Introducing your dog to a new dog can feel like a nerve-wracking experience. Bringing home a new dog is exciting and is often a great opportunity for your dog to have a canine companion and friend – someone to play with while you are away. But, your dog may be a little less than receptive to the idea of a new member of the pack. Fortunately, there are a variety of steps you can take to help improve the chances of your current dog accepting and liking your new dog.
Dogs like to establish territories and your home is their territory. Also, dogs are frequently very protective of their “family.” If you are bringing a new dog home to live with you, this can be quite startling for your current dog. It may be ideal to meet on neutral ground so that your dog does not feel overly protective or aggressive towards your new dog. Meet at a park that your dog is unfamiliar with and help introduce the dogs to each other in a calm and happy way. Watch for signs of aggression or agitation and if you see any signs immediately separate the two dogs. Allow the dogs to investigate and sniff each other briefly and then present them each with a treat at the same time for a positive interaction. Next, take your dogs on a walk together. Allow them to periodically sniff and investigate each other but never for prolonged periods of time. As they familiarize with each other, they may even become playful.
Once the two dogs appear comfortable around each other it is time to take them home. Present each dog with a new toy and show them where they will sleep. Give them each their own separate place to sleep at first so that they do not feel territorial or threatened. Allow your new dog to explore your home without your first dog so that they feel comfortable to learn all about their new home. Once the new dog has explored their new home, put them in their crate or in the laundry room and have some uninterrupted time with your first dog. Now it is time to allow your dogs some time to get to know each other in their new environment. Let them interact and play with some freedom so that they can figure out their own relationship dynamic. As long as interactions are positive, you can reward them for their good behavior. If they show signs of aggression, separate them immediately and allow them some time to cool down. Dogs that live together, just like humans, may have their disagreements or fights from time to time, but when introduced properly, they could have their new best friend in each other!