The biggest difficulty of introducing a new dog to the family is acclimating them to the other dogs. To keep the peace and bring your four-legged friends together you’ll need to plan ahead when adopting a second dog.
By adding a new dog to the family you, your current dog (or dogs), and the rest of your family will gain an additional companion. While building this new family won’t be easy there’s hope. Dog owners can usually tell if a new addition is a good match for the family within the first two minutes of meeting each other. If the initial spark is there, experts estimate that it can take up to four weeks for dogs to warm up to each other.
Here are a few Mindful Animal® tips to help your pets embrace the new family member:
- Pick the right pet. Be sure that you’re picking a new pet that’ll best fit your current dog’s personality. Find a dog that compliments your dog’s (or dogs’) personality, play style, socialization level, and training.
- Meet on neutral ground. If the initial meeting is held outside the home your dog won’t feel like the new addition is an intruder. Try a local dog park instead. Keep toys and other treats away from them in the beginning so they won’t compete with each other.
- Start small. Keep them on their collars and leashes and let them get accustomed to each other. Let them sniff each other, play with each other or take them for a walk.
- Be mindful of their behavior. Things are going well if the dogs have relaxed or bouncy body movements and wagging tails. Beware of fearful/ defensive body language like flat ears and grumpy expressions or growls, bearing teeth, and stiff movements. If the dogs display this behavior you may want to rethink the pairing.
- Give them their space. When you bring your dogs home, be sure to give them space. Give each dog their own food and water bowl, as well as their own eating space. They’ll also need their own bed and sleeping space.
Bonus tips (puppies): Puppies easily adapt to new families because they are keen to learn. However, they can be tiring for older dogs. So, for the safety of both pets, never leave a new puppy alone with an adult dog. And be sure to give the older dog lots of personal attention.
Bonus tips (two or more dogs): If you have more than one dog the same steps apply; however, introduce the dogs to the new addition in shifts, never all at once. Note how each dog interacts with the new pup. Then, later on, you can bring them all together.
How will you know if the dogs are getting along? Over time there should be “fewer grumpy moments, frequent play or interaction, and mutual grooming or cuddling.” If you’re still experiencing problems consider seeking guidance from a local professional dog trainer.