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  • Writer's pictureSierra Combs

How to introduce a new dog into your multidog household?

Adding a new dog to the family is an exciting time, but it can also create stress for the other animals in the home.

Set reasonable goals when you bring a new dog into your home. Knowing your older dog's background will help you manage what might happen. This should not be your current dog's first meeting with another dog. Preparation in advance is a must by letting your dog have interactions with dogs of various ages, sizes, temperaments, and breeds well before you ever decide to add a 2nd dog to your home.

Remember and respect that your current dog may perceive the new dog as encroaching on their established territory, which can be very stressful.

Introduce dogs in a Neutral Location.

Introduce the dogs in a neutral location that is unfamiliar to both dogs, such as a park, sidewalk, or area your current dog doesn't frequent enough to consider their territory.

Both dogs should be on a leash and stay calm.

Don’t force interaction between the dogs. A walk together is a good idea to start, and if they ignore each other, that is fine. You can stop, let them sniff each other, and continue walking a few times during the introduction.

At the first meeting, toys, treats, bones, or anything that can be considered a possession should be removed from the environment.

You want the dogs to stay calm and relaxed. The goal is a positive stress-free introduction.

In the home

To prevent fights over prized possessions, pick up all toys, food bowls, beds, and the like before bringing the new puppy into the house. In a few weeks, you can return your current dog’s toys to him and give the new puppy some new toys of their own. In the meantime, give the dogs toys only when they are in separate areas or their crates.

Feeding in a multi-dog household should always be done in separate rooms or crates. Dogs should never be fed together. It is ideal to prepare your current dog for this well before you add a 2nd. If your dog is used to eating in the kitchen out of a bowl start feeding them in the crate well before you add another dog. Feeding dogs together is asking for trouble to start.

Respect the adult dog’s need for puppy-free quiet time, and be sure to spend one-on-one time with them as well. Be sure to give them a way to escape the puppy anytime they may feel overwhelmed.

Puppies may not pick up on an adult dog’s body language that says they have had enough. A well-socialized adult dog may growl to tell the pup to back off, which is appropriate behavior that helps the puppy learn boundaries. If you hear this, remove the puppy and give the dog some quiet time.

Give your puppy an exercise pen for unsupervised play in a safe and secure location away from the older dog when you cannot supervise interactions. This will allow the older dog to get accustomed to the puppy without the puppy actually being able to bother them. Your older dog can see, hear and smell the puppy through the exercise pen but still be free from the puppy bothering them.

Never leave an adult dog and a puppy unsupervised.

Spend time training each individually.

Crate them next to each other at night so they can get accustomed to one another in a safe location.

Lastly, time! Do not expect your new puppy and older dog to be best friends right away. Not only does it take time for them to adjust to each other it takes new dogs around 4 weeks to adjust to their new environment let alone become best friends with your current dog.

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