Having pets is a great experience that enriches the lives of both you and your animals. Caring for and nurturing them creates a lifelong companion. That’s probably why you’re considering getting another dog. Introducing a new dog to other pets can be stressful, but there are simple ways to make it a positive experience.
Introducing a new dog should happen at a neutral spot–not in your apartment, where your other dog can become territorial. A park, neighbor’s yard or a walk through the neighborhood are perfect. However, if it’s a park you regularly visit, Fido may see that as his territory too, so pick a new park. Be sure each dog is handled by a different person so if the situation gets tense they can be separated.
Let the dogs sniff one another when they meet, but don’t force it. The dogs should dictate initial steps. If they don’t seem interested, that’s alright. Maybe take a walk around the block and try again. It may take some time, but they will interact when they are ready. Keep sniffing encounters brief and numerous.
Encourage the dogs with a happy tone of voice. This will help ease any tension they may be feeling. After some time of positive interaction, give the dogs a simple command, then a treat as a reward for their good behavior. Keep up this cycle of sniffing, happy talk, simple instructions and rewards. You’re building a positive experience that the dogs will associate with one another.
Pay attention to the dogs’ posture. If they are relaxed with open mouths and playful bows (when a dog lowers his front paws and sticks his butt in the air), things are going well. Growling, tense muscles and defensive postures are a sign to pull things back for a while.
A good way to pull the dogs apart before the situation gets aggressive is to have both handlers call the dogs over and give them a command. As always, reward their obedience with a treat. This will diffuse the situation while keeping it positive. When things cool down, try letting the dogs interact again.
Taking Them Home
Once you feel as though things are going well and both you and the dogs are comfortable, take them on a walk around your place of residence. Now your old dog is near his territory and can begin letting the new dog experience it.
Once home, give each dog his own water and food bowl. This should be the same if you’re introducing your new puppy to an old cat. Rivalries can break out over what belongs to whom, so it’s important that they each have something of their own. You may also want to feed the dogs in separate areas to prevent one from taking food from the other.
There will eventually be a dominant dog of the house–and that’s a good thing. You, as the owner, should support that dog no matter which one it is. This dog may take more toys and go for prime sleeping spots. If you try to impose your will of who is dominant, you will confuse them. Allow this power relationship to develop naturally.
After some time, house and pet dynamics will settle and your dogs will have a good relationship.