Integrating a New Adult Dog into the Family

The decision to add a second (or third, etc) adult dog into the family should be weighed carefully. Hopefully, the prospective owners are in a position to pick the perfect dog for their growing pack.

If you are on the hunt for the perfect doggy addition, you should consider the size and energy level of your current dog and look for something compatible (not too small, not too tall) in size and similar in temperament. The resident couch-potato-of-a-Bulldog may not appreciate the company of the new high-energy-bouncing-Labrador, by example. Your boisterous German Shepherd may be 'too much dog' for your new Italian Greyhound. If your resident dog is female, look for a male of compatible size and temperament and vice-versa. Opposite sex pairs usually get along better than same-sex, especially over time. They naturally create a stronger bond.

Sometimes, however, a new dog enters our lives in the most unexpected of ways. Perhaps there was a death in the family, or you found a stray in need of help.

Whether your new dog is a planned addition, or a pleasant surprise, there are steps you can take to be sure that your new dog meshes well with the existing dogs and humans in your household.

1. Give the new dog time to figure out his surroundings. I love the use of Ex-pens for this purpose. The new dog is confined in an area where he can observe the going's on of the household, but doesn't need to physically interact (or defend themselves) from the existing dogs or humans. Remember that dogs learn most through their sense of smell, then their eyes, then their ears. Physical contact is not necessary for dogs to gather information about each other or their surroundings.

2. Don't rush the interaction between your new dogs and existing dogs.Watch your dog's body language carefully. Notice if there is any tension, nervousness or anxiety among the existing dog and the new dog. If there is, continue to follow protocol number one. Rushing the introduction process is a sure way to cause conflict between the dogs.

3. Sometimes less is more. Don't over do it with petting and attention. It can make the existing dog jealous, and make the new dog very nervous and anxious. Again, give your new dog some time to settle in.

4. Establish a routine (Sleep, play/train, eat). Now that you're dealing with a new dog, all of the dogs have to get used to a new system.  Dogs are much more content when they know what to expect.

5. After you have observed good vibes between the existing dog and the new dog, take them on a long walk together. Again, no need for physical contact at this stage. Have you ever wondered why dogs love walks so much? It's because they simulate territorial patrols, and pack hunts. What better way to communicate to both dogs that they are now part of the same pack? 

6. Be sure your dog understands what is expected of them. After your dog has been comfortable in his new home for a couple of weeks. Enroll them in dog training. Teaching your dog obedience skills is the best way to form a healthy lasting relationship with you and your human family members. Obedience training will also ensure that the dogs understand that you are in charge of the family, and they should look to you for information. This will greatly reduce the possibility of dog fights, or resource guarding behavior.

The bottom line is, if you introduce your new dog to your family in a slow and structured way, you are much more likely to achieve success! Check out my previous blog about Common Mistakes New Dog Owner's Make. There's lots of additional tips and tricks in that post that will help you settle your new dog in.