Let’s talk about introducing dogs to each other. Whether you’re inviting a friend’s dog to come play for the afternoon or if you’re ready to add an additional four-legged friend to your family, you’ll want to follow these tips to ensure a successful and safe introduction between new dogs.
It’s best to have any anxious energy or excited energy drained from the dogs prior to introducing them whenever possible. You’re setting yourself up for success by doing this. This will lower the potential for anxious interactions that could lead to potentially aggressive behavior or difficult on-leash behavior between the dogs. The anxious energy from one dog could lead to unmanageable behaviors from another dog during an introduction.
When you’re meeting outside at a park with a friend’s dog or bringing a new dog into the home it’s highly recommended to walk the dogs together. If you’re comfortable doing it it’s a great bonding exercise to walk the new dogs together at a brisk pace. In some situations this could be you walking 2 dogs on 2 separate leashes by yourself or if you’re meeting up with a friend then you can walk the dogs together side-by-side.. Each of you could take turns walking the dogs by switching the leashes. There is a time for a stroll that would allow the dogs to sniff and explore, but getting the dogs to be in a “travel” mode and “following” mode by increasing the pace makes the bonding process happen faster.
If you’re bringing a new dog into your family or a friend is coming over with their dog, it’s a must to initially have the new dog on a leash while introducing the dog to parts of your home with YOU leading. The new dog should not be exploring freely upon first introduction. There is an element of respect or permission on your part that you are giving to the new dog by completing a lap around the house on a leash so that this new dog understands the existing boundaries. For example, if you already have a dog that has a favorite spot on the couch then you want the new dog to respect those boundaries. Your existing pet will feel disrespected by a new dog in the territory and unwelcomed behaviors could follow.
Another good idea includes having your new dog and previous dog on leashes in the home as well so you can take the dogs around together. Have your dog help give the grand tour! All of it is a valuable way to make sure a new dog doesn’t go through and mark (lift his leg to pee anywhere!) anything which would lead to conflict between the new dog and the dog already living there.
Food can be a trigger for possessive behaviors. You may not know the new dog’s personality before introducing food. You want to set the stage before allowing for any escalation of unwanted behaviors. Simply pick up the food bowl for the time being until the introductions are made. Leaving the water dish should usually be okay.
Based on their personality, if the new dog is already being respectful and your dog is going along with it then treats would be appropriate. If there’s some excitement or bickering between the dogs then you can settle them down and then reward the dogs with a treat when you get the behavior that you want.
If your house or apartment is set up in a way that you want to encourage the dogs to stay in a certain room then you’ll want to introduce a treat or toy to that particular area. This will encourage the dogs to understand this is “their spot”.
Your previous dogs may have a kennel or a dog bed that they prefer and you need to make sure the new dog doesn’t claim it. There’s a tendency of a new dog to “claim” things so you want to make sure of that ahead of time. You want to demonstrate to both the new dog and the existing dog that you are guiding the new dog. You, as the authority figure, are making the decisions on what they can and can’t have as well as where they can and where they can’t go. If you don’t do that then it becomes a situation where the new dog thinks they have to set the rules, which is a behavior you don’t want.
Quick tip: This tip will come in handy every single time. Taking that simple walk around with the dogs together in walk mode helps bond them faster than anything else you can do. You can take elements of these suggestions and apply them to meeting your friend at the dog park. All of these tips can be modified to the scenario you are in when it comes time to introducing new dogs to each other.
After years of studying and practicing various training techniques, I came to realize there is no one size fits all method! That’s why we offer our FREE IN-HOME CONSULTATION, so you get to meet your trainer and learn step by step our entire plan to train you and your dog. Each home has different circumstances. We cater to your individualized needs and concerns