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Introducing a New Dog to a Resident Dog (Part 1 of 2)

The following insights and techniques are adapted from the book, "Creating a Peaceable Kingdom: How to Live with More Than One Pet" by Cynthia D. Miller.

Issues to consider before bringing a new dog home:

* Barking

If your present dog is not a barker, remember that another dog may create a noisemaking situation. Even if the new dog is not a barker, the two dogs together may increase the excitement level so greatly that they just can't help themselves. Perhaps they make noise only when they are playing, but it can still be irritating to those around you.

(Note: It is important to determine and address the underlying cause of problems such as barking, not just the symptoms.)

* Fighting

Some breeds or individual dogs tend to fight more than others. If the dog you have an affection for is one that has a tendency to be dog-aggressive, be prepared to deal with this problem. (This might include careful supervision when you're home, and total separation of the dogs when you can't supervise them.)

* Training

Your present dog should be well trained before adding another canine. Being able to control using basic obedience commands is essential. Every dog should be obedience trained using a gentle, mutual respect-based training method.

If you have not given your pet reason to doubt the sincerity of your motives or any reason to be resentful or distrusting, you will not lose control simply because there is another dog in the house.

* Pack Behavior

If you have two dogs and are adopting a third, you may find that the two gang up on the new addition. When two dogs create a united front against the newcomer, intervene and take charge immediately to make the transition work. Otherwise, the situation can become dangerous.

Your pets will know you are leader if you have shown them that the best thing in the world is to look to you for guidance. When the dogs know that you make the rules, they live by your standards. They will work out a pecking order among themselves, and they will continue to respect your authority. Make sure they see you as master before they spend extended time alone together.

* Gender

As long as you spay and neuter, one animal of each sex is the most frequently recommended combination. Peaceful coexistence depends on three keys -- the unique personality of the animal, your attitude, and your determination to make it work -- not just the gender of the animal.

* Age

Getting another dog of a different age will generally make things easier. If both dogs are adolescents, they can be quite unruly. Although there are no set rules, some trainers suggest that the best age difference is around three years. This difference seems to make the balance of dominant and submissive positions evolve naturally. The development of friendships can be more difficult with a larger age span.

* Two Puppies

Training one puppy takes hard, dedicated work. Training two puppies is twice the work.

If you know that you want two dogs, it is recommended to get one dog and raise him with all of the manners that you would expect your little canine buddy to possess, and then add another. The older dog may demonstrate the proper way to earn your attention and admiration, and your new little charge may learn the ways of your home more quickly.

* Attention

Keep your first buddy confident in the knowledge that he is important. Letting your attention diminish because of the new family member can produce jealousy in your first dog, which may create aggressive behavior and anxiety.

In dogdom, there is no equality; there is a definite hierarchy, with one dog higher than the other. Your new dog will not suffer a psychological blow if you give the first dog more attention. Show your first dog affection when the new dog is around.

* Dominance Issues

Bringing in a new animal companion will alter the dynamics of the group, so this is an especially important time to be aware of social order. Your dominant dog should have his ranking reinforced by being fed first, going through the door first (though not ahead of you), and receiving your attention first.

* Keeping Order

Although the dogs must develop their own social order, they must remember that you are still in charge. This means being fair on reprimands as well as affection. Any misbehavior, regardless of who started it, must be handled equally (and with consistency). When play gets too rough, all must be placed in a down-stay position or separated until calm is restored. Make the rules, and then back them up with necessary action.

Do not let your resident pet think that the relationship is up to his discretion. Do not force the new dog on him, but make sure he understands that he has no room to question your actions. You brought the new family member into the home and he must accept him. Even if the present dog does not want to interact and build a friendship with the new addition, he must cordially tolerate the existence of the newcomer.

If one dog is continually getting into mischief, he may be expressing a need for more attention.

* Making Introductions

Think positively. Act with authority and confidence. Remember, what you feel and think translates to your actions even if subconsciously, and your animals sense your emotions.

Introduce the dogs in neutral territory. A secure, fenced area works well. Opposite-sex introductions tend to go smoother than same-sex introductions. Also, if the dogs are neutered or spayed, you will have an easier time.

Praise positive behaviors and avoid giving attention, even negative attention, for undesirable behavior. Do not reprimand, sweet talk, or in any other way interact with your pet until he is calm and relaxed.

Be sensitive to signs of stress or incompatibility. Supervise the interactions. Recognize a balance between too much roughness and the natural behavior of dogs working out a social order. During the adjustment period, be patient and cautious.

* Once at Home

Provide them each a place to feel secure and unintimidated in your home. Your first dog should be able to relax in his spot without worrying that he needs to protect it.

At meal time, feed at the same time but in separate areas of a room. Separate with a gate or in different rooms if either dog seems anxious.

Helpful websites include:

Next week: "Introducing New Dogs to Cats."

For more Dog Tips about traveling with dogs and other care, adoption and the work PAW does, visit our website at:

Partnership for Animal Welfare, Inc.
P.O. Box 1074, Greenbelt, MD 20768

Last Updated: April 26, 2018 (LET) PawSupport