by Kristie Leong M.D., Jan 1, 2008
Introducing a brand new dog into your household when you already have a dog can be tricky. Here's how to make sure the relationship between your two dogs gets started off on the right foot.
Would you like to add a new dog to your home? Introducing a new dog can be tricky when you have another dog at home who's comfortable with his position in the pack. In order to avoid fights and incompatibility issues between the new dog and your established dog, there are certain steps you should take to make the introduction a new dog easier:
Introducing a new dog: Keep in mind the sex of your dogs
As a generalization, a dog will tend to get along better with a dog of the opposite sex. If you're introducing a new dog of the same sex, you may want to consider spaying or neutering the new dog before the introduction. Unfortunately, spaying and neutering may only reduce dominance behavior if the dog is spayed or neutered before a certain age, usually 6-8 months of age. If at all possible before selecting a new dog to bring home, see how the dog interacts with other dogs at the kennel or shelter where he currently resides. If he exhibits strong dominance behavior there, he'll likely display it towards your dog at home.
Introducing a new dog: Allow your dogs to meet on neutral territory initially
Dogs are much less likely to behave in a dominant or aggressive manner if they first meet on neutral territory. Have your dogs meet initially at a local dog park or a fenced in friend's yard. Let them play together and watch how they interact. Praise them both for good behavior.
Introducing a new dog: Keep your tone positive and friendly when the two dogs are together
When the two dogs are interacting in a friendly manner, speak soothingly and positively to them to reinforce their positive interaction. Your goal should be to make both dogs feel good when they're in each others presence.
Introducing a new dog: Give your original dog sufficient attention
When a new dog is introduced into the household, attention can sometimes be directed towards the new family member making your old dog feel left out. Give your original dog the same amount of attention and time that he received prior to the new dog being introduced.
Introducing a new dog: Keep each dog's belongings separate
Don't force the new dog to share a feeding bowl, water bowl, bed, or dog house with your original dog. Make sure each dog has his own supplies. Sharing food and water bowls can create unnecessary friction between the two dogs.
Introducing a new dog: Reinforce the pack order
Allow the dogs to determine their own pack order. Once a pack order has been established, reinforce it as much as possible. The dog higher in the pack should be fed first and given treats before the second dog. Don't adopt a sympathetic demeanor towards the underdog as this can destroy pack unity and potentially cause a dog fight.
Introducing a new dog: Be prepared for skirmishes
When you introduce a new dog into your household, some initial friction is to be expected trance. You can also break up a fight with a bucket of cold water poured on the heads of both dogs.
Bringing a new dog into the household requires a period of adjustment for both humans and animals but with a little patience and caution it can be the beginnings of a wonderful new relationship.
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