Introducing a Dog to Other Pets

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Many people tend to get more than one pet and whether it’s a dog, cat, bird, etc., it is quite common to see a multi-species household. The trend to have a multi-pet household is sometimes linked to the pet owner(s) who feel like their pet needs a companion. In reality, a lot of pets do enjoy the company of other animals and owners love to see them play together, scheme together, sleep together, etc. Some people focus on having a younger pet to enrich the life of an older pet, as well as to reduce the dread of loss. When introducing multiple dogs into the same household, how can we focus on making an acceptable atmosphere for each individual pet? The main focus would be basic obedience training. You can go through an obedience course which will give you the specific tools needed to help with this situation.

Dogs Have a Social Structure

Like most animals who live in groups, dogs tend to establish their own social structures, which is viewed as a dominance hierarchy that serves to maintain order, reduce conflict and promote cooperation among pack members. They also do tend to establish territories which they will defend against intruders. This will greatly affect their behavior when you want to introduce a new dog into your household.

Where to Introduce a New Dog

You should choose a neutral location when dealing with the first introduction. Each dog should be handled by a separate person with both dogs on leashes in order to have the best control over them. Make sure that the area is not familiar to either dog, and that they both have been well exercised before the meeting. A tired dog is a well behaved dog. Make sure to be calm yourself, as dogs can pick up on nervous energy coming from an owner. Avoid tensing up the leash and make sure to positively reinforce all the calm and non-threatening behavior demonstrated by both dogs. Let the two dogs sniff each other, but not for too long as it could lead to an aggressive response.

Observe Behavior Closely

Make sure to keep an eye out for stress indicators, such as defensive or aggressive body language. We do not want to force the dog into a situation they are not comfortable with as well as reinforce the unwanted behavior by coaxing them. If you observe an undesirable reaction by one or both of the dogs during the initial introduction, simply walk away with the dog and then slowly reintroduce them again, positively reinforcing all the correct behavior. If you have more than one dog at home and plan on introducing a new dog into your resident pack, be sure to introduce them one by one to the new canine. If a group of dogs is already living together and have already established their pack hierarchy, they could have a tendency of ganging up on a new comer.

Who Is The Alpha Dog?

The important thing to keep in mind when having more than one dog in the household is that there is a hierarchy. Whether you want to accept that fact or not, you must make sure that in any and all situations you place yourself as Alpha leader by sticking to all your leadership exercises. This behavior will transcend to your dogs as well, as each one will have a defined role in the family. If you coax the less dominant one of the group, and punish the Alpha, it will lead to dog vs. dog aggression. Always make sure the Alpha dog is allowed to get their way first.

Puppies Are Still Learning

One of the main things to consider about introducing a puppy to an adult dog is that puppies before the age of four months may not recognize subtle body postures from an adult. This will lead a puppy to pester an adult dog unmercifully until the adult literally has had enough. Well socialized adult dogs who have great temperaments may warn by growling or snarling. These behaviors should be allowed and shouldn’t ever be punished. However, adults who might not be well socialized or have a background of aggression might actually bite a puppy to set limits which can severely hurt the puppy. Make sure you allow the adult dog some time for R&R away from the puppy and some well-deserved attention from you as well.

Get Help If You Need It

Always contact a professional animal behaviorist if the introductions don’t go smoothly. The longer the problem continues the harder it is to resolve.