How Do I Introduce My Old Dog to My New Dog?
By: Jeff Noce, Voyce President
Every week, I invite Voyce blog readers to submit any questions or comments they have about health or behavioral concerns. Because of the great response, each month I address at least one question in more detail.
If you have a question or topic you’d like me to cover, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
My dog loves being around other dogs so I’m thinking about adopting a second dog to keep her company. What are the kinds of things I need to know and consider before signing the adoption paperwork?
Bringing home a second pet is a big decision, but an exciting one! You’re smart to think ahead when it comes to choosing and integrating the new addition into your family. Putting a plan in place before bringing them home will help the transition go smoothly for you, your new pet and your resident pet.
The first thing you should ask yourself, of course, is whether your current dog will truly welcome a companion. Although she may have fun playing with others at the dog park, is she willing to share her home, her toys and her people on an everyday basis? Some dogs really do prefer being an “only child.”
If you feel confident your dog would enjoy a new friend, look for an animal whose personality would likely mesh well with hers. For example, if your dog is a low-key couch potato, try to steer clear of animals who are high energy and “in your face.”
The next step, of course, is the meet-and-greet. If you are adopting from a rescue, shelter or reputable breeder, they will most likely encourage or require you to let the two animals meet in a controlled environment to observe their reactions. This is an important step and should not be skipped if at all possible. Loose, friendly body language is best but it’s okay if they ignore each other, too. If they’re openly hostile, it might be a good idea to look for another candidate.
When you’ve finalized your decision and are ready to bring your new family member home, arrange to take the dogs on a long walk together before you enter your house. Even the most dog-friendly pup can become territorial when a new dog enters “their” space. Enlist a friend or family member to walk one dog while you walk the other. Let them sniff and get to know each other, then go into the house together.
At this point, you’ve already come a long way toward laying the foundation for a solid relationship between your dogs. Now it’s just a matter of managing the situation and keeping it positive for everyone.
In the “getting to know you” stage, remove anything that could potentially cause resource guarding behavior, like favorite toys or chews. Feed them in separate rooms at first and don’t allow them to approach each other during mealtimes.
Although it’s tempting to lavish a lot of attention on your new pet, make a point of dividing your time equally so that your first dog doesn’t feel jealous or left out.
Finally, don’t leave them alone together for long stretches until you’re absolutely certain about the nature of their relationship. Dogs that don’t know each other well can have misunderstandings that can escalate if you’re not around to intervene.
At first glance, it may seem like a lot of work. But taking the proper steps now can help ensure you’ll have one big happy family for years to come.