Almost as exciting as bringing home a new baby, bringing home a new puppy or dog is a big event at home. Having a new furry friend to play with means hours of fun, but it’s also a lot of responsibility to care for a new pet. This is especially true if you already have a dog in the house. Welcoming a new dog can cause some stress, or even some conflict. Here are a few ways to introduce a new dog to your home, and make the transition go as smoothly as possible for everyone.
Take Your New Dog to The Vet First
Before you introduce a new dog to your home, you must ensure he’s healthy and isn’t going to pass any disease or illness on to your current dog. You may receive some sort of health certificate from the seller when you buy a dog, but there is no way to verify any of the claims on that certificate. You should know that a lot of pet stores get their dogs from puppy mills where conditions are such that many of the dogs that come out of them are unhealthy.
Even if you got your dog from a reputable breeder, it’s still a good idea to have him checked out by a vet before you take him home. Some breeders keep their dogs outside, and you don’t want to bring home fleas or ticks. Depending on the dog’s age, your vet may recommend starting him on a regular flea and tick preventative, or may prescribe other pet meds to treat things like kennel cough, which is very common in dogs bred in substandard conditions. Get a clean bill of health for your new dog before you introduce him to your current dog to keep them both healthy and avoid potential problems.
Introduce Your Pets Outside the House
Your current dog considers the house his territory, and he’s not going to like some new dog coming in and trying to share it. It’s not fair to expect your dog to understand what’s going on. All he knows is you let some strange dog into his house, and he may feel the need to defend his territory and put the new dog in his place.
When you bring a new dog home, introduce him to your current dog outside, or in a completely neutral location away from home. Keep both dogs on leashes to maintain control of the situation. Let them sniff each other, and even play if they want to. But don’t try to force them together. They may completely ignore each other. But give them a little time in each other’s presences before you all go into the house together. Even then, you may want to keep the new dog on a leash for a little while so he’s not invading territory. Once both dogs have calmed down and seem ok with each other, let them both roam free and start getting to know each other.
Feed From Separate Dishes
If your dog isn’t crazy at first about sharing his house, he’s definitely not going to be keen to share his food. Forcing two dogs to eat from the same bowl can cause a fight. Remember, dogs are descended from wolves, and guarding food is a means of establishing dominance. The alpha dog in the wild will eat first, and then allow the other dogs to eat when he’s done. You don’t need to feed your current dog first, but do keep their food in separate dishes.
For the first couple of weeks, you may even want to feed your dogs in separate rooms. It’s not unusual for a dog to steal another dog’s food to establish himself as the alpha. And yes, there may be just a little bit of jealousy at work as well when your current dog sees you giving the new dog food and attention. Keep them separate, and watch to make sure your new dog is able to eat all his food without interruption. Once they get more used to each other, you may end up being able to feed them side by side. On the other hand, you may always have to feed them separately. Let their behavior guide you.
Let Your Dogs Establish Their Own Relationship
Dogs have their own little personalities, just like people do. You may bring a new dog home, and within a day, she’s calling the shots while your current dog begins behaving more submissively. It may bother you to see this, but if that’s the order your dogs establish between themselves, you have to respect it. Don’t let one dog steal the other’s food, or become aggressive with the other, of course. But if the new dog becomes the alpha (or really, the beta because you should always be the alpha), that’s just the way it is.
Some things you can do to make the submissive dog feel loved and cared for are feeding them separately (as suggested above), giving them each their own toys, and their own beds. If you allowed your current dog to sleep on the bed, let the new one sleep there, too. Or, if your current dog wasn’t allowed on the bed, don’t suddenly let the new dog break the rule. Treat them as you would two children—fairly and equally, without displaying favouritism.
Above all, give both dogs a lot of love and attention. Remember that you may be inclined to give the new dog a little more attention because he’s new—especially if you brought home a cute little puppy. Be sure to spend some quality time with your current dog, too, and let him know that you still love him just as much as ever. Before long, you’ll all be living in harmony.