New Dog. Who Dis?
With so many dogs finding fosters and adoptive homes during the COVID-19 crisis, pets’ lives all around the world are changing. Bringing a new dog home to your current dog(s) is exciting! While some new canine siblings may become fast friends, for others it may take some time. Dogs, just like people, have their own unique personalities that mesh with some and not so much with others. Also, like people, a good first impression can leave a lasting effect for dogs too. Consider these tips when introducing a new dog into your home and you’ll be setting both your current dog(s) and your new dog up for a successful, happy relationship.
1. Neutral Ground
When introducing dogs to one another, it’s important to choose a meeting spot that represents neutral ground for both pups. Bringing your new dog straight into your current dog’s home could cause an unnecessary boundary dispute. Stranger danger applies to pups too! Facilitating a “brief encounter” between your new dog and current dog is a great way to let the dogs get to know one another without egos getting in the way.
Ask a quarantine housemate (someone you are currently confined with and safe to be near) to walk one dog while you walk the other. Walk opposite directions on opposite sides of the street or about 20 feet apart. Let the dogs see each other but keep walking. Do another pass-by and then begin walking in the same direction, still on opposite sides of the street. Slowly, begin to join up with the other person and other dog. The goal here is to have both dogs actively walking near each other and being comfortable in each other’s company. Don’t let the dog’s fully meet until you’ve walked a few blocks or for about 5-7minutes. If you’re having trouble keeping the pups apart before it’s time to let them greet each other, it helps to keep the dogs separated by one human. It looks like this: Dog –Human–Dog—Human, all side by side walking briskly forward.
Once you let the pups fully meet, do your best to keep your emotions and your hands out of the situation. Dogs can feel our emotions through a leash and an anxious owner can lead to an anxious dog. Take deep breaths and just stay calm. Don’t reach in and pet either dog while they’re meeting for the first time. Petting your new dog could cause some jealously with your current dog and vice versa. If you need to give your current dog a quick pat on the head to re-assure them that’s OK but save the love fest for later. It’s also important to keep plenty of slack in the leashes of both dogs. Dogs speak volumes to each other with body language and a tight leash could stop the dogs from sending friendly signals.
2. Inside Intro
If you don’t have outside space available, you can introduce your dogs indoors too. If you have more than one dog currently living in your home, do this intro one by one. Before you start, clear toys and treats out of the area that you plan to let the dogs meet in. If your new pup grabs your current dog’s favorite toy, that could cause some friction. Leash your current dog and your new dog and let the dogs meet in as open a space as you can provide. Remember to keep your emotions in check and give the dogs slack in the lead so they can get to know each other naturally using their own body language. A quick study on dog body language before introducing your pets is a great way to be prepared to actively analyze the play time. Check out our article Dog Speak and you will be ready to catch any negative warning signs and reward any positive signs of play.
Allow your dogs to establish their own pecking order via play and if you have a dog that resource guards toys or food, feed them in separate rooms and separate them when playing with favorite toys. And don’t stress your dog by giving his/her favorite toy to the new dog. Allow each dog their own space and items. Like people, not all dogs feel love at first sight with other dogs. It may take some time for your new and current dog to strengthen their bond. That’s ok! Do your part by letting the dogs get to know each other at their own pace and doing your best to show them equal affection.
Change Your Tone
When rewarding or correcting your dog, your tone of voice matters. Use a higher pitched, happier tone to reward and a deeper more serious tone to correct. Even if your dog doesn't yet understand the command you're giving, they will understand your tone of voice.