Introducing A New Pet To Your Old Pet
For dog owners, having one big furry family is heaven! But it's not very often we adopt three dogs all at once; we gradually build our furry families and it can be a challenge to bring in a new dog and have all the personalities click immediately. Here are 7 tips for introducing a new dog to your old dog.
Choose The Right Dog
If you haven't yet picked out the perfect pup and you are adopting a dog from a rescue or shelter, they can tell you about each dog and how well they get along with other pets. Some dogs don't socialize well with other dogs and others are desperate for canine companionship -- rescue professionals can tell you about which dogs might be suitable for your situation.
Get 'Em Fixed
Spaying and neutering changes a dog's personality. The procedures remove those hormones that make dogs aggressive and territorial, so they tend to be calmer and more accepting of other dogs; they're also less likely to destroy things like furniture, children's books or shoes. Dogs can be fixed at age two months or when they weigh 2 lbs. If you're adopting a dog from a rescue or shelter, spaying and neutering is typically included in the fee; if you're buying a pup, you likely will have to make arrangements for the operation yourself.
Read Your Dogs
Though all dogs have different personalities, there are a few behaviors that are consistent with all of them. Hard stares and stiffness is a sign of aggression and if you get this from either dog, you want to take a step back and let them get used to the presence of the other dogs at a distance. If they seem calm and happy, feel free to let them sniff each other. Hold the leash loosely but maintain control in case one of the dogs gets spooked.
Do your best to introduce your new dog to your old dog in a place that's unfamiliar to either dog -- that means you have to do it before you actually bring your new dog home. You want to have them sniff it out where neither dog feels territorial so they don't feel compelled to protect their space or home. Putting them on neutral grounds makes them equally uneasy during their first meeting. Think about parks that you don't go to regularly where there aren't a lot of dogs -- it's a little bit of a hassle, but it's worth it to get your dogs familiar with each other.
Make sure you have a partner to handle one of the dogs at their introduction. You don't know how either dog will react, and if one is more aggressive than you're comfortable with, you need more than another person to rein in its leash.
Be very gentle with your commands and use a soothing voice to communicate to your dogs. If one of the dogs gets agitated, harsh tones will only add to the stress of the situation. Keep calm and they'll carry on.
Once your dogs have met, solidify the relationship by walking together for a few minutes. Keep a bit of a distance as you go along, but stay close enough that they're aware of each other. When the nervousness dies down, take them home. When you arrive at your house, let them walk in together to establish the new relationship. Once they're inside, let the new dog take a look around. If your old dog is having trouble accepting the new addition, putting him in his crate or a closed-off room is fine, but leave bath towels or toys from the new dog in the room with your old dog so he can get used to the scent. Have the dogs switch off free-range time and every so often, let them in the same room. Gradually give them more time together until they see each other as friends rather than rivals.