Introducing Your New Dog To Your Resident Dog(s)
Remove all bones, toys, and food before the new pup arrives. The best way to start off introductions is to remove anything that they might fight over. It is not unusual for dogs to compete for resources when forced to live in a “pack” situation. Save the bones and special toys for when they’re safely in their crates or at least in a separate area.
Make introductions brief. Introductions should be brief. If they sniff and then ignore, give them a little more time and don’t force the issue. Brief introductions, followed by having them separate is a good way to avoid stressful situations. You can then slowly increase the amount of time together. Do not let a young puppy jump all over your older dog, so keep intros brief. If your dog is stressed it might be wise to briefly crate the new dog. The best way to introduce inside is to bring your dogs outside and bring the new dog inside. Then let your dogs in. That will lessen the chances of your dogs feeling protective. It’s wise to keep leashes on until you’re sure the dogs are getting along. Again, keep the meeting short.
Be conservative. Don’t leave the dogs to play unattended, even if it looks as if everything is going well. Play is arousing and high arousal can lead to out of control emotions which can lead to aggression. It’s very similar to children on a play ground. It’s often the smaller dogs who get picked on so make sure you pick your play group appropriately.
Feed separately. Feeding should be enjoyable and stress-free. Always feed visiting dogs separately, either in their crate away from your dogs, or in another room. Make sure all food is removed before putting them together in a group again. Even the best of friends in the dog world can fight over food.
Allow for a transition period. The most successful multiple dog households allow the dogs to get used to one another gradually. Let them have several brief introductions over a 2-3 day period, often longer. As volunteers, we have fostered many dogs successfully by letting our pack get used to the new dog slowly. The person with the most patience often has the greatest success. It’s always best to crate the new pup and let your dog get used to his smells without being jumped on or feeling like his territory is infringed upon.
When the honeymoon is over. In some situations the dogs will hit if off beautifully, but after a few weeks the trouble begins when the new dog decides to move up in status. Often it is the younger, more insecure dog who will try this maneuver. If you have a dominant dog, he or she will correct the new dog. This is okay. It may take a few times for the new dog to take the correction. Sometimes the new dog will eventually move up and your resident dogs will give in. This is okay too. If you find yourself constantly breaking up fights then you should call us for help. The reason we’re so careful in our placements with other dogs is to prevent an adoption disruption, especially after you’ve grown attached to the dog. Same sex dogs of equal size and breed often have the most trouble because it’s hard for them to figure out where they belong in the pack. Whatever you do, don’t try to break up a dog fight by reaching in near the dog’s face or neck. If you are outside you can spray with the hose and inside try yelling, clapping hands, spaying with a squirt bottle, or even grabbing the rear legs of the dog.