How to Introduce a New Dog to Your Home with Other Dogs

Owning a dog has many benefits, owning multiple dogs has even more benefits. After all, canines are pack animals that thrive on socialization and companionship. When they have a buddy around, they don’t experience loneliness and boredom, and they get more exercise. An extra dog (or two) adds an additional source of joy and another meaningful bond to your life. 

If you properly acclimate your new addition, you can have a happy home where everyone enjoys each other’s company and even shares the couch. Like humans, dogs are socially minded and have their favorites and their foes. To ensure household harmony, this article will give you six steps on how to successfully introduce a new dog into the fold and become best friends with your other pets.  

Assess If Your Current Dog Would Benefit from Another Dog

If you want another dog, you need to get your resident dog’s endorsement first. The way to do this is to observe his wants and needs and take note of his behavior. By understanding his nature, he will let you know if adding another dog is a good thing or not. Ask yourself these questions: Does your current dog display actions that indicate he is not happy being the only tail-wagger in your home? Does he beg to play with other dogs at the local dog park or doggy daycare center, or does he seem uninterested in other dogs? When your dog is at the dog park or daycare center, does he do a perimeter sniff and ignore the play bows from other dogs, or does he engage them? The answers to these questions will inform your decision.  

Think About the Finances and Responsibilities of Raising Multiple Pets

Pets can be a priceless member of the family, but owning a pet, especially multiple pets, can be expensive. In your monthly budget, make sure to factor in costs associated with food, healthcare/medical expenses, and obedience training. To assist with the veterinary expenses, enroll your pet in a dog insurance plan as soon as possible. 

Before you decide on whether to get another dog, be certain that everyone in your household is onboard with the additional work it will bring. Make sure that all family members are willing to participate in a basic dog obedience class and consistently use the same commands and cues to train the dog. These classes are invaluable in teaching your dog the basics and increasing the bond between family members.  

Select A New Dog Based on Compatibility with Your Current Pet

It can be challenging to look beyond the cuteness factor when adopting a new dog. Focus on information available about the dog’s temperament and history. Ask the shelter, foster family, or breeder about his behavior. How does the dog interact when he’s around other dogs? Does he do well with children or is he better as a solitary dog? You want a dog whose personality meshes with your current dog to reduce sparring between dogs for top dog status. 

If possible, when looking at new dogs to add to your home, narrow it down to three top canine contenders. Then, test the compatibility between your current dog and your three favorite potential new dogs. Introduce each dog separately, one at a time. If you own cats, don’t forget to introduce your felines to each dog. The optimal way to do this is to keep the dog on a leash or inside of a crate and let your cat check out the dog on her terms.  

Dog-Proof Your Home Before Your New Canine Arrives

Make sure your home is extra dog-proof before introducing your new friend. Look at each of your rooms and take appropriate safety measures. Place childproof locks on low cabinet doors and place sturdy lids on kitchen trash cans. Remove human medications and small objects off counters and tables to prevent your dog from swallowing and choking on them. Identify all plants and flowers in your home and discard any that are toxic to dogs. In order to prevent canine escapes, make sure your yard is secure. 

Stock Up on Canine Necessities for Both Your Current & New Dogs

Even though you already have the basics for your current pet, it’s important to stock up for anything your new dog may want and need. Your new dog needs toys and products that work his mind as well as his body, such as treat puzzles. Go bowl-free at least once a week and place your dog’s kibble inside a food puzzle. Encourage him to paw and swat at the puzzle to spill out kibble. You can also place treats in the puzzle toy to help your new dog occupy his mind when he is alone at home. Make sure your new dog has a comfy crate where he can feel comfortable staying when no one is home and can retreat to when it’s time to sleep. As your bond strengthens and he becomes better adjusted to his new home, you can decide whether or not to invite him onto your bed to sleep. 

How to Introduce the New Dog to Your Dog

Before bringing the dog home, ask a dog-savvy friend or family member to help you take your dogs on a leashed walk together. Initially, walk side by side with your friend with the dogs away from one another. Walk together for about a block. Then turn around and purposely place the two dogs in the middle so that they can walk next to each other. You and your friend can loosely hold the end of each six-foot leash but should be prepared to quickly restrain the dogs if they growl or lunge at one another. 

If you want to expose the dogs to each other without taking a walk first, avoid having the initial greet-and-sniff inside your home, in your backyard or at your dog’s favorite dog park. This will reduce the chance of your dog seeing the newcomer as a territorial intruder. In the canine world turf matters, so it’s best to select a safe, neutral location. Be alert and carefully watch each dog’s body language to see how they get along. If things are going well, the dogs will go into a play bow (front legs on the ground, head lowered and back end raised high in the air). To create a good mood, speak in an upbeat, friendly tone to both dogs. 

When it comes to owning dogs, more can be merrier. But you need to plan and make sensible decisions to smoothly incorporate a new pup into your current environment.

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