If you are a dog owner, you might consider bringing another dog home so your current dog has a new friend and pack member. A few years back, this is exactly what I did. After awhile, my two dogs became pals, but they certainly didn’t start out that way. At the time, I had no idea there was a right way and a wrong way when bringing another dog home. To put it mildly, we had a bumpy first few days.
1. Introduce the Dogs on Neutral Territory
To avoid conflict when bringing another dog home, introduce them to each other on neutral ground. When I adopted my second dog, I did not do this. After arriving home with the new dog, I should have taken them both out for a walk, immediately. But did I? No, and we faced the consequences for that mistake later.
2. Avoid Squabbles & Fights
If the two dogs decide to duke it out, it is important to intervene. Dogs are pack animals and they eventually determine their own hierarchy of dominance, but aggression is not okay. Keep an eye on their body language so you can nip it in the bud if one starts to threaten the other. Make the initial meeting friendly, but always maintain control over both dogs. Both dogs should be on leashes, but keep the leashes slack, if possible.
3. Move Protective Items
This is where I really went wrong when I introduced my beagle mix, Stanley, to his newest pack member, Dottie. Everything was fine until Dottie started sniffing around Stanley’s food dish. When Stanley noticed that, all Hell broke loose. Up until that moment, Stanley had always been the most docile little guy. Since I failed to pick up his food dishes before Dottie arrived, he felt threatened and went on the attack.
4. Do Not Leave Them Alone Together
Don’t leave the new dog alone with your current dog at first. When you adopt a second dog, make sure someone will be home for the first few days to supervise them. If that’s not possible, keep them in separate areas that are secured. Otherwise, one dog may hurt the other when no one is at home to intervene. Once they have spent supervised time together and they are actually getting along, you won’t need to worry about this as much.
5. Don’t Force Them to Interact
It takes time for your two dogs to become friends. They’ll start to interact when they’re comfortable with each another. If one dog isn’t interested in the other, that’s fine. Just maintain a light mood, using plenty of positive praise when they do interact with each other. Even though Stanley and Dottie had a horrible first day together, they eventually became good buddies.
6. Separate Them, if Necessary
If one dog bullies the other, do not assume they will work it out by keeping them confined in a space together. The submissive dog will probably have a lot of anxiety, so give him a safe space to sleep and relax on his own. Don’t worry. You won’t need to keep them apart forever. Just give them time to adjust and always supervise them together, at least during the first few days.
7. Don’t Make Them Share
Never feed the new dog from the same bowl as your current dog. Chances are good that you’ll end up with a major fight on your hands and at least one traumatized dog. Also give them separate sleeping spots and separate bedding. If they want to share with each other down the road, they will do so. At first, they both want to protect their own turf, though.
I did it all wrong when I brought Dottie into Stanley’s home. What other advice do you have about bringing a second dog into your home?