How to introduce a second dog into your home

Getting a new dog is a very exciting moment for you and your family. However, it can be tricky to introduce a second dog into your home. You never know exactly how your first dog is going to react – are they going to be welcoming, nervous, jealous, or territorial?

If you take the introductions slowly and follow the tips below, the dogs will have a great chance of coming to terms with each other in a positive way, bonding together as members of the new family pack.

Bring your current dog to meet the new dog beforehand

If possible, let the two dogs meet before you commit to purchasing or adopting the second dog. This might not be possible for new puppies, but should be fine if you are looking at getting an older dog or a rescue dog.

Sometimes, dogs just don’t get along and dislike each other upon sight. Unfortunately, that should be taken as a sign that perhaps this new dog is not the one for you. If your dog isn’t happy with meeting them on neutral territory, chances are they definitely won’t like them moving in to their territory.

Don’t force them together

When you bring the new dog home, they might keep their distance from your existing dog for a while. From the new dog’s perspective, they have just entered a new environment, which may be frightening for them. They might need a little while to adjust and “find their feet”. If they are being cautious around your first dog, don’t “force” them together – allow the new dog to build up his confidence slowly and take things at his own pace. Likewise, don’t be alarmed if they choose to sleep in different places or in different rooms. They’ll learn to come together in time.

Have lots of treats and toys available

To encourage the dogs to play together and to play with you, try introducing some new toys and treats for the first couple of days. Your first dog might not take kindly to a new dog playing with his much loved or favourite toys, so it might be best to remove anything that they usually get possessive over until they are used to the new dog. New toys mean that neither dog already has a “claim” to them, so they are more likely to share from the offset.

Monitor playtime to ensure friendly behaviour

The dogs will be trying to work out which one will be the “leader” of their new pack. This might turn aggressive or territorial, so make sure you monitor them when they are playing to ensure it all stays friendly. If you notice either dog curl their lip, raise their hackles, stand their tail up, or show other signs of negative body language, separate the dogs until they have calmed down. If one dog is being too rough with the other, even in happy/enthusiastic play, distract them and calm them down. The dogs need to learn an appropriate level of play with each other, especially if one is much younger or larger than the other.

Don’t ignore your first dog

It is very easy to overly fuss over the new dog – after all, it’s exciting that you have them and you will be looking forward to getting to know them. However, to avoid jealousy, don’t overlook the first dog. If you give the new dog a treat, give the other one something too. Groom the dogs one after the other. Play with them equally and give them both the same level of fussing.

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