Bringing Home a New Dog or Puppy – Introductions to Resident Dogs

Jun 28, 2018

Proper introductions of your new dog to your current dog is oh so important. This includes any dog you are bringing into your home including a dog you may be dog sitting for a friend or a puppy that you are fostering for a rescue. The goal of proper introductions is to keep the peace and keep everyone safe which will go a long way towards facilitating a positive relationship between the dogs.

While we may have good reasons for bringing a new dog into our homes, it is often not something your dog has at the top of his wish list. Routines are in place, current relationships have all been developed; all is right in the world. Then we bring a complete stranger dog into our home. This can be upsetting to some dogs.

Sad to say not all of our dogs are saavy about or comfortable with meeting new dogs. And even if they are, care must still be taken to be sure everything goes well. You’ve probably heard it before; dogs should be introduced on neutral territory. This is a big help but there are other things we need to do as well. Be sure the dogs are exercised beforehand and feeling relaxed. The best place for introductions is a large fenced area (not your backyard though).

Photo by For Chen on Unsplash

If not available a friend’s open basement that is free of furniture will do. Have the dogs on leash at opposite ends. If they are displaying relaxed body language: open relaxed mouths, loose, wiggly bodies, relaxed tail set you can then move closer. Once you get to about 10 feet and their body language is still giving the go ahead, drop the leashes and allow the dogs to interact. Keep the leashes on so you can separate the dogs if necessary.

Walking the dogs parallel to each other with the humans on the inside and the dogs on the outside so they have greater distance between them is another option if no fenced area is available. Walk far enough apart so that the dogs are comfortable. As their comfort level grows move one dog to the inside so we have human, dog, human, dog. As the dogs are showing more comfort, move a little closer.

When you are ready for the dog’s to meet it is vital that each dog is on a slack leash. No tension, no holding the dogs back. A tight leash will increase the tension between the dogs. By being restricted with a tight leash the dogs feel confined and a dispute can quickly occur. Be careful to not allow the dogs’ leashes to become tangled. When you allow the dogs to greet you will be counting to 3 and on 3 you will happily call the dogs away from each other. Take a little break and then allow the dogs to interact and again count to 3 and happily call the dogs away from each other. By keeping the interactions short you are not allowing the dogs to build tension.

It is vital throughout this process to watch your dog’s body language. This will tell you how your dog is feeling about the other dog. I’ll cover body language in another blog post.

Once the dogs are comfortable with each other walk them home to your yard and allow them to interact there.

Bringing them inside should also be done very carefully. Inside quarters are closer, and space tighter leading to more tension. It is a good idea to keep the new dog separate for a couple of days inside the house. Gated off in a mudroom or in the hallway are good choices. If crated be sure the other dog cannot get to the crate and harass the crated dog. Rotate the dogs so they each have free time. If it is a puppy an exercise pen will work great. This will allow the dogs to acclimate to each other’s presence. Always be sure to give your resident dog much needed attention during this time.

By staying calm and taking your time with introductions you will help the process to go smoothly thereby keeping everyone safe and facilitating a positive relationship between the dogs.