Adding a new dog to your home can be an exciting and joyous occasion. However, it’s essential to ensure a smooth introduction to any existing dogs in the household. If done incorrectly, it can cause stress and anxiety for both animals and lead to conflict between them.
Taking the time to properly introduce a new dog to an older one will help create an environment in which both dogs can feel comfortable and safe.
A bad experience during this initial phase when bringing home a new dog can make it incredibly difficult for a dog to fit into their new home. Too many dogs already are rehomed or returned to rescues – as responsible dog owners, we should be doing everything we can to set our dogs up for success. This is true whether you’re bringing home a new puppy in New South Wales or breeding working dogs in Victoria.
Let’s examine why it’s crucial to properly introduce a new dog to any existing household dogs and go through a detailed, step-by-step guide for successful canine introductions.
The Importance of Proper Introductions
Preventing stress and anxiety – Introducing a new dog to existing dogs without proper preparation can lead to stress and anxiety for both parties. This can result in adverse behaviours such as destructive chewing, excessive barking or toileting mistakes.
Reducing territorial disputes – Dogs are territorial animals, and bringing a new dog into an existing dog’s territory may trigger defensive or aggressive behaviours. Proper introductions can help to reduce territorial disputes and establish a more harmonious environment.
Establishing a hierarchy – Dogs are pack animals, and a social hierarchy is a natural part of their lives. Proper introductions can help to establish a healthy hierarchy between the dogs, minimising the risk of power struggles and aggression.
Preventing aggression – A poorly executed introduction can lead to fear, anxiety and aggression between dogs. Taking the time to properly introduce the dogs can help prevent such negative behaviours and ensure a peaceful coexistence.
Strengthening the bond between dogs – A successful introduction can pave the way for a strong and lasting bond between dogs, which can not only enhance their overall quality of life, but also result in better health for both of them.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Proper Canine Introductions
Before introducing the new dog to your existing dog(s), ensure that both parties are up-to-date on vaccinations, spayed or neutered, and have a clean bill of health. This will help to minimise any health-related complications during the introduction process.
Create separate spaces in your home for each dog. Providing them with their own area of space helps to reduce territorial behaviour and allows them to become familiar with each other’s scent without feeling like they are competing for resources or attention. This separation will ideally take place for around one week before introducing the two dogs face-to-face.
Choose a neutral location, such as a common area of the house or an outdoor space, for the initial introduction. This will reduce the likelihood of territorial disputes and help to create a more relaxed atmosphere.
Begin by having both dogs on leashes, with each handler walking their dog parallel to the other at a safe distance. This allows the dogs to observe each other without direct interaction, which can help to reduce tension.
Slowly decrease the distance between the dogs, allowing them to sniff and investigate each other from a safe and controlled distance. Pay close attention to their body language, looking for signs of relaxation or tension. If either dog displays aggressive or fearful behaviour, increase the distance and try again once they’re both calm.
Experienced dog photographers often suggest that taking a gradual and relaxed approach to their sessions produces the best results and that if they try to rush things, especially with an aggressive or fearful dog they won’t get the relaxed and soulful pet photos they’re aiming for.
If both dogs appear relaxed and interested in each other, proceed to off-leash interaction in a secure, neutral area. Remove the leashes but continue to closely monitor their body language and behaviour.
During initial meetings, it is important that each dog is able to move away from the other if needed without fear of being chased or attacked. It may take several days or even weeks for a complete bond between the two dogs to form, but patience is key during this process. Introducing a new dog into your home should never be rushed! Remember that introducing a dog to a cat is an entirely different affair altogether, and has its own challenges – but it can be done, depending on the dog breed.
Guest blog from petsforhomes.com.au. whose mission is to connect pet lovers with responsible breeders & rescues nationwide.