Americans love their pets, and statistics show that at least 40% of households have more than one dog. Since most people don’t buy their pets at the same time, families getting a second dog must introduce the new addition to the rest of their dog family. Learning how to introduce dogs to each other is important in having a peaceful household.
Bringing a new dog into the existing pack does not mean chaos needs to follow. Whether human friends are moving in together with dogs, dating, or just adding another pet to the family, there are several steps to make it a smooth transition.
Introducing a new pet to your household is an exciting venture for its humans, but can be a daunting experience for the family’s existing furry friend and the newcomer. Be prepared, because presenting the two dogs often takes longer than expected. You might even need professional help. Keep reading to learn how to introduce dogs to each other.
Plan the Meeting Properly to Introduce Dogs To Each Other
Many people don’t realize that dogs cannot be introduced to each other by just placing them in the same space together in the territory of one of the dogs. It is natural for dogs to assert ownership by defending their territory. Your dog might become fearful or submissive, but then again, there could be a huge fight.
One of the first rules for introducing dogs to each other is to do it on neutral territory. You cannot do this on your own, so get somebody who knows your current dog well, to help you.
The protocol is to let the dogs meet on neutral territory first, followed by a long walk together until they get used to each other. When they come home, the humans enter first, they are followed by the dogs that live there, and last, the new dog follows.
By walking the dogs together, you are allowing them to first bond as a pack. The new dog then enters the home by following the dog currently living there. This method ensures the older dog doesn’t end up feeling as if his territory has suddenly been invaded.
What do you need to introduce dogs to each other?
Bringing dogs together will require that you follow the following rules:
- Use a calm and happy voice.
- Maintain control of the leash, but never hold the dog too tightly.
- You want to encourage a positive relationship between the two dogs, so don’t punish your dog for barking at the new pack member.
- There must be one person for each dog, and make sure the person with your older dog is familiar to him.
- Go to a neutral area for both dogs, you don’t want any territorial behavioral flare-ups.
- Allow plenty of distance between the dogs.
- Bring some delicious treats for encouragement.
How to walk the dogs?
- The walk must always start on neutral territory where both dogs have never been before. The area must have plenty of space. This can either be a park, an open field, or a quiet street.
- Each dog is on a leash and held by the person responsible for it. The handlers must have a loose grip on the leashes and a calm demeanor.
- Starting on opposite sides of the chosen space, you both walk in the same direction. Whichever dog looks at the other one, gets a treat.
- Both of you keep walking until the dogs are no longer focused on each other.
- Repeat the same walk and reward method, but moving about 3-5 feet closer.
- Continue walking if the dogs are still paying more attention to you than to each other. If you notice the dogs become too focused on each other, add more distance again. The idea is to walk and give treats, and to avoid head-on meetings, but let them get used to each other.
- Continue decreasing the distance until both humans can walk next to each other with the dogs to the far right and left of them. The idea is to move forward without each dog obsessing over the other one. Reaching this point can take quite a few attempts.
- You can trade places with the other team to let the dogs sniff where the other dog walked and to investigate their potty spots.
- Once everyone is walking well consistently, allow the dogs to circle and sniff each other for a few seconds before leading them away. Repeat this several times.
- When the dogs’ bodies go still, lead them away, giving everyone a break.
- After several meetings where the dogs’ bodies are still and relaxed, leave the two dogs loose in a fenced area where they can move around at will.
Establishing a Hierarchy
Dogs cannot be forced into a hierarchy. Once they become a pack, you must accept that this is a natural process that they establish themselves. After a while, you may notice that the dogs may have an equal role, or one is more dominant than the other. Don’t try and force a more submissive dog into a dominant position – even if it’s your first dog and you believe this must be his position. Forcing a dog in a hierarchical position can lead to it becoming insecure and anxious.
How To Prevent a Dog Fight Turning Ugly?
If you do accidentally introduce dogs to each other too quickly, one fight may not be as disastrous as your reaction. Inevitably, even dogs that have lived together for a long time may squabble over territorial disputes, toys, etc.
Unless the dogs are fighting aggressively, there is no need to break up small fights immediately. This is because dogs use small fights, snapping, and herding to establish their hierarchy. Use your instincts when there is an aggressive fight to calmly break it up as quickly as possible. Make the dogs aware that fighting is not allowed without shouting at them, otherwise, you may increase their aggression. Remain calm and use touch or an upward pull to separate them.
Strong pack order is essential in preventing fights among your dogs. The only way to do this is to get your dogs to see you as their leader to prevent competition among them. Do this by establishing rules, boundaries, and limitations.
Dogs need to feel that they are working toward a common goal. Once they are used to each other, always walk them together, side-by-side, allowing them to understand that they are not against each other. Always watch for positive (waggy tails) or aggressive (tense posture, hard stares, and lowered tail) body language.
Never isolate dogs after a fight. Dogs naturally fight over territory, and isolation creates a further source of conflict. Socialization is the most important way to ensure well-balanced dogs.
Some useful tips for how to introduce dogs to each other
Even though the best circumstance for introductions is walking the dogs, these are not always possible. Here are some useful tips for home introductions:
- First, do an outdoor introduction before bringing the two dogs into the house together.
- Always leave the leashes on the dogs, allowing you better control if needed.
- Remember to remove your resident dog’s bones, toys, and food bowls before the introduction otherwise, he will feel the need to protect these from the new dog.
- If you need to leave home, separate the dogs while you are away. Only leave them together once they are completely comfortable with each other.
- Always supervise their interaction when you are at home. Remember, they need breaks from each other. Crating them or walking them separately is a good way to do this.
- If there is an altercation, separate the dogs for a few days. This gives them a break from each other and allows their stress hormones to return to normal otherwise, the fighting might get worse. After a few days, start working on creating a positive relationship again.
- The Animal Humane Society warns that as dogs become more comfortable with each other, it is normal for some mild aggression to occur. Don’t start fretting, just separate them and start over. If you feel you aren’t winning, get some professional help.
Whatever way you choose to introduce dogs to each other is fine. Just remember that while you are gone, the chances of a dog fight are greater. Crate the dogs, or if the older dog is used to being free, you can crate the new one in an area where he cannot be taunted.
Feeding can easily become an issue with dogs. Until you recognize which one is the alpha dog, prefer feeding them separately. Once the hierarchy is established, always keep the order by feeding the alpha dog first, giving him treats first, and letting him out the door first.
Finally, don’t change the sleeping arrangements of the first dog. However, you must get both dogs used to the new sleeping arrangements. Crate the new dog in the beginning until it is housebroken.
If your older dog sleeps on the bed with you, it’s probably best to leave the arrangement as is. Don’t let the new dog on the bed from the start because it may stress your older pet.
Your hard work and patience will pay off sooner or later. The first steps to introducing dogs to each other are as essential as dog grooming is for them. Dogs are happier when they are clean and pampered. Find pet grooming services near you here: https://www.petgroomerfinder.com/