Planning on adding a new dog to your family? For one thing, getting a new addition to your family is already a big adjustment, but doing so while already having an existing pet is even more challenging! In order to keep everyone happy and safe, it’s important to introduce new dogs to your existing furry family members properly. Here are a few tips.
Introducing a new dog:
To other dogs…
Dogs are “pack” animals, meaning they have a natural social structure and dominance hierarchy. If you already have more than one dog in your home, they probably have this structure in place. When you’re ready to introduce a new dog into the pack:
- Choose a neutral location. If you do your introductions on your existing dog’s turf, he’ll be inclined to view the new pup as an intruder.
- Be sure each dog is on a leash and is being handled by separate people.
- Let the dogs thoroughly sniff and examine each other, being mindful of each dog’s body language
- Use plenty of positive reinforcement, including treats and praise, when the meeting is going well.
- Once the dogs seem comfortable around each other, take them home. Because of that natural hierarchy mentioned above, one will likely take the dominant role and may seem to claim certain items or areas of the house. Give the dogs time to adjust and to get into a routine with their new family member.
Some cats love dogs and will play with them like they’re part of the same pack, other cats will tolerate dogs, and some cats are terrified of dogs. Consider your cat’s personality before getting a new dog and before introducing the two animals.
- Start with separation. Keep your dog in one area of the house and your cat in another. After a day or two, switch their spaces, giving them both the opportunity to get used to each other’s smell.
- Once your new pup seems to be calm and comfortable with the cat’s scent, put a leash on him, and take him into the room with the cat for a few minutes at a time, based on the reactions of each animal. Continue introducing the animals in the same manner for a few minutes each day until they are calm around each other.
Call our office if you have questions about introducing a new dog to your existing pets.