Households with a Dog
Welcoming a new dog into a home that already has a resident dog (or dogs!) is exciting but should be handled with care and consideration for each dog in the home.
Dogs are like people. They are drawn to some, while others may take some getting used to, and still others may never get along. Before introducing a new dog into your family, be prepared to accept changes in your current dog. As hard as it may be to watch an animal you thought of as dominant take a lesser position in the household, it is vital that you step back and let the animals determine their social status.
How to Introduce the Dogs
- Feed and exercise both dogs and allow them to go to the bathroom prior to the introduction.
- Start by introducing the dogs outside of the house. Dogs may feel territorial around their home. Pick a neutral, quiet place without toys or treats and space to walk the dogs together.
- Ensure both dogs are leashed and that handlers have a tight grip on the leashes.
- Slowly allow the dogs to approach each other while you watch their body language for signs of stress. (See Translating Canine Body Language.)
- If either dog becomes overly aroused, take the dogs for a walk together until they relax before allowing them to sniff each other or make contact.
- During the walk, allow the dogs to sniff each other for two or three seconds and them encourage them to move on.
- If the dogs seem to enjoy each other, allow longer contact or let them play together.
- Interrupt any signs of aggression with a loud noise or by moving the dogs away from each other by the leashes. Never try to separate the dogs with your hands or by putting your body between them.
- Bring them back to your home. Keep them on the leashes until you are comfortable with their behavior. Make sure there are no toys or treats on the floor.
- It may take several days or even weeks before you’re ready to introduce toys. Move slowly and make sure that the dogs remain on leash and that there are no small children around.
- If you are confident that the dogs are getting along, allow them to be off leash but supervised.
- Increase the time they are together until they are fully trusted to be unleashed together. This may take days, weeks or even months. When you are unable to supervise, keep the dogs separated until you are confident that no harm will be done.
Advantages of a Multiple Dog Household
There are many advantages of having a multiple dog household. Two or more dogs that are compatible can provide exercise for each other. This works best when they are of similar size and activity level and are free of physical problems that could cause pain or irritability.
Two or more dogs can also provide each other with social interaction. This daily contact with their own species tends to keep their ability to communicate with other dogs in good shape. It also keeps away boredom.
Finally, humans who enjoy watching dog behavior will like seeing the dogs interact. Since you also get to see the dog-to-dog relationships develop over time, your understanding of your dogs can grow by watching how they react to each other.