What’s better than having one dog? Well, clearly two dogs! Most of the time people don’t get two dogs at once, instead they have one and then decide to get another. After the decision is made about what dog should join your family, a dilemma usually pops into your mind: how do I introduce the two dogs? After all, these two dogs will be living together for years to come, which means starting the relationship off on the right foot is a really good idea. Aren’t you glad I didn’t say ”right paw”?
Even if your current dog is extremely friendly with other dogs, you should still take precautions. It is definitely better to be safe than sorry in this case. Take the following simple steps and you will be off to a great start.
– Have each dog on a leash! I know some people are fans of “just let them figure it out”. But that is quite a roll of the dice. If it goes wrong, are you prepared to break up a fight and then keep a close eye on them every time they are around each other? It’s much easier to have a leash on each dog so you can pull them apart at the first sign of trouble. Keep the leash loose, you don’t want to hold a tight leash since it can interfere with your dog’s body language, which could be misinterpreted by your other pup.
– Introduce the two dogs on neutral ground. Go a long way down the street or to a local park you normally don’t frequent. This way your current dog won’t have a chance to be territorial. While holding that leash loose, let the dogs sniff each other for a few moments and then pull them apart and praise. Then, let them check each other out some more. If you notice raised hackles, tense body language, or avoiding eye contact, then pull your pups apart and go on to the next step but come back to this one eventually.
– Go for a walk. Once your have let your dogs sniff each other for a few moments, then it’s time to go on a walk. At first have one dog in front of the other, then switch. If all seems to be going well, then try having them walk next to each other, or more specifically the order across the sidewalk should be person, dog, person, dog.
– Have all toys and beds picked up. If you felt that all went well on the walk, then it’s time to bring both of them back home. Before you go in your house though, be sure to have all the toys and beds picked up. You don’t want a chance for one dog to resource guard against the other right off the bat.
– Hang out with the dogs for a little while. Once inside your house, don’t just let the dogs go. Keep an eye on them to make sure everything is going according to plan. The situation can be stressful for each dog, so if you notice any signs of stress, then separate the two for a little while.
– Keep them apart until you are sure. This may seem like a no-brainer but you would be surprised. Don’t go through all the steps and then decide they are good together and head to the store while leaving them out. You may be right and nothing may happen but don’t take the chance. When you are gone, keep them separated until you are very sure they have accepted each other.
– Feed them apart. Until you know that one dog won’t guard his/her food against the other, feed them apart. A good way to find out how they will react is to put up a baby gate and feed them on opposite sides. This way they are close and can see the other dog but can’t get at each other.
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