Compliments of Operation Kindness For Hernando County Animal Services, Inc.
Introducing Pets to a New Dog
Like most animals who live in groups, dogs establish their own social structure, which serves to maintain order, reduce conflict and promote cooperation among pack members. Dogs also establish territories, which they may defend against intruders or rivals. Obviously, dogs' social and territorial nature affects their behavior whenever a new dog is introduced to the household.
When introducing a new dog, keep these following steps in mind:
Take it Slow Expect that it will take as good 10 days to two weeks for your animals to adjust.
Choose A Neutral Location While on leashes, introduce the dogs in a neutral location so that your resident dog is less likely to view the newcomer as a territorial intruder. If you are adopting your dog from an animal shelter, it is strongly encouraged that a “meet and greet” be held prior to the adoption.
Use Positive Reinforcement From the first meeting,
Help both dogs experience "good things" when they're in each other's presence. Let them sniff each other briefly, which is normal canine greeting behavior. As they do, talk to them in a happy, friendly tone of voice; never use a threatening tone. (Don't allow them to investigate and sniff each other for too long, however, as this may escalate to an aggressive response.) Take the dogs for a walk and let them sniff and investigate each other at intervals. Continue with the "happy talk," food rewards, and simple commands.
Be Aware of Body Postures
One body posture that indicates things are going well is a "play-bow." One dog will crouch with her front legs on the ground and her hind end in the air. This is an invitation to play, and a posture that usually elicits friendly behavior from the other dog. Watch carefully for body postures that indicate an aggressive response, including hair standing up on one dog's back, teeth-baring, deep growls, a stiff-legged gait, or a prolonged stare. If you see such postures, interrupt the interaction immediately by calmly getting each dog interested in something else.
Taking the Dogs Home
When the dogs seem to be tolerating each other's presence without fearful or aggressive responses, and the investigative greeting behaviors have tapered off, you can take them home. Whether you choose to take them in the same vehicle will depend on their size, how well they ride in the car, how trouble-free the initial introduction has been, and how many dogs are involved.
If you have more than one resident dog in your household, it may be best to introduce the resident dogs to the new dog one at a time. Two or more resident dogs may have a tendency to "gang up" on the newcomer. It is important to support the dominant dog in your household, even if that turns out to be the newcomer. This may mean, for example, allowing the dominant dog to claim a favored sleeping spot as his or to have access to a desirable toy. Trying to impose your preference for which dog should be dominant can confuse the dogs and create further problems.
Introducing Puppies to Adult Dogs
Puppies usually pester adult dogs unmercifully. Before the age of four months, puppies may not recognize subtle body postures from adult dogs signaling that they've had enough. Well-socialized adult dogs with good temperaments may set limits with puppies with a warning growl or snarl. These behaviors are normal and should be allowed. Adult dogs who aren't well-socialized, or who have a history of fighting with other dogs, may attempt to set limits with more aggressive behaviors, such as biting, which could harm the puppy. For this reason, a puppy shouldn't be left alone with an adult dog until you're confident the puppy isn't in any danger. Be sure to give the adult dog some quiet time away from the puppy, and some extra individual attention as well.
One Last word of Caution:
As much as we like to give our animals human qualities, we must remember that they are animals. As they are getting to know each other and their respective “pecking order” keep valuable treats away and keep your eyes and ears open, should you have to intervene.
The information contained in this article is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to replace the advice of a trained professional. Always consult a trained professional regarding any behavioral issues or problems with your pets.