You have found the perfect dog at the local shelter. It was love at first sight; you’re excited and can’t wait to get the new family member home. But wait, what about your dog already in residence? He or she may not be quite so happy to see the newcomer. What can you do to make introducing a new dog a smooth experience? Here are some tips for you to avoid any potential rough spots.
Introducing a New Dog Made Simple
First of all, choose a location that’s neutral when introducing a new dog. By choosing a neutral location, there won’t be a territorial dispute. Have one person handle the family dog and one person handle the newcomer. With each dog being controlled by being on a leash, begin the introductions. Let them see each other and sniff one another briefly. This is a normal canine greeting. Don’t permit it to continue too long, just a quick introduction while you talk in a happy and cheery tone of voice. Next, have them sit or stay and reward them with a treat while still talking in a happy voice. You want this to be a positive experience.
Next, take the dogs for a walk. Let them sniff each other occasionally while still talking in a cheerful and friendly voice. Give the simple commands and continue to reward with treats. You want this introduction to be a rewarding time for both dogs. Be aware of how the dog’s body language is acting out. If one of the dogs “play bows”, this is a great sign. A play bow is when one dog leans down and puts its hindquarters up in the air; the dog is inviting the other dog to play. Usually, this action gets a friendly response from the other dog. However, if there is teeth-baring, deep growls, or a gait that is stiff-legged, back off and separate the dogs immediately. Divert the dog’s attention to something else, like sitting. Then give each dog a treat. You don’t want the aggression to escalate.
When the dogs seem at ease with each other, you can take them home. If you have multiple dogs, you have to introduce each one separately by the same method. When you reach home, let the resident dog off the leash first. Keep the new dog on the leash as you let the dog explore the house. If the resident dog is still being friendly, let the new dog off the leash. Supervise the dogs closely until they’ve been together for 1-2 weeks. They should not be left alone until then. Keep all the routines the same. Maintain separate feeding stations, so there aren’t any food aggressions.
If there are issues with introducing a new dog, contact a professional animal behaviorist immediately. Dogs can hurt each other and you if you try to separate them if there is a fight. The longer there is a conflict, the more difficult it becomes to correct the problem. A professional can help with issues and resolve them so everyone can live together peacefully.
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