Having a multiple dog pack can be beneficial. Not only is it therapeutic to us, but it allows our dogs to have canine companions as well and give them great outlets for exercise and socializing. If you are considering adding a new dog to your pack, whether you already have one or multiple dogs, here are a few things to consider when introducing the new family member.
1. What is the activity level of your household—yourself and your dog(s)? Are your dogs content with being couch potatoes? Or do they love to romp and play together outside? You want to match the energy level for yourself and your pets. Also consider your dogs’ prey drive if you are considering a small breed. Talk with a trainer about what energy and temperament is a good fit for your family. Rescue groups are always willing to make sure you have a good match as well.
2. When the day comes to bring your new dog home, go straight for a walk. If this is the very first time the dogs are meeting, have someone start walking the original dogs, and then join up with them so the dogs will form one pack. The faster you walk, the easier the dogs will fall into place. You can also take turns walking one dog in front of the other so they have a chance to smell each other while they continue moving. A big walk tires them out and helps them have a calm energy when you get home.
3. As long as all dogs are relaxed and happy, invite them inside the yard or in the house. Remember that this shouldn’t be a big deal at all, so stay relaxed. If you are anxious for them to get along, take another loop around the block and come back to the house fully at ease. Dogs will pick up quickly on nervous energy, so stay cool, confident, and relaxed.
4. Always supervise their initial interactions. If one or both dogs looks like they are becoming excited or stressed, take a break, separate or crate them, and revisit when you are ready.
5. Claim objects as your own to eliminate resource guarding. Your current dogs may want to rush in and grab up whatever bones or toys are around, but humans are the only ones allowed to do that! Have everything picked up so that nothing is lying around, and then make an exercise of it. Show them you are the giver of all things good and tasty.
6. Pay attention to how they are feeling. If it seems like interactions are too much for one dog, maybe the new dog is overwhelmed by change, or the old dog is too excited, continue with the pack walks until you feel comfortable that the energy is more relaxed. Not all dogs are the same, so it may take some longer to adjust to a new setting.
7. Treat each dog like an individual. With the introduction of a new dog, don’t forget the old one-on-one time you had with your first dog(s), and remember to find what makes the new dog tick. You may have one dog who loves jogging by your side, while the other would love nothing more to play fetch for a few minutes. Spending time together is always wonderful, but it’s also important to find outlets to let your dog’s “personality” shine through and build your bond bigger.
Certified Dog Trainer
K9 Solutions LLC