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Planning to get a new dog soon? In order to keep everyone happy and safe, it’s important to introduce new dogs to your existing furry family members properly. Here are a few tips.

Introducing a new dog:

To other dogs…

Dogs are “pack” animals, meaning they have a natural social structure and dominance hierarchy. If you already have more than one dog in your home, they probably have this structure in place. When you’re ready to introduce a new dog into the pack:

  • Choose a neutral location. If you do your introductions on your existing dog’s turf, he’ll be inclined to view the new pup as an intruder.
  • Take the dogs for a long calm, structured, leashed power walk with minimal distracted sniffing of the trail and each other in the beginning. There should be one calm adult person for each dog. As they get into the rhythm of the walk they will relax and be less focused on each other. After the walk, off-leash time together in a neutral securely fenced area will allow them to get to know each other, and minimize heightened reactive behaviors which are often exacerbated or even caused by being on a leash.
  • Let the dogs thoroughly sniff and examine each other, being mindful of each dog’s body language
  • Use plenty of positive reinforcement, including treats and praise, when the meeting is going well.
  • Once the dogs seem comfortable around each other, take them home. Because of that natural hierarchy mentioned above, one will likely take the dominant role and may seem to claim certain items or areas of the house. Give the dogs time to adjust and to get into a routine with their new family member.

To cats…

Some cats love dogs and will play with them like they’re part of the same pack, other cats will tolerate dogs, and some cats are terrified of dogs. Consider your cat’s personality before getting a new dog and before introducing the two animals.

  • Start with separation. Keep your dog in one area of the house and your cat in another. After a day or two, switch their spaces, giving them both the opportunity to get used to each other’s smell.
  • Once your new pup seems to be calm and comfortable with the cat’s scent, put a leash on him, and take him into the room with the cat for a few minutes at a time, based on the reactions of each animal. Continue introducing the animals in the same manner for a few minutes each day until they are calm around each other.

Contact our office if you have questions about introducing a new dog to your existing pets.

Many puppies are happy and well adjusted. However, we can help with emerging and/or chronic behavior issues as the need arises. Dogs finish physical growth at 1-2 years of age depending on the breed, large dogs mature more slowly. Behavioral growth and changes continue to around 4 years of age. We see puppies grow out of some behaviors such as chewing and hyperactivity. However, as dogs mature some behaviors become more prominent such as separation anxiety and aggression.

Please let us know if you have questions and would like help with behavior issues as we have many management options including handling and training techniques, and medical considerations as well.

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