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How to Introduce a New Dog to Your Dog

How to help dog guests and new adoptees get off to a good start with your resident dog.

By
Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA,
November 3, 2009
Episode #035

Last week, I suggested some ways to handle dog-dog introductions that can help dogs make friends right off the bat. But dogs who get along splendidly on hikes or in neutral territory like a park may still rub each other the wrong way when one enters the other’s home. This week, how to orchestrate low-conflict home visits and new adoptions.

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How to Introduce a New Dog to Your Dog

Most dogs can share a home comfortably with a canine guest or housemate. Like any social animals sharing space, they’ll have their tiffs. Dogalini’s got a bone and Fidette tries to take it away, so Dogalini snarls. Or Pumpkin gets hyperexcited when the humans come home and bodyslams Bowser right in his bad hip, so he snaps at her. Most of the time, though, most guest and housemate dogs can enjoy a relaxed and friendly relationship. If they’re young and have compatible play styles, they may wrestle or chase each other for a good chunk of every day.

Still, bringing home a new canine guest or roommate can set off a spat. The factors at work here include territory, enclosed spaces, a high pitch of excitement and stress, and unfamiliarity. Last week I explained how to set dogs up for a friendly relationship outside the home. Once you’ve done that, of course, you’ve taken care of the “Uh-oh, a stranger!” unfamiliarity problem. Now let’s tackle the other three.

Problem #1: Excitement and Stress

By introducing the dogs off territory and giving them time to make friends, you’ve already done a lot to diminish stress. General excitement, though, can also spiral out of control and into aggression, as anybody who’s been to a playground knows. The toddlers are all having a high-pitched blast right up until Jenny hits Johnny, and then everybody’s in tears.

As for Dogalini and Newby, plan a long walk or play session before you bring Newby over, and they’ll have less energy with which to get amped. Like toddlers, dogs can get over-tired, so no need to drive them to collapse.

Teaching your dogs certain behaviors can also help you keep the party under control. For example, if both dogs will sit or lie down and stay on cue, you can use the sit or down to give them a breather if the action starts to crank too high. You may well not need this option, and of course you may not have it if Newby is a shelter dog or if you’ve been slacking off with your own Dogalini’s training.

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