Training Tips for Adding a Second Dog to the Family, Part 1

We focus on a number of specific dog training areas during our various programs at Innovative K9 Academy, and one of the broadest and most common is interactions with other dogs. While programs like our group dog training classes involve many individual themes you’ll be working on with your dog directly, they also feature numerous opportunities for your dog to socialize with other dogs and learn how to behave properly in these settings.

This kind of training is valuable in numerous common situations, including one many families have experienced: Introducing a new dog to the family when at least one dog is already present in the home, a process that’s often far simpler for families when their previous dog has already had significant training and interaction with others. In this two-part blog series, we’ll go over several important themes to consider if you’re bringing a new dog into the home to ensure everyone is comfortable, dogs and humans alike.

The 3-3-3 Rule

The first step here involves assessing whether your current dog is ready for a new playmate. This begins with understanding if they have any major behavioral issues or could be a bite risk, in which case you should consult your vet and other professionals to decide if bringing in a new animal is a prudent choice.

If your dog doesn’t have any major such issues, we recommend what many pros refer to as the “3-3-3” rule for helping both animals adjust to this new reality. This goes as follows:

  • The first three days will feature heavy shock and adjustment for both animals, particularly the dog entering a new environment for the first time. They may react strangely – some will be overly energetic while others might be extremely subdued. Expect this for a few days.
  • By the three-week mark, the new dog will have had enough time to settle in and get used to routines. If any significant issues will be present, they often begin to show during this period – and this is the period where training is most important.
  • After three months, or maybe a bit longer for some breeds, both dogs will usually have adjusted to the new situation and become familiar with routines.

Dog Traits

Another consideration before bringing a new dog in is its traits and whether it will be compatible with the current one. You don’t want to be matching two highly dominant dogs, for instance, and certain dogs may have major preferences in terms of the gender, size or breed of dog they get along with. We also generally recommend against bringing in a new dog that’s a completely different size from your existing one, which can cause some relatively apparent issues.

Introduction Period

A vital element of this entire process is the introduction between the two dogs. The primary goal for owners here is to introduce the animals in as low-pressure an environment as possible – we often recommend this is done outside or even off the property so the original dog isn’t overwhelmed by protective instincts. As the animals get more familiar with each other, you can reintroduce them to the home setting.

For more on bringing a new dog into the home, or to learn about any of our dog or puppy training classes or services, speak to the staff at Innovative K9 Academy today.