6 Steps to Introducing a New Dog Into Your Home

April 10th, 2015

If one dog just isn’t enough and you want to adopt another dog, here are 6 tips for introducing your current dog to your new one. Following this advice can make for a smooth introduction, and hopefully a lifelong friendship.

1. Have the dogs meet in a neutral location

2013_12_happy_hound_0158@2xChoose an area unfamiliar to each, so that your dog is less likely to view the newcomer as a territorial intruder. This could be a neighbor’s yard or a park you have not been to often. Each dog should be on a leash and handled by a separate person.

2. Positive reinforcement

Introduce the dogs by letting them sniff each other while you talk to them in a happy, friendly tone of voice. Keep yourself calm, relaxed, and in control of the situation. Interrupt their sniffing and turn their attention back to you by rewarding them with treats for simple commands like “sit”. Then talk the dogs for a little walk, continuing with regular intervals of praise, affection, and rewarding commands with treats.

3. Watch their body language

One thing you’ll often see is a “play-bow”—one dog will crouch with her front legs on the ground and her hind end in the air. This is an invitation to play, and a posture that usually elicits friendly behavior from the other dog.

Aggressive responses including hair standing up on one dog’s back, teeth-baring, deep growls, a stiff-legged gait, or a prolonged stare. If you see these, interrupt the interaction immediately by calmly getting each dog interested in something else.

4. How to help the dogs get along at home

2013_12_happy_hound_0355@2xWhen the dogs are able to be in each other’s presence without fearful or aggressive behavior,  you can take them home. It’s important to support the dominant dog in your household, even if that’s the newcomer. This might mean letting the dominant dog claim a toy or a sleeping spot for his own. Let the two dogs work out the pecking order without your opinions or preferences getting in the way.

5. Introducing puppies to adult dogs

Left to their own devices, puppies will pester adult dogs all day and all night. And if they’re four months or younger, they might not recognize warning signs from adult dogs. It’s normal for well-socialized dogs to set limits with a growl or a snarl. If your adult dog starts biting or snapping, it’s time to separate them and give your older dog some love and attention.

6. When to get help resolving dog conflicts

Punishment won’t work, and could make things worse. And you don’t want to get caught in the middle of a dog fight. If the introductions don’t go smoothly, Happy Hound training services are available to help the introductions go more smoothly. In most situations, conflicts between dogs in the same family can be resolved with professional guidance.