I just had someone talk to me the other day about how to bring a new dog into the household when you have one or more dogs already. This is especially important if you are a foster home or adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue. If the dog is not a puppy, we do not always know their background and experiences so we want to take all the care we can when we bring the dog into the home, providing the best chance at success. Here’s my recommendations:
- First take the new dog for a walk in your neighborhood. This allows you to be with the dog in an easy, no pressure situation. He will take in the sights, sounds, and most importantly, the smells of his new environment.
- Next, take the dog into your yard on a leash. (with no other dogs) Walk the perimeter of the yard and let him smell all around. Now, he is learning the smells of the other dog/s without any pressure of being in the same yard with them.
- Now, take the new dog in and put him in a crate. Take your other dog/s out in the yard and let them smell the new guy. He will surely have peed somewhere.J Same thing, this will let them smell him without any pressure of being in the yard together.
- Next, take your dog/s in and put them in crates near each other. Let them chill there for a while. This lets them exist in the same room, but with everyone in their own safe space.
- Do the steps above until you teach the new guy how to do a structured walk. Walk him alone until this is pretty good. Then you can add a dog to the walk, then another. Walking next to each other, but focused on the walk will build a follower mentality and establish you as the leader of all of them.
- Now, try having them in a room together. Do this with supervision and have a leash hanging on the new guy so you can give quick guidance if you need to. No playing around in the house. The goal here is to just exist in close proximity.
- Last, if everything else goes well, you can try some short play sessions in the yard supervised. Make sure to advocate for everyone. Remember, both dogs should be engaging in the play, not all one sided.
- Rinse and repeat. Take time to observe and make corrections along the way.
Remember, even though your new dog may have a sad story, it is best for all if you begin his life with you in a structured, matter-of-fact way, teaching him the rules and expectations of the house. Believe it or not, this is what he needs most. (Consistency and fairness) There will be time for snuggles and cuddles later. Follow these recommendations and you should have a smooth transition into a multi-dog household.