Introducing a new dog to your home can be an exciting but nerve-wracking experience for both you and your current furry family member. Here are some tips to make the introduction go as smoothly as possible:
Don’t just walk your new dog into your home: Never walk straight into your home where your other dogs or cats might be. As they may consider the new dog as an intruder into their space. Your house and the people in it have become their turf and their pack and their natural action is to protect their territory and their pack against an intruder. Not all dogs or cats behave this way but it is better to be safe than sorry.
Introduce the dogs on neutral territory: Before bringing the new dog into your home introduce them to your current dog(s) on neutral territory like a park or a sidewalk so you can assess how they get along. This can help reduce territorial behaviour and make the introduction easier.
Keep calm: Talk quietly to them, relax and remain calm and if things are not going as well as you expected don’t shout at them as they will react to your behaviour which may cause excitement and could lead to aggressive behaviour
Keep the dogs on a leash: During the initial introduction keep the dogs on a leash to prevent any aggressive behaviour. Gradually let them get closer to each other but separate them if necessary. Once they come into contact, normal dog behaviour will likely occur and the dogs will sniff each other in greeting. Signs that the meeting is going well will include relaxed facial expressions, play bows, fast wagging tails and wiggling their hind ends. At this stage you can reward them with a treat.
Supervise the first few interactions: Always supervise their first interactions and separate them if they start to show warning signs which will include stiffening, low growling, and avoidance or hard stares or if one dog becomes too dominant. If you see these behaviours, calmly move the dogs away from each other.
Don't force them to interact: Allow the dogs to interact on their own terms. Some dogs may take longer to warm up to each other, while others may become best friends immediately.
Be patient: It can take weeks for the dogs to accept each other, so you will have to be patient with them. Keep them separate if possible and take them out on leashes for walks until they get used to each other.
Give each dog their own space: Make sure each dog has their own space with their own bed, toys, and food bowls. This can help reduce any territorial behaviour.
Keep a routine: Keep your current dog's routine as normal as possible. This can help reduce any stress they may feel from the new addition to the family.
Remember that introducing a new dog to your home takes time and patience.
With a little effort and lots of love your dogs can become the best of friends. If you encounter any serious aggression or behavioural problems, seek advice from a professional dog trainer or behaviourist.