Dogs are loving, social creatures who thrive on companionship. Even the most independent canine will benefit from having another dog in his life, whether it’s a furry friend that comes home every day or visits for an hour a day. The tricky part is introducing new dogs to each other so that they get along and become friends instead of enemies. Despite their reputation as natural enemies, many dogs actually love meeting new canines and quickly become buddies. However, some dogs don’t take well to strangers at first. It’s important to introduce new dogs slowly, ensuring they remain comfortable and build positive associations with one another throughout the process. Introducing dogs properly also helps prevent potential negative effects like resource guarding, anxiety, and aggression.
Here are 9 tips for introducing new dogs:
1. Establish rules from the start.
As soon as your dogs are comfortable with each other, begin establishing rules for interactions and feeding times. Dogs who are familiar with each other can be very relaxed around each other, but they can also disrupt each other’s routines if they’re not trained properly. With consistent rules and training, your dogs will grow to love each other even more and live together peacefully! These tips will help you bring new dogs into your home or introduce dogs who have been living together for a while. Bringing new dogs into the home can be a stressful experience for dogs because they don’t know each other and may not know what to expect. If you follow these tips and take your time introducing the dogs, they should feel more comfortable and relaxed with each other in no time.
2. Make sure both dogs are well-fed and comfortable before meeting.
Introducing two hungry dogs who are uncomfortable or in pain is a recipe for disaster. If either dog is in pain or uncomfortable, he’s much more likely to act aggressively or defensively. Likewise, if both dogs are really hungry, they’re likely to become aggressive toward one another when they see the other dog with food. The same goes for dogs who aren’t spayed or neutered. If your dogs aren’t fixed, they’re likely to be aggressive or defensive around each other because they think they’re in competition with one another for mates. If your dogs are in pain or hungry, and they’re not fixed, it’s best to wait until these issues are resolved before meeting.
3. Always have treats on hand to reward good behavior.
Rewarding good behavior from both dogs is a great way to help them learn proper interactions as they get to know each other. Be sure to reward good behavior from each dog and also from each dog and his new friend. This helps reinforce that everyone should be rewarded for good behavior, including the dogs and their owners. Have different kinds of treats on hand, like high-value dog treats, human treats, and toys. Rotating the kinds of things you use as rewards may help your dogs learn that treats = good behavior more quickly.
4. Let the dogs sniff each other from a distance for at least a week.
Letting dogs sniff each other from a distance at first helps them become accustomed to each other’s scents. This helps them feel more comfortable with each other and helps them learn each other’s scents in a non-threatening way. Dogs learn a lot about each other based on scents, especially things like how old each dog is and his health condition. Letting dogs sniff each other from a distance also helps them get to know each other’s personalities. Puppies often don’t have as strong of a scent as adult dogs, so they’ll need to get closer to smell each other properly.
5. Mix up your dog’s routine so they are more responsive to new things.
If your dog is a bit older, try switching up his routine. For instance, if he normally eats in his crate, feed him in the kitchen or living room instead. If he normally goes on a walk in the morning, walk him in the evening instead. If he normally gets let out in the backyard, take him outside on the front porch instead. If your dog lives with another, do the same thing there. Mix up all feeding and walking times, as well as all bathroom breaks. Doing so helps dogs become more responsive to new things, which is especially helpful if you’re bringing a new dog into the home. It also helps dogs who are used to spending time together become more familiar with each other’s scents and patterns of behavior.
6. Don’t force interactions; only allow them when both dogs seem comfortable.
Dogs are individuals, and some will take longer to adjust than others. Give both dogs plenty of space at first, but be sure to let them see and hear each other. For example, let them see each other through a window or have them in separate rooms with a door open in between. You can also allow them to walk near each other on a leash. As long as they’re not barking or lunging, they’re probably comfortable walking near each other. Wait until both dogs appear relaxed before allowing them to actually be in the same room together.
7. Watch for signs of discomfort or aggression.
If your dogs ever show signs of discomfort or aggression toward each other, take action. Don’t stick to a strict schedule if it’s making your dogs uncomfortable. Instead, adjust your routine based on your dogs’ needs and personalities.
8. Use obedience training to help manage any reactivity or aggression.
If your dogs show any signs of reactivity or aggression toward each other, or you see signs of resource guarding between them, start using obedience training to help manage the situation. For dogs who are reactive but not aggressive, start with targeted desensitization training. For dogs who are showing signs of aggression, start with obedience training for aggressive dogs. In both cases, you may also want to seek professional help from a positive trainer.
9. Combine feeding time and walks together.
Mixing up feeding and walking times also help dogs become more responsive to new things. If you feed your dogs together and walk them together, they’ll start to recognize feeding time and walking time as being around the same time every day. This is especially helpful if you’re introducing a new dog into the home. Mix up feeding and walking times so the dogs are conditioned to recognize new patterns of behavior.
Remember: It’s okay if your dogs don’t instantly love each other!
Not all dogs instantly become best friends. If your dogs are ever uncomfortable with each other, don’t force them to spend time together. Let them get comfortable with each other at their own pace, and don’t push them to spend time together until they’re comfortable. If you see that they’re never going to be friends, it’s okay to rehome one of them. Finding a good home for a dog is better than keeping him in an environment where he doesn’t feel safe.
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