Integrating a new dog can be stressful and fun. I do this ALL the time – any time I take in a new board and train, I have to introduce a new dog into my home and pack.
Most people tend to give new dogs way too much freedom. Freedom needs to be earned.
Usually it takes dogs at least 3 days to settle in and learn to trust a new person. It takes up to three months of consistency to adjust to a new lifestyle and be comfortable with the new routine.
For everyone's safety, I recommend starting with kennel training. Go back to basics. You don't know each other yet. This way, the new dog will have a safe place of his own to relax. He cannot get into anything he's not supposed to, and cannot interact with your other dog unsupervised. This also enforces potty training, which can be a problem when a dog enters a strange, new, and stressful environment.
Dogs are creatures of habit, and routine makes them feel safe. Start them off with a strict routine, and no freedoms. Keep a leash on the new dog at all times, and keep them attached to you whenever they are out of the kennel. If you have trouble with your established dog, you can keep a leash on them as well, for corrections, or keep them in another part of the house while the new dog is out.
You want the new dog to realize that everything they need comes from you: Food, potty
breaks, walks, water, freedom. The more structure you give them initially, the better bond you
will have with the new dog. It also helps the new dog realize that you own the space because
you are in charge of what they can and can't do.
You want to limit interaction with the dogs until you have a bond with the new one. Dogs are the same species and can quickly bond with each other, but you want both dogs to have a strong bond with you and respect you as their leader. The new dog needs to understand that you are in charge, you are the leader of this pack.
When it comes time to introduce both dogs, off leash is best or let them drag leashes. You
want zero tension on a leash. Tension can create frustration which can create reactivity or
nurture aggressive tendencies.
Do not allow mounting or posturing over each other’s shoulders. Do not allow dogs to linger anywhere too long sniffing/licking. Trust your gut! If tension is high, break it up. Walk between them or call them away.
Take the new dog for walks alone. This helps them bond to you. It’s non confrontational, and it fulfills their need to move with a pack. But also start involving both dogs by taking them on walks together with separate handlers if possible, so they start to understand they are in a pack together now.
Make sure both dogs get plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. Bringing a new dog into the household can be stressful on everyone. It is very possible your established dog can experience jealousy because of the newcomer. But a tired dog is a happy dog. Give both dogs attention and make sure they're getting the stimulation they need to keep stress levels low.
Now that you have multiple dogs, it’s important to let out, feed, and give stuff to the calmest
dog first. Look for ears back, relaxed, sitting, or laying down. All of these are signs the dog is
calm and relaxed. If you added a puppy, feed the oldest most established dog first. Then feed the puppy.
It’s your house, you decide what the rules are. But dogs do need rules. I recommend at least 90 days of no furniture for a new dog – just so they understand it’s your house. If there are ANY behavioral problems, then keep no furniture. Height=Status in the animal world. Not every dog takes it personally, but a lot do. Know your dog and know what they can handle.
Once your new dog learns the rules and starts listening better, they can graduate to dragging the leash around the house. Once they do well with that, then remove the leash. Don’t be in a rush.
Never leave two new dogs unsupervised together. Crates/pet gates keep dogs safe and your
As always, if you need help, reach out to me. I’m here for you.