they’re visibly interested in each other.
It’s also important to watch the dogs’ body language. Tail wagging is a tell-tale sign of a happy dog. On the other hand, fixed stares, tense postures, piloerection, lowered or tucked tail, freezing in place, and teeth baring all indicate agitation.
Most importantly, do not reprimand a dog for lashing out. Yelling or hitting the animal will only reinforce the undesired behavior. Do not react impulsively if the animals try to fight. Instead, intervene by waving a treat over or in front of them.
vi. Gradually increase the duration
As the dogs get comfortable in each other’s presence, you can consider increasing the duration of their meetings. Sniffing, circling, and playing are all signs that the two animals are finally starting to get along.
On a long enough timeline, you’ll be able to walk the dogs together and even play fetch without any problems. At this point, a leash won’t be necessary.
After The Two Dogs Have Gotten Comfortable With Each Other…..
The fact that you’ve successfully introduced two dogs doesn’t mean the animals will always get along. Getting the dogs to live harmoniously is rather a continuous process that requires your active participation.
The following tips may help you maintain peace and harmony between the dogs;
a) Establish a pecking order
As a new dog settles into a pack, the animal will gradually find his place in the family hierarchy. However, there are several ways you can expedite this process. Examples include feeding or giving toys to the dominant dog first.
Just ensure your actions do not come across as sheer favoritism, as this may cause the other dog to lash out in a jealous rage.
b) Monitor mealtimes
Most canine squabbles happen during mealtimes. So, this is the moment to never let your guard down.
You can reduce food aggression by feeding your dogs in different rooms. And as already mentioned, you might also consider feeding the dogs at different times, starting with the dominant ones.
c) Monitor playtimes
Play aggression is nearly as dangerous as food aggression. Therefore, constantly monitor your dogs during playtime too. That’s especially if you have a rambunctious dog.
A happy playtime can easily turn into a vicious confrontation. If you notice any signs of agitation, separate the dogs and redirect their attention to something else before the situation escalates.
d) Give each dog his own toys and bed
Dogs can be fiercely territorial. No matter how well two dogs relate, their possessive nature may not allow them to share toys and beds. Therefore, it’s imperative to give each dog his own toys and beds.
e) Tire the dogs down
Dogs are more likely to get into fights if they have more pent-up energy and not enough ways to release it. That underscores the importance of keeping your dogs stimulated at all times.
Play with and walk your dogs as frequently as possible. Besides, ensure the dogs have enough toys to keep them stimulated in your absence.
These interventions will keep the animals preoccupied and tire them down, thereby preventing unnecessary confrontations.
Introducing two dogs successfully and eventually getting the animals to live harmoniously is a process rather than an overnight event. So, ensure you have the skills and patience required before bringing a new dog home.