What's the Best Way to Introduce My Dog to a New Dog?

December 16, 2019

One of the scariest things for dog owners can be introducing a new dog to the dog that they already have. A dog owner's worst fear is that their two pups won't get along. Fortunately, there are a few tips and tricks that can help to ensure that your two dogs will get along fine.

  • Don't do it alone! Make sure you have at least one other dog-friendly individual (or a dog trainer) to keep hold of one of the dogs while you have the other.
  • Avoid introducing the two at home, especially if your dog doesn't meet a lot of dogs, or is a male, or female with puppies. Dog's can be territorial about their home, and trying to introduce a new dog to your existing dog can easily cause fights over "territory" if done in the backyard the first time.
  • Make their first introduction short. Allow them to smell each other, and then gently separate them using leash pressure. It helps to make sure you're always standing on the "outside" of your dog so that the leashes don't get tangled, and so that you can pull your dog away if any scuffles break out.
  • Keep human body language calm and don't be overly loud or tense when introducing your dogs.

You can make your dog's interactions with other dogs more positive by practicing basic obedience commands in public regularly, like sit, down, and stay. Carrying treats or toys if you're working through behavior problems in public will make it easier for you to get your dogs attention on you while you work toward better behavior when meetings other dogs.

Watch Your Dogs Body Language

A dog that stands perfectly still, with its tail flat and un-wagging is a dog that is feeling anxious. Some dogs tolerate stress better than others, and some are more social. Be mindful that your dog may not like every dog he encounters, even if he lives with another dog at home or is generally friendly.

You don't have to try to make your dog be a social butterfly. If socializing with other dog stresses your dog out and makes him bark, spin on the leash, or growl, you can work on other behaviors like his obedience during a walk to give your dog something to do when you go outside.

Greeting Other Dogs On A Walk

When meeting other dogs, you should always keep your dogs safety in mind. Not all dogs are friendly, even if there's no obvious signs.

It's not a good idea to let off-leash dogs run up to your dog, nor is it a good idea to let your dog run up to a strangers dog off leash. Always consider that the dogs may not be friendly, and take precautions when introducing the two to make things go smoothly, such as:

  • Always ask the other owner if it's OK to introduce your dog, or if their dog is friendly.
  • Keeping the leash loose, but without a lot of slack in it for easy control of your dog
  • Practicing good obedience before greeting other dogs. Asking your dog to sit before meeting a new dog is a good example.

Adopting a New Dog or Puppy

If possible, try to introduce your existing dog to your soon-to-be dog frequently. If you're rescuing your dog, try fostering first to make sure both dogs get along well over an extended period of time. When introducing the two dogs, use a kennel and establish rules for the new dog before letting him have free roam of the house.

It's better to start your new dog or puppy with rules and structure than to try to add it in after behavior problems or fights have started. If you purchased a new puppy, keep your puppy confined to a crate when he's not being supervised. Don't assume that your existing dog will "teach" your new puppy good behaviors. While your new puppy can learn from your existing dog, you'll still need to provide plenty of guidance and structure along the way.

Introducing your dog to a new dog can be stressful for everyone involved, so take things slowly and don't be afraid to take a few steps back and give the dogs some space. It's good advice to keep both dogs on a leash the first few times they meet eachother. Wait until both dogs show signs of wanting to play and are curious about one another before letting them off the leash together.

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