Introducing a new pet to your already established pack can sometimes feel stressful and overwhelming. Whether it be a pet that you’re keeping long-term or just interacting with another pet while you’re out and about, the key is to remain calm and be observant of the situation.
If you and your dog are out on a walk or in a store and encounter another dog, always make sure the encounter between your pets is mutually acceptable. Some dogs may be working, timid, or not great with close, social interactions. Once the interaction has been agreed upon with the other owner, watch for initial behaviors to gauge the pets’ willingness to interact cordially. If they seem to be tense, are turning their tails down, growling, yawning, and/or their hackles are raised, this is a sign that they are not comfortable with the interaction and should be separated before the situation escalates. Again, it is always important to know your dog’s behavior and watch for signs that do not seem friendly toward the other party.
Another way you may encounter this type of situation is if you are introducing a new pet to your home. While it can be a big task to take on, always remember to first do your research, remain calm, and know when to call in the experts if needed.
Every instance of introducing a new dog to your home can be different. Pets have different personalities just like humans. For example, puppies are developing skills and learning boundaries that adult dogs already have. If you are introducing a puppy to an established pack, keep this in mind and watch for those uncomfortable, tense behaviors. Don’t scold your adult dog for these behaviors. Instead, take a step back and give the adult dog a break or breaks as needed. If you’re introducing an adult dog to your home remember that each dog has had different experiences in life and may not approach an interaction the same way. Take the interaction slowly and if need be, change your approach. Your established dog may feel more comfortable at first with the new addition on a leash outside versus both being loose inside. Pay attention to your intuition and seek experienced help if needed.
Don’t give up on your furry friends if introducing them is not going well and don’t let a bad first impression sway you to make a rash decision. I’ve been there and experienced vastly different meetings within my own pack. You will never regret the time and patience that you give to bringing in a new pet to your home.
If you need help, reach out to your local training community for tips and/or training. I also found some helpful tips in this article from OSU: https://indoorpet.osu.edu/dogs/new_additions_dogs/dog-dog-intro
If you’re introducing a new dog to your home through adoption or foster, we wish you the best and hope you found this information helpful!
Nicole Bolin, Interim Board Secretary