It’s time to bring your new dog home! You have found just the right dog for you, made sure that they get along with your existing dogs, and you are ready to go. Now you just bring them home and start your multi-dog life, right? Not necessarily. It is important to take introductions slowly, even if you are dealing with two dogs who like other dogs and don’t typically have any issues.
When you first arrive home with your new dog, start with a walk together around the neighborhood. This will give the dogs a chance to meet again while on neutral territory. Make sure you have picked up your new dog with secure gear so that they are safe for this first walk. As you finish the walk, head into your backyard through the gate if possible. Let the dogs off leash together and let them sniff and explore together for a bit.
Once they have sniffed and explored, or if you don’t have a yard, after the walk, take your existing dog inside and put them away with something to chew before letting in your new dog. Give them a chance to explore their new home and get to know it and you in it on their own, without any interference from your existing dog. When they have had time to get to know the house without interference, put them away with their own chew.
It is a good idea to have a safe and secure place set aside for your new arrival before they come home. A crate is always a good idea, or a room that can be gated off with nothing they can destroy inside. It is important for them to have a quiet space where they can decompress from all of the new stimuli. It is equally as important for your existing dog to get time to themselves away from this new dog.
Often, when people bring a new dog into the home, they want to give them all the same privileges as the existing dogs. It seems so unfair that one dog should get to do something that the other does not. However, we can create a lot of problems that way. It’s just like children, they don’t all have the same privileges at the same time. They have to be earned.
If we give our new dogs too much freedom and too many privileges before we really know them, we may accidentally create problems, or exacerbate issues that we don’t know about. The first few months at least should be treated as a getting to know each other period. Focus on structure and setting expectations. Make sure that both dogs are getting solo time in the house and with you, as well as supervised time together so they can continue to get to know each other. During this time it is best not to leave your dogs unsupervised together, as you never know what could happen.
It is much better to take your introduction period slowly. It may seem painful and annoying, but in the
long run it’s better to take longer and have no issues. The last time I introduced a new dog into my household we took nine months to fully integrate her. We spent a lot of time focused on creating calm behaviors around each other, like hanging out on leash together and place, and slowly giving her more privileges in the house. She has now been with us for just under 3 years and have never had a major fight. Better safe than sorry is always the way to go!