As professional dog trainers, we get a lot of questions from family and friends – and, often, total strangers – about how to introduce two unacquainted dogs.
Although the process can be fairly straightforward, things get tricky when one (or both) of the dogs have behavioral issues. You may also run into trouble if you’re bringing a new pet into a home with an established pack structure.
The most important professional dog training tip we can offer is to make sure things get off to a good start.
Introduce a New Dog First on Neutral Ground
If you’ve agreed to pet sit for your neighbors while they’re on vacation, or if you’re adopting a new dog, you can’t simply toss the new kid in with your pack and assume all will be well.
Most of the time, a strange dog will integrate without hassle but, if they don’t, someone may get hurt. For this reason, we always recommend that our clients take a cautious approach and make introductions on neutral ground.
Using leashes and help from a friend, each of you brings one dog into an open space such as a park or a neighbor’s yard. Simply walk around for a few minutes without coming to close to one another. As long as no signs of aggression are present, you can slowly bring them closer together until they have a chance to sniff and greet each other.
Bringing a New Dog into the Home
The first time dog trainers bring a new pet to an established pack, they prefer to make introductions outdoors. Dogs can become more stressed in a small space and the outdoor environment gives everyone more room to breathe.
Start by putting the existing dog outside, and then bring the new dog into the house. This will allow him to get the scent of current pets and understand that he’s on their territory. After he’s had a chance to sniff around, take him outside where the other dog(s) awaits.
Keep leashes on both dogs but drop them and allow them to trail. Allow them to sniff and greet each other but keep a close eye on the situation.
Even if everyone seems to be getting along, dog trainers recommend that you not leave them alone or unsupervised together until you develop a comfort level with the relationship. This means crating them in separate areas of the house when you leave. Finally, be careful about leaving kids alone with the pack if you’ve recently introduced a new pet.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry, until you get to know your new pet well.
When to Seek Help from a Professional Dog Trainer
You can wait until you have problems to seek the help of a professional dog trainer but, once two pets have gotten off to a bad start, it can be very difficult to overcome those critical first impressions.
We suggest that our clients allow us to facilitate the introduction of a new pet whenever possible, especially if one or both dogs are not particularly social. If one of the pets has a history of aggression, this is even more important.
Innovative K9 Academy assists clients throughout Utah with all of their dog and puppy training needs. Contact us today to learn more about our services or to schedule a private session with one of our expert dog trainers.