Here’s a tip: SLOW DOWN!
Recently I’ve been involved in several cases where an introduction between dogs has been done poorly because of advice people found on the internet. I always feel sad and frustrated because much of the resulting conflict could have been easily avoided. This is my attempt to prevent unnecessary pain and confusion for people bringing a new dog into their home either from the shelter or a breeder when their resident dog doesn’t appreciate the newest family member.
The first thing you need to know is that the new dog is guaranteed to be very stressed no matter where he came from. A change in housing, even in the best of circumstances, is strange and confusing both environmentally and because of the sudden new relationships, both with humans and with other species.
This is why you must be prepared to provide the new dog with a 3-week decompression period. There are several ways to do this. Use a “safe” room for the dog (No closed doors, please.Instead, install a secure gate of some kind in the doorway.) Or use a crate if the new dog will tolerate it and you have room for it. During this period, do not walk the new dog, or at least keep walks down to a bare minimum if you don’t have a yard. Don’t allow the new dog loose with resident dog(s), and she shouldn’t be free to roam your house. Provide all care, and comfort but don’t be overtly snuggly or loving during this time. Think of the new dog as a worried human guest who is new to your country and customs and who needs a slow warm up to his new amazing world. In other words, don’t take her to Disneyland!
Now, I know this goes against common wisdom and humans’ insatiable need to “know now” if things are going to work out long term. You will do best to resist this urge, and instead take it slow and steady. I always tell clients, “the more you want a new relationship to work out between dogs the slower you go.”
During this decompression period, your dogs will live parallel lives similar to awkward room-mates . You may not like the room-mates, but you stay out of each other’s way, work hard to do necessary tasks in a common area of the house at a time you won’t run into them, while being extra courteous with manners and cleanliness in order not to “rock the boat.”
Also, look at things from your resident dogs’ perspective: They never told you they wanted a new buddy, so make sure their lives don’t change much and instead make the new dog’s world small in the beginning with the intent to slowly open it up over time. In addition to setting both dogs at ease this plan will also help the new dog succeed in your home by depriving him of the opportunity to potty on your oriental rug or chew up dearly departed grandma Enid’s hope chest.
After this period of 3 weeks, you will have a fairly accurate feel for what the dogs think of each other, and you can engage a knowledgeable force free dog trainer in your area to guide you through the next steps. Of course, I’m always here to help virtually if you can’t find such a person near you.
If you doubt I can help you virtually, I will just say this: a proper dog trainer never needs to touch your dog in order to teach it. Instead, a skilled, educated dog trainer can easily explain to you how to proceed based on your answers to their carefully crafted questions and your ability to report accurate information. This will result in a well-thought- out treatment plan to get you to your peaceful vision of the future with your new canine family.
My dream for you is that you have the knowledge to bring as many dogs into your home as will make you happy and are allowed in your area. After all, if we have more people comfortable with multi-dog households, we will have fewer unwanted dogs waiting in area shelters. This is still and will always be my ultimate motivation for working in this industry.