How to Introduce a New Dog

Nervous about bringing your new pet home? Don’t be! The video below is a guide to bringing your pet home for the first time.

How to Introduce Dogs

How to introduce dogs

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Bringing a puppy home is an exciting time, but it can be overwhelming for your new dog. Remember, while your dog is new to you, everything is new to them. Be patient and gentle with them, and make introductions slowly and carefully.  Here are some helpful tips to make this transition as smooth as possible for both your dog and your family.

Meeting Your Children

Before introducing your dog to a baby or other children, explain to them that dogs are sensitive, living animals with feelings like theirs. Your dog may feel nervous, just like they feel when meeting someone new, so they need to be careful not to scare them. Explain that they should be very gentle when petting them, and never pull on their tail or ears, grab or hug them or make loud noises around them.

Introduce your children to your new dog gradually in short, supervised sessions. Have them practice giving slow, gentle pets without being too rough or loud. To a small dog or puppy, children can seem large and a little scary. Having your children sit on the floor for the first few play sessions can help small dogs and puppies feel more secure. Involve your children in your dog’s training, and allow them to give your dog treats. This will help your dog make positive associations with your children.

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Meeting Your Other Dog(s)

Adopting a second dog has many benefits. It can help calm down your current dog, give him a companion while you are at work or away from home, and even offer you more protection and make you feel safer. Even though dogs in general like to be part of a pack, sometimes adding a new dog to the family can be difficult.

These five tips could help make the adjustment smoother for you and your dogs.

Tip #1: Have an Extra Set of Hands

Even if your dog is well trained, you can never be too sure how they will react to another dog living in their space. It’s a good idea to have a friend bring their dog over so you can test your dog’s reaction to another dog in the house prior to acquiring another dog of your own. It may work out best if your new dog is the opposite sex of your current dog.

Have the two dogs first meet in a neutral area such as a local park, and have another person that your dog trusts help you with the initial meeting. You should handle your own dog and have the other person handle the new dog. Both dogs should be on a leash and allowed to sniff each other out but you should be able to pull them apart with the leashes if needed.

If the initial meeting goes well, take both dogs for a walk together and reinforce good behavior with treats. You can take them home and let them spend time together outdoors first if possible to prevent marking behavior indoors when they come inside.

Tip #2: Have Separate Spaces for the Dogs for the First Week

It is important to have time for the dogs to be together as well as time for the dogs to be separated. Both dogs need to have some one-on-one time with you, and by separating them for a short period each day, you can bond well with both of them separately.

Take one outside to play and then switch and take the other dog outside. It is also important to feed the dogs separately. Continue to give each dog one-on-one time for the whole first week.

Tip #3: Reward Good Behavior

As your old dog and new dog adjust to each other, be sure to reward positive behavior with treats or extra attention and positive words. Encouraging the positive behaviors that you want your new pair to exhibit can help the dogs get along and bond with each other faster.

Tip #4: Be Patient and Calm

If after a few days (or even a week) your dogs do not seem to be getting along, be patient. If you show signs of being uneasy or worried the dogs may sense that and be on edge themselves. Try to stay calm and patient and work to keep the dogs calm and patient as well.

Try not to change the current dog’s daily routine but have the new dog adjust to your current dog’s routine. Keep in mind that dogs thrive on a consistent structure where they know what is expected of them.

Tip #5: Be Aware

In addition to being patient with both dogs, be aware of what, if anything, is causing the dogs to fight or not get along. Look for body signals from both pets to determine when they are most upset or irritated and what might be triggering the irritation.

For example, if food causes problems, consider putting one dog outside while you feed the other or put them in separate rooms to eat. Try to eliminate situations that get either dog too excited or irritated until they start showing signs of bonding and getting along with each other.

Adopting another dog can seem a bit overwhelming at first, but if you follow these five tips, you will likely help your dogs bond and become lifelong buddies.

Meeting Your Cat(s)

In order to introduce a dog to a cat, allow them to first see each other while being separated by a baby gate or glass door. When you put them together for the first time, prevent your dog from chasing and scaring your cat. Either keep them on a leash, or keep the baby gate or another barricade in the doorway, so your cat can run away without being chased. Even after they get to know each other, make sure your cat has access to vertical space so they can easily get up and away if they want to while still being able to see the dog.

This is a stressful situation for your other pets too, so be sure to give them some extra one-on-one time with you. And, do not leave them unsupervised with your new dog until you’re certain that they are comfortable with each other. It may take some time, but they will get used to each other and hopefully become friends.

Meeting Visitors

Meeting new people is important for your dog’s socialization, so give them many opportunities. When introducing your dog to a new person, keep them on their leash and tell them to sit. Don’t let them jump up on the person. Once they sit, invite the person to pet the dog, and give them lots of praise. Again, if they show any signs of being uncomfortable, move them away and try again another time.

A new home and a new family is a big change for your dog. They may be hesitant at first, but when given time, space and comfort, most dogs will adjust and blossom into wonderful family members to be loved for years to come.