How to Introduce a New Dog to Your Home
Getting a new dog can be such an exciting time for you and your family. It can also bring your current dog more fun and companionship. However, your current dog may feel like their space is being invaded. We all know how important first impressions are, and the same goes for animals. Here are some tips to make that first impression go smoothly:
• When you pick up the new dog, leave the other dog at home. It’s not safe to put the two of them in the car together just yet.
• It’s very important to introduce your dogs on neutral territory. You can go on a short walk through your neighborhood, in a neighboring park or in a friend’s yard. It is best to have two people, one to handle each dog, while keeping the dogs on leashes.
• To reduce any tension, keep the dogs’ leashes loose so they’re not choking or feeling pressure on their throats.
• Don’t force interaction between the two dogs if they are not interested in each other at first. Give both dogs time to get comfortable.
• Make the introduction positive and light-hearted. As the dogs start to get acquainted, encourage them in a happy tone.
• When they first meet, allow just a few seconds of sniffing. Then lightly pull the dogs away from each other and walk around for a bit. After a couple minutes, you can bring the dogs back together and allow another several seconds of sniffing. These short greetings help keep the dogs’ interactions calm and prevent the chance of aggression.
• Watch the dogs’ body language. Their body language can let you know if things are going smoothly. Relaxed muscles, relaxed open mouths, and play bows (when a dog puts his elbows on the ground and his hind end in the air) are all positive body language signs. However, if you see stiff, slow body movements, tensed mouths or teeth-baring, quickly lead the dogs apart to give them more distance from each other.
• If a fight breaks out, DO NOT let them “fight it out.” You may have heard this popular advice, but letting the dogs fight can set the tone for a bad relationship. Interrupt and separate the dogs if they begin to fight. It is always better to interrupt fighting so they don’t develop a pattern of aggressive behavior.
• Once the dogs’ greeting behaviors have stopped and they appear to be tolerating each other without fearful or threatening behavior, you’re ready to take them home. Before you take them inside your home, walk them together around your house.
• Be patient. It will take time for your dogs to build a comfortable relationship. But if you make the transition smooth for them, they will be best friends in the blink of an eye.