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Introducing a new dog to your home is always a huge decision. It’s even more important when you have to consider any pets that you already have in your home.  It’s important to make sure that your new dog and current dog will get along. You want them to be friends and both feel comfortable and safe in your home.  Here are some tips you can follow to make introducing a new dog to your current one as smooth of a process as possible:

Find neutral territory.

Your home is your current dog’s territory.  Some dogs can get very territorial or even violent when a new dog is introduced to their space, even if they are normally very gentle pets. Try to find a space that neither dog has been to. Just keep in mind that if you have brought your current dog to a space repeatedly, they still might feel territorial about that space.  Ideally, find a place outdoors, ideally one that’s fully fenced and quiet with no other dogs or people.  If you can’t find a suitable outdoor space, a basement or even a large garage will work. Again, as long as neither dog has spent a lot of time there beforehand.

Introduce the new dog slowly.

Once your new dog and current dog are getting along, you can bring the new dog into your home. Keep your current dog outside to allow the new dog to explore and adapt to his new space alone for a while.  It’s important to keep everything as calm as possible in your home while both dogs are adjusting to the new situation.  Maintaining your current dog’s normal routines and schedule will help them both feel more secure and safe. This will limit the anxiety that can happen when you introduce a new dog to your current one.

You can’t hurry love doggy friendship.

Introduce the dogs a little at a time and give them plenty of time and space to get used to each other.  You might start by taking them both for a walk on a leash, but keeping them far apart at first.  Each day, you can bring them closer and closer together.  And if you notice that either of your pups seems anxious, let them back off a little and try again tomorrow.  Rewards for good behavior go a long way here. Little treats can help make the experience a positive one for both dogs.

introducing a new dog

Watch both dogs carefully.

Their body language can give you hints as to how they are feeling and reacting to the situation.  If both dogs are showing interest, sniffing the other pup, and wagging their tails, they are most likely excited and happy about their new friend.  But if you notice either dog with a tense posture or lowered tail, that could signal anxiety. Freezing or giving hard stares toward the other dog could also show that they might feel nervous about the encounter.  If your dog stays near you instead of the other dog, it could mean they need a break from getting to know each other. Make sure to give them some comfort and down time when they need it.

Avoid food fights.

Dogs get very territorial over food (don’t we all??). If possible, feed them in separate rooms for at least the first few days.  If that’s not an option, at least give them their food in separate bowls to avoid anxiety over competition for food. Always be vigilant when feeding them at first and watch carefully to see how they react. If things are going smoothly, try moving them to the same feeding spot. Stay in the room with them until both dogs are finished eating. See how they react and separate them again if needed.

Try to avoid leaving both dogs alone together in your home.

For at least for a week or two after introducing a new dog, try not to leave both dogs home alone together. They may seem fine together when you’re there to act as referee, but you never know what might happen when you’re not there. The littlest things can trigger fight or flight mode and cause dogs who seemed like best friends to behave very differently.  Keep your dogs safe while you’re not home by keeping them separated until they are very used to each other. 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