Adding a new dog to the family is a big decision and a lifelong commitment. It is especially important to consider the pets you already have in the home when deciding to bring in a new addition. Once you’ve decided to get another pet, you’ll want to make the introduction with a minimal amount of stress. Here are some suggestions:
Conflict is least likely to occur between a male dog and a female dog or two male dogs. Two females is the combination most likely to result in conflict, since female dogs often have dominant or “Queen Bee” personalities. Not to suggest this is always the case, but it can potentially be.
When you choose a new dog, consider your current dog’s needs. For example, try not to bring a very active young dog into a home with an older dog. If you do get a puppy or young dog, be prepared to set boundaries between the two.
Introduce the dogs in a neutral area rather than your own home or yard. If you choose somewhere neutral, like a park, neither animal has the home court advantage or feels like the other dog is invading its turf.
It is best not to leave two newly introduced dogs alone together until everyone has had time to adjust to the new arrangement.
Feed the dogs separately — this removes the potential for food guarding or conflict over kibble.
Do not expect your current dog to share his toys and bed. Get your new dog his own toys and bedding.
Make sure to show both dogs attention and affection, but do not do so in a way that it may make either jealous — you may have to spend some one-on-one time with each dog at first.
Don’t change your current dog’s sleeping arrangements. If he sleeps in your bedroom, you’ll have to decide whether the new dog will sleep there too. It is recommended to crate your new pet, at least in the beginning, to avoid problems during the night when you are sleeping.
Supervise play between the dogs at first, and keep a water squirt bottle handy. Rough play can result in growling or snapping, so be prepared to distract and redirect the dogs to another activity if play becomes too intense.
If you have children, supervise all interaction between them and the dogs.
Like children, very few dogs coexist without some initial disagreements. There are likely to be some stares, lifted lips or growls in the beginning, and this is normal.
Avoid punishing them for these behaviors as it can turn uncertainty into fear and result in ongoing conflict between the dogs.
It seems that the average time frame for settling in is usually about three weeks. Once your dogs have adjusted, they will likely become best buds, or at least tolerate each other.
Traci D. Howerton is social media editor of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a 501c3 nonprofit. ARNO operates a volunteer-based, no-kill shelter in the Elmwood Industrial section of Jefferson Parish and depends upon the generosity of people from all over the country who have followed them since Katrina. Contact ARNO at firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.animalrescueneworleans.org or leave a message at (504) 571-1900.