Introducing a new dog to your family can sometimes be a bumpy road, but with proper planning, patience, and plenty of rewards, your new and current dogs will become fast friends. To ensure the introduction goes smoothly, our WesVet Animal Hospital team has developed a few essential steps for welcoming a new dog. 

Step 1: Determine what type of dog will best fit with your family

Trying to put two dogs together who do not mesh well is a recipe for disaster. Before bringing home a new dog, determine what personality will fit best with your current dog and your family. If you have an older dog, a rambunctious puppy may irritate them endlessly, or they may bring out the inner pup in your senior pet. Alternatively, two high-energy, young dogs can either be the best of friends and tire each other out, or they can create a tense environment. Carefully considering your current pet’s personality, your space situation, and the time you have available for training and play can make the difference between a happy household and a mismatched pair.

Step 2: Set up an initial introduction between both dogs

Once you think you’ve decided on the perfect dog for your family, do a trial run. Set up a meet-and-greet in a neutral zone, such as at your local park or at a spot neither dog has been before. Ideally, choose a calm, quiet area and walk the dogs within sight of each other until they are relaxed. Gradually move closer, rewarding each dog for focusing on their handler, rather than intently staring at the other. When the dogs are 5 to 10 feet apart, ask them to sit and perform other commands for treats, which helps keep them focused on you and form a positive association. Once the dogs are calmly alert, try walking them next to each other, pausing for sniffing introductions. If either dog appears tense or uncomfortable, begin walking or training again to take their focus off the other dog.

You should know within 15 to 30 minutes how well the two dogs will get along, if not sooner. Taking the initial introduction slowly will provide a solid foundation for a great relationship between your pets. 

Step 3: Create safe spaces for your pets

After finding the best canine match for your current dog and before bringing them home, create safe spaces for both pets. If you have a cat, ensure they also have a safe spot to retreat to, such as a climbing tower with a lofty perch. Many people set up separate crates for their dogs that are draped in blankets and lined with cozy bedding and favorite toys to create a sanctuary. When the household’s hubbub gets to be too much, your pet can retreat to their haven and decompress. Providing a sanctuary for your new dog can help them better fit into your home and family, and remain comfortable during the transition period.

Step 4: Remove any toys, treats, or guarded resources from the common space

When a new dog first enters a home, some guarding may occur over resources, such as toys, treats, food and water dishes, and even human interaction. To ensure a smooth introductory period, remove any resources that may potentially be guarded until your two dogs are comfortable around each other. This may require gating the dogs in separate areas with their own resources until they are allowed access to the entire house. When handing out treats or toys, you may need to separate your dogs to avoid a scuffle. As time goes on, you’ll learn what your dogs will and won’t share.

Step 5: Engage in fun activities with both dogs to form a positive association

To cement a strong bond between your new and current dogs, spend equal one-on-one time with them, along with joint activities. Take walks, play games, teach tricks, and visit new places as a pair to help your dogs form a positive association with one another. Soon, your pooches will be the best of friends and look forward to spending time together.

Congratulations on your new four-legged friend! We’d love to also welcome your new pet into our WesVet Animal Hospital family. To ensure your pet is healthy and in tip-top shape, schedule a wellness visit by calling our hospital.