Dogs have innate territorial needs, so when we introduce a new dog to the home of our current dog, both dogs can become stressed.
I assume you already have an easy-going dog that can meet other dogs without showing fear or aggression. After all, if you don’t already have a sensible, relaxed dog that knows how to behave, why would you want to get another dog? But just in case your dog is still capable of “a few aggressive moments” the following steps can help.
Step 1. Before you bring the ‘new’ dog home:
– hide your current dog’s toys if you think there might be conflict. (Or, buy so many that the two dogs won’t be fighting over them.)
– have plenty of tiny treats ready.
– have a bed ready in a different room and its own feeding bowl. That will help your current dog to feel less territorial, and help the new dog feel safer. When you go to bed, make sure the two dogs won’t meet during the night.
Step 2. Introduce the new dog to its new home.
Do this as a weekend or holiday begins. While the new dog is exploring its new home and getting used to your dog’s scent, have someone take your current dog for a walk in its favourite park. Make your new dog’s exploration a pleasurable one by being friendly and by letting it find the occasional treat.
Give it opportunities to toilet. It doesn’t yet know where the exits are.
When the new dog finally appears to be comfortable in its new home it’s time for Step 3.
Step 3. Take your new dog to the park to meet your current dog.
If you think the new dog might run away in the park, put it on a leash or be in an enclosed area. If you think it could get aggressive and attack, keep it on a leash.
Let the two dogs sniff each other, and then leisurely walk them together for a while. Don’t try to persuade them to get together. Let them get used to one another on their terms.
Don’t throw a ball and force the two dogs to compete with one another, but if they want to play-fight, let them. When one dog wants the play-fight to end, or if one dog begins to dominate, call the two dogs to continue the walk. You want the play to end on a good note with both dogs feeling happy and safe, and feeling good about one another.
If they have no interest in one another, that’s fine.
Each time they appear comfortable with one another and accept one another, give each of them a treat at the same time. That way, each dog will learn that being with the other dog is a good thing. But don’t favour one dog over the other.
If you can tire them out, do so.
If you have driven to the park you should be able to bring them home together in the back of the car.
Step 4. Bring them both home.
If you have two people, that’s helpful.
Attach a leash to each dog in case there is a dog fight and you need to separate them, though don’t hold those leashes unless it becomes necessary.
Keep the dogs together so they don’t forget that the other one is there and then later get a surprise.
Keep them supervised all the while and if you can, with two people.
If tension is creeping in you can reduce it by
a) distracting them with a word.
b) taking the two dogs to where there is plenty of space (such as a lounge room or a backyard) or
c) by separating them for a few minutes to give each one plenty of individual attention. (But don’t do this after a dog fight. Do this when you can see tension growing.)
When the dogs show friendliness towards one another give them a treat, a pat, and praise them together.
When the dogs want to roam, let them, but keep supervising them.
Again, if they have no interest in one another, that’s fine. Don’t push them to be friendly.
Keep supervising them.
Step 5. Give each dog special attention.
From the first day, have each family member spend one-on-one time with your current dog without the other dog knowing (so there is no jealousy). Give it plenty of praise and affection. Your dog needs to feel comfortable that the new dog will not be usurping its position as a loved pet.
Do the same with your new dog. Let it know that it is in a safe and loving environment. However, don’t hug or kiss the new dog. It’s still getting used to you, and dogs don’t like hugs anyway. Pat it carefully and give it plenty of praise.
Do this daily. Give each dog plenty of individual attention until they’re friends. Then why stop there?
Step 6. Keep up the supervision.
First thing in the morning: take them for a walk together. That will distract them from one another and the more they walk together the more they will come to accept the presence of the other.
When you get home, keep up the supervision. Remind yourself that most dogs become accustomed to one another. Meanwhile, feed them in different places and at the same time. (When you do finally choose to feed them together, supervise them until you feel comfortable there will be no fight.)
Step 7. Begin to relax.
There will come a time when you feel comfortable not supervising them. However, if you need to go out and leave them on their own, keep them in separate areas of the house until you’re absolutely sure they won’t fight.
Give your dog its toys if you think the two dogs won’t fight over them.
After a while you can leave them at home together and give them bones and chewable treats because you know they won’t fight over them.