This month on the Acoma Animal Clinic blog we’re talking all about bringing home new pets! Last time we gave a bit of a basic rundown on introducing cats and dogs into your home and the steps in giving them access to the space. This time we are going to focus specifically on introducing dogs into a home with other pets, whether they are dogs or cats.
You Only Get One Shot at First Impressions
When it comes to introducing dogs to each other, that first impression is critical. How they interact the first few times they meet will set the tone for the rest of their lives so make sure it goes as smoothly as possible with these tips!
Slow and Careful
Let the dogs get to know each other slowly, carefully over time. Throwing them together in the backyard and hoping for the best might work or it could lead to serious injury or heartbreak should they fail to get along.
Step 1 – On Leash, On Neutral Ground
Ok, that sounds a little bit like a Steven Seagal movie but the point stands. Start introducing the dogs on neutral ground (like a training center, a basketball court, or neighbors yard) and have both dogs on-leash. Take the dogs for a walk, 10 feet apart so they don’t greet or stare at each other. This will allow them to get acclimated to the other dog’s presence without extra tension.
Step 2 – Neutral Ground, Leashes Dragging
This meeting should stay on neutral territory, away from confined spaces. The more room they have to move around the better. There will be less tension and more room for them to be comfortable. Wait a few minutes while they sniff each other, then call the dog away. If they begin to play and it seems going well, let the play continue for a few minutes and then end the session. Always try and end the meetings on a good note so there are no lingering bad vibes between the animals.
Step 3 – Take it Home
Now you’re ready for the dogs to meet at home. Start first with a meeting in the yard, following those rules in Step 2. Then move to in-house meetings. Take the current resident dog out of the home and into the yard, then bring the new dog inside. This way you help eliminate potential negative reactions and tension. Take your time, end each meeting on a good note and soon their relationship will be formed.
After They’ve Met…
Keep the Dogs Separate
While you’re away, keep the dogs in separate rooms or crates. This will prevent any fighting or injuries from occurring while you’re away and out of sight.
Keep Working at It
Preventing conflict is the name of the game when it comes to ensuring a happy relationship between dogs. Most dogs can settle minor troubles with each other, by growling over a toy for instance, but they shouldn’t be allowed to try and limit each other from common areas of the home or keeping each other from you for instance. If any of this is happening, you’ll need to address it then and discourage it. Encourage positive behaviors like sharing toys.
In the beginning, you’ll have to stay vigilant and continue to encourage the proper behaviors you want to see in your dogs. With enough time, and enough reinforcement they’ll learn to live together and be happier for it!
If you’re bringing home a cat to join another feline, check back next time when we cover introducing cats to cats! While you introduce your new pets, make sure you are following up with all vet appointments they need as new members of the family. If you’re in Tucson and need a vet, give us a call here at Acoma Animal Clinic.