Before I start to give tips on how to integrate a new dog, first let me give you certain characteristics to look for when adding a new dog to your household.
Typically, opposite sex, similar size, and similar energy level dogs get along very well. There are examples that show large dogs and small dogs doing well together, two females getting along, and puppies bringing out new life in older dogs, but this isn’t always true. We realize that there are individual cases that break the norm, but as a whole see above.
While thinking about adding a new dog to your house, think about the needs of your existing dogs and members of your family. Ask yourself, “Do I have enough time and resources to properly exercise these dogs individually and train them?” Most people would tell you that having two dogs in the house is very similar to having one dog, however; if you are adding more than that, it becomes a whole new story!
Animals mimic each other, so if there are behaviors and habits you wish to improve upon on an existing dog, do that first before adding a new family member. If your dog is reactive, or fearful of other dogs, please consult a qualified trainer to help you further with this integration process.
The Steps for Proper Integration
1. Meet on neutral territory. Do not bring a new dog home and expect your current dog to readily accept this new animal. While in neutral territory, begin to go on a group walk together. Praise each dog for neutrality, proper interactions (showing interest in the smells and sights of the walk itself and not fixation on the other, butt sniffs, and relaxed body postures). If there is an off leash area that is available, you may try that next if the group walk went well. During the group walk, watch for signs of fixation, stress, or aggression. If these things are happening, wait to let the dogs interact further off leash.
2. Keep calm and cool. Quality interactions frequently have a lot to do with how you are feeling and acting. Your dog depends on you for protection and leadership. If you are stressed and anxious, your dog will be able to tell, as will the new dog.
3. Barriers and crates are your friends. Feed your dogs separately. If your original dog is used to eating in the kitchen, you may keep him in the kitchen, but put the new dog in another room, or crate for feeding time. While you cannot supervise interactions, crate the dogs separately.
4. When adding a new dog, be aware that there is new competition in town! You might notice your easy going dog suddenly showing interest in toys, affection and food like he never did before. For high value items and toys, ALWAYS supervise and remove items if issues arise.
5. After integration successfully happens, continue to take each dog on individual walks and training sessions apart from the others. Ultimately, you want your group to get along well and have harmony in your household. Some dogs get along so well that they strongly bond to the other dog more than they do with the human. To avoid this potential issue, make sure that the main sources of all good things comes directly from you and that you are interacting/training with each dog individually.
If you are still a little hesitant and unsure about this process, Austin Dog Zone is available to help you choose and safely integrate your new family member into your home either by appointment, or phone consultation. We look forward to answering your questions!
Pictured below are my four fur kids. The Cocker mix you see in the photo has a history of leash reactivity, and has a very high prey drive. By using these steps above and seeking help when you need it, you will safely integrate a new member. For tips on how to safely integrate cats into the equation, please email us. 🙂
Post By: Laura Neiheisel