Creating Harmony Within Your Canine Family: How to Introduce a New Dog to Your Current Dog
Adopting a second or third dog can be a great idea. Dogs need a lot of stimulation and companionship, and having another dog around can be a great outlet for their excess energy and provide some much needed companionship. However, the initial meeting between the two dogs is extremely important. You want a great relationship to blossom between the two, but if they are not introduced correctly what you could end up with is a territorial rivalry. There are a few ways that you can make the initial meeting between your two pups go as smoothly as possible so that the two can become fast friends.
You need to see the situation from your current dog’s perspective. He or she might be worried that this new dog is going to be taking over the house, taking all of the food, dog toys and attention, much like a young child might feel towards a sibling. Dogs can be very territorial creatures. This is why it is best to introduce the two dogs on neutral ground. Have a friend help you take the two dogs on a walk around the neighborhood or a nearby park.
Do not force the dogs to interact with each other right away. Simply give them the opportunity to greet each other when they are ready. The dogs will eventually sniff each other over in the form of a greeting. Watch the dog’s body language and keep an eye out for any signs of anxiety or aggression. Try to notice if either dog seems tense, is growling, or baring teeth. Once the dogs have greeted each other, separate them and give them each a treat. Walk them separately for a bit, and then return to let them interact again, each time giving them a treat. Once the dogs seem to be comfortable with one another, you can take them to your home.
When the two dogs are home together, for the first few weeks try to eliminate any opportunities for rivalries. Feed the dogs in completely separate areas, and have separate toys, beds, and chews for each dog. Make sure that your new dog does not have access to the current dog’s favorite toys. If you do give either dog a treat or a toy, only do so when the dogs are separate. If the dogs do show any signs of growling or fighting, separate them assertively until they are calm and then reintroduce them to one another.
The key is to make the introductory phase as stress and tension free as possible so that the dogs will quickly learn to tolerate one another. Hopefully, they will soon learn to enjoy one another’s company and time with you. When you do see positive interactions between the dogs, reward both of them with treats and encouraging words and affection. The dogs will then think of each other in a positive way. If after the first couple of weeks, the two dogs do not seem to be tolerating each other, you should not hesitate to seek the help of an animal behaviorist. These problems are more easily addressed sooner than later.