August 3, 2021
Introducing Another Dog To Your Home: How To Prepare And Do It Successfully
You’ve crunched the numbers, got the blessing of your dog (or reached a tentative agreement with your cat), found the perfect candidate at your local shelter, or decided on a reputable breeder, and now it’s official. You’re ready to introduce a new four-legged family member into your home.
Bringing a new dog into your home is a big deal! But, before you get too excited imagining the prospect of your new pup becoming best friends with the dog you already have at home or cuddling up and sharing naps with your cat, you’ll have to consider the best way to introduce them to your home.
Compatibility Is Key
The first thing you’ll want to do when bringing a new dog home is to make sure that their personality and general needs will be conducive to your lifestyle and complement the pets you currently have.
If your family is active and always on the go with activities like hiking, swimming, or camping, you could wear out a low-energy dog like an English Bulldog. Conversely, if you’re busy and don’t have time for several hours of exercise a day, the infinite energy of a Border Collie would probably be a poor match.
A new puppy may not pair well with an older dog or cat, and a high-energy Husky may not be the best pairing with your mellow Mastiff. It’s important to consider gender as well. Opposite sex dogs are most likely to get along with limited issues, and having two males is probably a safer bet than having two females. While breed and gender don’t always dictate personality, it’s usually a good indicator of what you can expect.
Preparing Your Home
Before your new pup arrives, you’ll want to get your home ready. It’s always best to buy new everything for your new dog to avoid any dominance struggles over your current dog’s favorite toys, beds, or bowls. Make sure to double-check your supplies with a checklist to avoid any potential headaches.
Once you have your supplies ready temporarily rearrange your home to make it conducive to the introductory process. The first day your new dog enters your space, you’ll want to be prepared to keep it separate from any other animals for at least 24-48 hours. Move your current dog or cat’s essential items to a defined space, or, if all those items are already in a defined space, restrict access to that area. Keep your new dog near you during their first couple of days with you; consider keeping them on a leash until they get used to the day-to-day of your family and home.
Dog Meet Dog
After a couple of days, if both of your dogs seem calm, it’s time to introduce them face-to-face! You’ll want to move slowly with this process to ensure success. The first meeting should be outdoors on neutral ground, with the help of a second person, and ideally on a walk.
Walk the dogs in the same direction while maintaining a safe distance of 30-40 feet. After 10-15 minutes, find an open area and slowly allow the dogs to move closer to each other while on leash. Monitor the body language of each dog and be prepared to separate them at the first sign of aggression.
If the meeting goes positively, allow your dogs to play for a few minutes. Be sure to end the interaction while things are still going well, this will help both dogs associate the other with only positive experiences. When you return home, pick up all toys, food bowls, and beds. Allow both dogs to explore the entirety of your home and get used to the other’s scent
Dog Meet Cat
As with another dog, you’ll want to ensure your cat has a safe, separate space with all essential items for the first 24-48 hours that your new dog is in the home. Leash your dog and allow your cat to roam the house, investigating your new pup’s bowls, toys, bed, or any other items. Make sure to provide your dog rewards and praise if they are remaining calm. Perform these interactions intermittently throughout the first few days your pets are together, always keeping them short. Here are a few introduction methods to consider when assimilating your new dog into your cat’s home.
Take It Slow
Even after a successful introduction to your other pets, you’ll want to continue to take it easy on your new pup. Entering a new home is incredibly stressful for a dog, and they can quickly regress or become anxious if they aren’t allowed a smooth transition. This also applies to pets that are already in your house. Keep interactions positive and provide space and time away from each other when necessary. Keep an eye out for signs of aggression or resource guarding, and make sure to address them immediately if they arise.
Adding a new dog to your pack is one of the most exciting things you can do, but you’ll want to ensure you are doing it appropriately and keeping your pet’s perspectives in mind. Welcoming a new pet can be stressful for your four-legged family members, so take it slow to ensure a smooth transition.