As you may know, earlier this year, I added a new puppy to my household! It’s very exciting to get a new dog and integrate them into your existing group. Some dogs are wonderful at greeting their new canine siblings right from the get go. Others, need some time to warm up.
So, how do we go about adding a new dog to our household and our existing group of dogs? Let’s talk about it!
If your current dog has shown themselves to be friendly and welcoming to other dogs, in various situations, like new dogs coming into their home, meeting new dogs in daycare or dog parks and meeting new dogs on leash; AND your new dog is a brand new, happy puppy, then you are probably safe to let your dog meet their new sibling right away. Congratulations, you can stop reading!
If you don’t have one of these dogs, and your dog has shown the need to have slower introductions, then read on!
Crate and Rotate
The first thing I suggest when adding a new dog is do a period of crating and rotating. You can do this by keeping them separated from your current dogs using crates or gates, and rotating them every couple of hours. This means keep one dog or group of dogs out in the house, while the new dog is crated or gated (preferably out of sight) then switching. This helps them acclimate to hearing and smelling their new housemate without the overstimulation of seeing them or spending 24/7 with them right away.
When I was crating and rotating with Ludo, Digby, and the new puppy, we had various scenarios set up. Either, Ludo would be in his own area with a crate and gate, Lili would be in her exercise pen area and the boys would be free roaming, or Lili would be in the living room and the boys would be gated in the kitchen (see photos).
In the beginning I also added a blanket over these gates or crates to add an extra visual barrier. And I used an extra barrier to prevent them from getting directly to the other’s crate by either having them on leash or using another exercise pen about a foot away from the crate. Over time, I would remove blankets to have them come into full view of each other and remove extra gates that may be in place to keep them from the other’s crate.
Activities to Promote Togetherness
Other activities I have done to work on getting dogs together include parallel play and walks at a distance. Each of these will require a separate family member to help by handling one of the dogs. The dogs should be at least 15ft apart, so that they cannot reach each other.
Harley, the rottie, recently got a new baby brother, Levi. Part of what we’ve done to introduce them are walks. Mom handled Levi while I handled Harley as we walked around their property. Harley got to see mom interacting with Levi and Levi running, jumping, and playing; all potentially triggering events.
For parallel play, we either had Levi in an exercise pen or gated in another room while mom played with him. I played with Harley on the other side. This helped them see each other moving around and engaging in common play behaviors like tugging, fetching and play growls. These are also potentially triggering events.
Face to Face Intros
When you are finally ready to get your dog’s face to face, a process that may take several weeks as it did for Lili & Ludo and for Harley & Levi, the best strategy is a walk.
Walk the dogs at a distance from each other, one in front and one following. Slowly, over the course of your walk, get closer and closer together. When they are finally close enough to reach each other, let them do so and sniff. At this point, you will know very quickly if they are ok with each other. Either they will begin o engage in play signals, or someone will show a stress behavior like growling or showing teeth.
If they begin to offer play signals, great! Walk to your house and enter together. At that point they should be able to continue playing and interacting. On the other hand, if they show stress signals, then it’s time to call professional!
Have questions about introducing a new member to your pack? Contact us!