Dogs are man’s best friend so it’s definitely hard to resist getting more than one. But introducing a new dog to your current pups can be a daunting process, especially if your existing pup doesn’t get along too well with other dogs.
Bringing in a new dog can, therefore, be a huge decision and much planning and consideration should be made before the move. Thankfully, there are some ways you can help ease your new furry family member into your current dogs’ pack.
Let’s take a look at some tips for introducing your new dog to your current pups!
#1 Consider Your Current Pack
Before you find a new pup to bring home, it’s important to first consider if your current dogs’ needs are being met. Think hard about whether you’re able to provide sufficient care for multiple dogs equally, with enough playtime and attention as needed.
Next, consider your existing pups’ personality - Are they generally independent? Could they find sharing you with another pup difficult? Are they aggressive with other dogs? Do they suffer from health problems that could make playing or communicating with other dogs a challenge?
For instance, young and active dogs could end up harassing more senior dogs so it’s important to set up some means to protect your older dog. This can include anything from setting up a safe space only your older dog has access to, or making sure to supervise all playtime between the two, at least for the initial weeks or months.
#2 First Impressions Matter
A good way to make sure your new pup fits in with your current dogs is to help your new pup make the best first impression they can.
Here are some steps you can take for the very first stage of interaction between your dogs:
Neutral Area – Set up a neutral area for your new and current dog to meet. The general rule of thumb is to avoid areas with too many stimulants like other people or other dogs, and any area your current pup feels they have territorial control over - such as your home or your yard. The best location would be outdoors – especially somewhere you and your current pup typically go for walks!
Assign Someone – On their first meeting, make sure to have both dogs on their leashes.You may want to consider getting a good training leash like EzyDog’s Soft Trainer Dog Leash for your new pup! Then, pair one adult with each dog by getting some help from a family member so you can separate the pups if needed. If you have multiple existing dogs, do this first introduction one at a time.
Keep A Distance – Have your new pup walk a short distance behind your current pup so they can look and smell each without physical contact. When both dogs show signs of cooperation and bonding instead of behaving aggressively against each other – delight them to a high-value treat like The Barkery’s delicious Cheezies Cheese Biscuits!
Rotate Positions – Once your new pup feels comfortable walking behind your current dog, try switching around! Eventually, if both dogs are okay with walking in close proximity, you can try allowing them to walk side by side. If your pups look relaxed and calm walking next to each other, allow both dogs to interact directly, but they must be closely supervised.
Coming Home – When you're at your doorstep, try to get both your pups into the house quickly and prevent them from shoving each other during entry. Then, allow them to interact off-leash, preferably through a tall barrier like Dr. Cage’s Play Pen temporarily. Continue to supervise their behaviour closely – correct them when necessary and reward them with treats for positive interactions!
#3 Setting Up Your Home
Just like with preparing your home for your first pup, it’s also important to prepare a new home base for your new pup.
Here are some important points you may want to consider during your preparation:
Separate Feeding Areas – Distance your new pup’s feeding area from your current pup’s to prevent possible conflict that may arise during meal times. Get your new pup their own food bowl like Hing Design’s Non-Slip Stainless Steel Double Dog Bowl that’s great for puppies! Always supervise meal times during the initial weeks to make sure your pups don’t fight over food. If your dogs do have trouble keeping away from each others’ food bowls during meal times, consider feeding them in separate rooms.
Discourage Possessive Behaviour– If your dog is likely to display possession over certain items that are important to them, such as their favourite toys – keep them away during the initial introduction period! If there is too much clutter around the area, make sure to clean it up so your dogs don’t feel confined.
- Sleeping Arrangements – If your current dog sleeps in your bedroom, do not alter their sleeping arrangements. Instead, decide whether you’ll want your new pup to move into your room as well – preferably somewhere close so that you can monitor their interactions! Help your new pup settle in comfortably by getting them a dog bed of their own like PETKIT’s Memory Foam Cooling Dog Bed and fun toys like KONG’s Quest Foragers Dumbbell Dog Toy to keep your new pup occupied!
#4 Take Things Slow
The steps taken above sound like they could be done in a snap, but you’ll most likely have to take at least a week or two for the initial stages. It may even take months to achieve the level of comfort your pups should have prior to their first face-to-face meeting. In fact, you should take as long as you need to make this transition smooth.
It’s absolutely essential to let your dogs determine the pace at this stage. You don’t want to stress out either dogs, or have them associate the other’s presence with stress and tension.
If your dogs still show aggression towards each other despite a considerable amount of time, consult a professional trainer or animal behaviorist for more assistance. But never force your pups to be together if they’re not comfortable as they could get hurt or hurt each other.
Most of all, your first dog likely has their own established habits so make sure to continue to keep up with that schedule so your current dog doesn’t see your new pup as a disruption to their lifestyle.
#5 Constant Supervision
Throughout this bonding process, make sure that you are always present when all your pups are together, especially in the first weeks or months while you’re still unsure if they are able to stay together without fighting.
Even if your dogs seem like they’ve bonded, they are still learning about each other in many ways and are having to change the way they live to accommodate one another. Which is why it’s normal for your dogs to experience slight disagreements with each other at some point in time so it’s important that they learn how to work with each other.
While it is true that dogs can play rough with each other, they sometimes don’t know the extent of their strength, or they may get too aggressive with each other, so it’s important to prevent these situations from happening.
In fact, allowing your dogs to “fight it out” could lead to them eventually developing a bad relationship. Do not let either dog aggressively bully or fight with the other. If one of your dogs stands down instead of retaliating when your other dog starts to growl, this is a good sign that they are setting boundaries for each other. Avoid punishing them for communicating in this way.
At the end of the day, although having multiple dogs can be exciting and rewarding, it takes a lot of time and effort to not only introduce both dogs to each other, but also to care for both equally. Ultimately, when your dogs do get along, they’ll now have each other as lifelong companions. Nevertheless, don’t forget to spend quality time with your pups!
Tammi writes articles about anything from data analytics to animal health, and loves doing the occasional craft. But most importantly, she loves hanging out and doing photo-shoots with her dog.