10 Guidelines For Introducing Your Family Dog To A New Dog

10 Guidelines For Introducing Your Family Dog To A New Dog

I got a question about introducing your new dog to your old dog.

Here are some things to consider:

1. Every relationship is different

Every relationship is different for us and for your dogs too. Let your dogs get to know each other in their own time and on their own terms. Coaxing or forcing them to be together can really backfire. Don’t worry if it takes them even days to start to connect. Just let them approach each other when ready.

2. Use indoor fences and/or crates

Use indoor fences and/or crates to reduce the stress and give each of your dogs space. While they may stay on separate sides of a room, they still know your other dog is loose and can approach. Let each of your dogs have their own space to rest most of the time. They can still see, smell and hear your other dog when one is crated or behind a fence so even if it doesn’t look like it, they are getting to know each other.

3. Use Dog Appeasing Phermone (Adaptil)

Phermones are one way that animals communicate and wonderful for us, there is a synthetically made phermone for dogs that gives the message that your dog is safe. The phermones used are ones given off by the dam (mother dog) when she is nursing her puppies. It promotes a feeling of security, safety and relaxation. It may not work for every dog but it is worth the test.

Adaptil, a dog appeasing phermone, has research and data to back up it’s effectiveness and while it is not 100%, it helps with a majority of dogs. If you choose another brand, make sure it has the data to show that the concentration level and formulation works well.

This product is recommended by Veterinary Behaviorists, Veterinarians and other dog professionals. It is odorless, won’t stain and comes in a variety of formulations, including as a spray, as a collar, as wipes and as a room diffuser.

4. Limit Your Dog’s Time Together At First

Give your dogs about an hour together, at most, the first couple days and then you’ll need to use your best judgement to increase that amount of time but better safe than sorry – do it slowly.

5. Give Your Dogs The Space They Need to Adjust Slowly

If your dogs play well together right away, then great! But you’ll still want to give them space to adjust slowly.

6. Expect That Your New Dog’s Personality Can Change

Your new dog may take 3 weeks and sometimes more, to really settle in so that you will see their full personality. Just keep that in mind.

7. Be Prepared That Children Can Add A Different Dynamic

You may have wonderful children but most children add a lot more energy to the environment depending on their age and activity level, so your new dog will need more rest than if you lived alone or in a home with adults only.

8. Take Some Safety Precautions To Prevent Your New Dog From Running Away

If your new dog is not a young puppy, and if they miss their old home, it is easier for them to wander off than a puppy would. Finding your new dog after they wander or run off, can be heartbreaking and exhausting. so take some safety precautions, such as:

  • Use a crate in the car (well, this is always wise but even more so with your new dog!)
  • Double leash your new dog: Attach one leash to the collar and one to a harness so if one slips away, you still have hold of your dog.
  • Always keep high value treats with you just in case you need to encourage your new dog to come out from hiding.
  • If your two dogs want to play outside or you want to release your new dog for exercise, please use a fenced yard – not an invisible fence because your dog may just go right through it – use a physical fence.
    • A “no-climb fence” is a great option. We love ours! It is a split rail fence about 3 feet high with a strong wire fence securely attached to it. That same wire fence is also buried about 6″ below ground to prevent your dog from digging out AND just as important, to prevent other animals from coming into your yard….. like SKUNKS! Well, skunks can climb but it’s a pretty good deterrent.

9. Each Of Your Dogs Need Special Time With You

Really important! Each of your dogs need special time with you, so use that time in these ways:

  • My motto is “Train One, Treat Both”: Just do this a couple minutes 2-3 times a day, especially at first.
    • Keep one of your dogs behind a fence or in a crate, while you do training exercises with the other one.
    • When the one being trained gets a food reward or praise, so does the other dog – eye contact, congratulatory words and a treat if you are using them.
    • The one not being trained is being rewarded for patience and doing this provides a positive association with the other dog.
    • Eventually, you’ll be able to do this with both loose but one on a bed or a mat waiting patiently.
  • Walk them separately at first and later, occasionally so they get that special time with you.
  • When you are home, you can also spend time separately in different rooms.

10. Beware Of Power Struggles And Dog Fights

There may be a power struggle between your dogs. If you run into this trouble, it can come up even months after you bring a new dog home, so make sure to follow the above instructions. Know that there is no easy way to help you in a single blog but in general, you want the dogs to work this out for themselves. Here are some helpful guidelines:

  • If there is any reason, at all, for a safety concern, then your dogs MUST be safely separated and/or supervised. There are some dogs that just won’t ever get along. If this is your situation, PLEASE get help from a qualified professional.
  • First, keep your food and your children’s food out of reach when you have more than one dog, just in case they start to guard or jockey for that resource.
  • Similarly, if one of your dogs keeps taking something like a toy or bone from the other dog, please don’t try to even it out! Let them work this out as long as safety is not an issue. This is common for one dog to claim all the resources at first and sometimes, later on occassion. They do not have to share like we make children do so in school. Sometimes it helps to have several of the same toy but again, this depends on the dogs.
  • Please do not break up a fight using your hands! People get serious injuries because your dogs are no longer in a state where they realize they are or could hurt you. This is especially important to teach children.
  • If you must break up a fight, first try to startle your dogs by making a loud noise, knocking over a chair or anything that may make them stop. If that doesn’t work, you can use a pole like a broom handle to try and separate the dogs or push something between them. Some people will tell you to grab their tails but all I can say is that each and every situation is different. I’m sure you love your dogs but please, safety first so you just can’t reach in and pull them apart without a real risk of injury. I could tell you many sad stories.
  • Practice with your children so they know what to do if a fight does break out between your dogs. They should come and get you! Or if home alone, call for help from a neighbor. I’m not sure if calling 911 would be a good idea but the police have access to help. There is a lot more to say about safety with dogs and children. I am not covering it all here.

Having two dogs or even more can be incredibly enriching for you and for your dogs and while it is common for homes to have more than one dog, personalities vary and it is important to be respectful of that with your dogs. Then have some fun!

Please put your questions below or join me on my facebook page, Play To Behave and ask me there!

Happy Training!