So you've decided to take the exciting plunge and add another furry family member to the mix. Congratulations! Except there's one issue, there's already one member of the family that may not be so excited to see another dog march into their home. That's ok, and a natural response for many dogs.
Besides feelings of jealousy that anyone would feel when adding another member of the family, there could be issues of resource guarding, aggression and other things that could make a new pets transition not so smooth. This article will help guide you through the transition of adding a new pet to the house that already has one.
1. The initial introduction
This is perhaps the most vital part of the whole process. Doing this right will make the following steps far easier. The most important part of the initial introduction is to do it on neutral ground. Don't just bring the new dog into the house and hope for the best. This can lead the first dog to be territorial and start the relationship off on a very wrong foot. Keep the dogs leashed, and let them meet in a park or somewhere that dog 1 won't feel as though they're being intruded on. Also, keep the meeting brief, they'll have plenty of time to get to know each other later. But initially, keep the meeting brief and praise positive behavior as much as possible.
2. Bringing the New Dog Home
Ok, the initial meeting went well. Great! Now what, well, it's time to bring the new dog home. If you have a backyard or other kind of open space, it's best to let them interact together in the yard, and ease the old dog into the idea of sharing what were before private spaces, with the new pet. IT's important you know the signs of your dog feeling at ease or pressured. We'll dive into that next.
3. What to Look for During the Initial Meeting
There's a few signs you can look for to get an idea of how the interaction is going. If the dog's are wagging their tails, play bowing, exhibiting relaxed body language or even ignoring each other, these are good signs. These are signs that the dogs are relaxed and at ease in their environment with each other.
If they are showing their teeth, growling, or avoiding each other by running away or anything of that sort, there are some issues. Generally you want the dogs to be relaxed around each other, and hopefully even a little but curious to get to know their new roommates!
It's also ok if they just bark at each other. Allow the two dogs to vocalize. Allow them to work out their issues in dog language. Don't discourage barking, it's totally natural and it allows them get to know each other. Even if it is a bit noisy, it should help with their adjustment to just let it out. This is a natural behavior and not one you should feel the need to discourage.
4. Moving Forward
Ok, the dogs have been introduced, slowly, and they seem to be getting on. Now it's about helping them adjust to living together. It's important that the dogs have space. Designate safe areas where the dogs can go and be on their own and cool down for a little if things get heated. It's important they feel they have a private kingdom where they are still totally in control.
It's also important early on the dogs don't feel like they're being forced to share. Let them have their own bowls, beds, toys and anything else. This is important for helping the dogs feel like they aren't competing, and can avoid the issue of resource guarding which can lead to aggression and other unwanted issues.
Things that can be done together such as walks are important bonding times for the new dogs. It allows them to get to know each other in a non threatening environment doing something they both enjoy! The more fun activities the new roommates can do together, the faster the introduction should go with peaceful times ahead.
Obviously every dog is different, and some adjustment periods are going to take longer than others. As long as you follow these steps, and use a little common sense along the way, you should be able to make the transition period for the two dogs as seamless as possible and be part of the lucky group of people that have more than one dog. Good luck!