October 12, 2023

The Right Way to Introduce a Second Dog to Your Home

When you introduce a new dog to your home, by planning in advance, you are much more likely to be able to build successful relationships in a household with multiple dogs

You may find your ideal second dog in a rehoming centre. This is the preferred route for some people because it’s easier to find a dog with a personality that matches your pet’s. Speak to your local shelter to see if they have any dogs they think may be suitable. They can also tell you about the pet’s history and whether they get along well with other dogs or not.

It is important to take the time to carefully plan and manage the first meetings between new and existing dogs and to make sure that each animal is given plenty of time and space apart during the settling process.

Before your new dog comes home, set up the environment in a way that gives both dogs the best chance of getting used to each other on their own terms.

It is also important to make sure that their vaccinations are up to date before they meet 

Is setting up safe spaces important when you introduce a new dog to your home?

Settling into a brand-new environment can be very stressful for a dog.

Consider the use of pheromones which can have calming effects on stressed, anxious, and fearful dogs.

A good product to use is a diffuser which can plug into common household sockets and contains pheromones

Think about safe spaces for each of your dogs; places that they can retreat to when they want a little “time out” from one another. If your new dog is used to a certain type of bed, like a covered crate, soft bed, hard bed, mattress etc it might be that providing them with a similar kind of bed could help them feel more comfortable.

Is how you feed your dogs important when you introduce a new dog to your home? 

Feeding dogs in the same area can put unnecessary pressure on them which can lead to squabbles. where possible, feed each dog in a separate room and have a few water bowls around the house. 

Be sure to separate the dogs when giving any chews or treats, as these are prized items that dogs are more likely to guard from each other.

Is where you store dog toys when you introduce another dog to your home?

It may be fine to leave toys lying around with only one resident dog, but a lack of supervision around toys could lead to squabbles in a household with more than one dog. Think about getting sealable boxes for your different dogs’ toys and where you would place these in different places to prevent issues.

Is time alone with both of your dogs important when you introduce a new dog to your home? 

Whilst it is important for social dogs to spend time together, they will also need some one-on-one time with you and will need to practise some time apart. Your new dog will need to build a bond with you to feel safe and secure, and your existing dog will still need love and attention to feel secure despite the change in household dynamics.

Using baby gates in the home can be a great help with this, as they act as a physical barrier but not a visual one. Consider where you could utilise them in the home and be sure to have them set up before bringing the new addition home. You should always supervise dogs when separating them with a baby gate to ensure neither attempts to jump over it or bother the other dog through it.

Is introducing both of your dogs to each other important when you introduce a new dog to your home?

Wherever possible it’s a good idea to carry out at least one dog-to-dog introduction before you bring a new puppy or dog home, but meeting in a neutral place is different to sharing a home together.

Is scent-swapping important when you introduce a new dog to your home? 

Dogs get a lot of information about the world from their noses. You can introduce your dogs before they meet using scent swapping. 

One way of doing this is by taking a blanket, toy or something else with the dogs' scent on it from each dog. Place it in a safe and appropriate area of the other dog’s environment, like in the garden, and allow them to investigate it at their own pace.

When you first get home with your new dog, don’t go indoors straight away. Instead, take both of your dogs for a walk together in an area with lots of open space where they can take their time to explore and get to know one another in their own time on more neutral ground.

Before bringing your new dog into the house, make sure any food and toys are out of reach and there are multiple water bowls and beds spread throughout the home to prevent any possible friction between the dogs. It may be a good idea to keep both dogs on a lead for a short while just in case you need to calmly move them away from one another and give them some space.

Keep the first two to three weeks as calm as possible and try to avoid having lots of visitors come over to say hello to your new dog. The first few weeks are crucial in establishing routine and stability in the home, so the fewer external factors you have to deal with in these early stages, the better.

Top tips for introducing two dogs to each other:

  • Make sure both dogs are fully vaccinated before starting introductions.

  • Try to find a dog with a personality and agility that will match your current dog's.

  • Don't rush any of their meetings and always take it at your dogs' pace.

  • Always make sure they have their own space away from the other dog.

  • Make sure to praise both dogs for good behaviour and getting along well.

  • Try to avoid giving your dogs treats when they are playing together.

  • Remove any much-loved toys of the resident dogs, during introductions. 

With careful planning, the first meeting between your new and your current dog could be the start of a beautiful friendship 

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