Introducing Dogs to your home: Set them up for success

02/16/2021

BEFORE

Make sure that you have or purchase:

1) Baby gates, a large exercise pen and a kennel for each dog (yes, we want all dogs to have their own "room" and area= less conflict)

2) Make sure to have 2 of the same bowls, toys, beds and treats so each dog has the same

3) Natures Miracle Spray Cleaner in case there are potty messes- clean up any old spots just in case those potty pheromones remain

4) Adaptil Spray and Diffuser- plug the diffuser in a few days before the new dog arrives

5) White noise machine where the dogs will sleep

Prepare the home and your dog about an hour before the new dogs arrival:

1) Pick up and put away out of reach all valuable items like dog beds, food and water bowls, toys, chews, sticks, treats, Kong's and other items of interest. 

2) Block off areas of the house or furniture that you want to be off limits

3) Exercise your dog for 15-30 minutes

4) Feed them half of their meal or a snack (we want them a little hungry- more treat motivation)

5) Have your dog on leash and harness with treats in your treat pouch, have their favorite toys available outside with you but hidden for now

6) Have leash, harness, treats, treat pouch and a toy ready to go for the arriving dog also, kept away from your current dog

7) Expect that the next steps may take 30-60 minutes from arrival, or even longer sometimes


WHEN THE OTHER DOG ARRIVES:

1) Have 2 handlers, one for each dog and have the dogs meet outside of the home in a neutral area, maybe the sidewalk, down the street

2) Both on leash/harness at a distance of 15-25 feet

3) Allow them to slowly approach if willing, but NOT cross leashes as they can become quickly tangled and this can be scary for dogs

4) If one gets upset, nervous, aggressive or hyper in any way, stop and try to get them more relaxed and focused on your and your treats/toys for a minute or 2. Or, back up and give them more space between them

5) Once ready, allow them to sniff noses ONLY for 3 seconds and remove excitedly, using your recall such as their name, come or touch cues if known

6) Give them each a treat and gently rub their chest or anywhere they like to help them calm and relax before the next approach. Let them relax for 10-30 seconds then allow them to sniff again as above

7) Do this cycle 3 times if they are willing

8) If all is well, walk home together on leashes 5-10 feet apart so no tangling of leashes happens. Go for a longer walk if they're still very excited or not quite comfortable yet

9) The new dog will now be allowed in the house on leash while they explore the new environment, follow them but let them sniff and check it all out

10) Show them the important areas first like the potty spot, put some water down and let them drink it in the water area of the home

11) While your other dog waits outside, that handler should keep him or her busy by playing or going for a walk or training etc. We don't want jealousy or stress

12) When your new dog has sniffed and wandered for 15-30 minutes and appears calmer, you can bring your other pup back in

13) Leave the leashes on and supervise them as this is a critical moment- this is your first dogs territory and tensions can be high. Be prepared to separate them if need arises, have treats ready

14) Slowly start offering low value toys into the environment to see if they want to play, best t0 have and offer each of them the same toy at first and not right near each other but a few feet away

15) Food is the last thing to bring into the mix, since food can be considered high value and may be an item a dog might want to guard and fight over

16) Meal time- put each dog in their separate kennel, pen or baby gated area for the first week or 2 of meal times to ensure no arguing about it while they all adjust. This is a good idea for feeding in the long term anyway so might as well implement right off the bat

17) Outdoor, off leash time playing is the BEST doggie bonding time so encourage this frequently, as long as both are happy to join in

What if they aren't getting along?

They may go through phases and moods just like us and need time to learn and bond with each other

If they're not too happy to be together, give them time and space alone in their own kennels, pens or gated areas for a little while

Dogs needs naps, play, training, exercise of their mind and body and get grumpy when hungry too! So, make a routine chart for each of them to follow daily to ensure you're working together to meet all of their individual needs to keep conflict to a minimum

More exercise almost ALWAYS helps decrease a fussy mind. Have them walk together but not close to each other. Like, on the other side of the street parallel to each other, which is also great bonding for them

If one of your dogs is not spayed/neutered- that CAN sometimes be causing some underlying competition for resources so consider that hormones can be at play

If one of the dogs does not have very much social experience, they don't always develop appropriate social skills and can become confused and conflicted which can cause issues between them due to miscommunications. Doggie daycare or play dates with nice neighbor dogs is always a plus)

If one dog feels their "stuff" is at risk of being taken by the other- they can develop the desire to guard or protect their things and may show signs of resource guarding. This may look like hiding items, growling when someone comes near an item or place, this can also escalate to nipping, biting or full blown fighting if not noted and addressed early on.

Give each dog time without the other for 30-60 minutes per day. This could be a solo walk, play or training session with you or just to hang out in the house or yard away from the other dog who is having alone time

When guests bring dogs for a visit:

Follow the same rules above!