Choosing a housemate that will be compatible with your current dog is an important consideration for anyone thinking about expanding their family. Before bringing home that cute little puppy or adorable mutt from the local shelter take some time to evaluate the personality, training and history of your current dog(s) and the one that you are considering. Some thoughtful reflection now can spare you unnecessary headaches later.
If your dog is active and outgoing, adopt a dog with similar qualities. If your dog is quiet and more reserved, look for a dog that will compliment this type of lifestyle. Try to find out as much information from the adopting agency as possible. Most shelters and rescue groups have some form of temperament testing used to evaluate the dogs in their charge. Look to see that the adoptable dog has been around other dogs before. Most dogs have to “learn” how to get along with each other.
If the dog you are considering has not been socialized properly, it might be best to consider another dog with better social skills. The same goes for your own dog. Even though we tend to think otherwise, it’s generally not a good idea to get your current dog a “pet”. If and when you do decide to bring a second (or third or fourth) home, make sure you are doing it for you!
1) Don’t force your “home team” dog to protect their home turf. If the dogs meet in a neutral location, they are less likely to view the other as an intruder. Start in a neutral zone such as a neighbor’s fenced in yard or enclosed park that your resident dog has not visited. Each dog should be on a dependable Dog Leash and Dog Collar and handled by a separate person.
2) Positive Reinforcement Dog Training works. You want your dogs to have positive experiences with each other right from the start. Let your dogs sniff each other and greet each other normally. Give them positive reinforcement through calm verbal affirmations. After letting them play for a while, put both dogs in a “sit” or “stay”, then let them interact again. Finally, take them on walks together, allowing them to sniff each other along the way.
3) Play close attention the both dog’s body posture. Watch out for body postures that show a defensive response. Defensive body postures include hair standing up the back, teeth-baring, deep growls, a stiff legged gait or a prolonged stare. If a dog goes into these postures, immediately switch into positive reinforcement mode and get your dog to follow your teachings. Let your dogs interact again, shorten the distance between the two.
4) Once your dogs seem to be tolerating each other, it’s time to bring them home. Whether they ride in the same car or not is really a judgment call on how well you think they are getting along and the size of your car or SUV. We have found that allowing the new dog to enter the home first can reduce the chance of your family dog feeling that they need to “protect their turf”.
As anyone with a puppy can tell you, they can often be a handful. Also, because puppies are still learning, they usually wind up bothering adult dogs to no end. Puppies simply have trouble recognizing that their actions are bothering adult dogs. Most adult dogs with good temperaments will growl or snarl at recklessly playful puppies in order to set boundaries of acceptable behavior. This is normal and is actually a positive thing. However, never allow a puppy and an adult dog to be left alone together, for the safety of both dogs. Also give your adult dog plenty of time away from the puppy, and try to give them some quality time alone with you and your family whenever time permits.
Dogs can be very protective of their Dog Food and resource guarding can be a serious issue. Never allow your puppy and the adult dog to eat out of the same Dog Bowl, as this may lead to resource guarding. Feeding each dog in a separate Dog Crate (at least to start) is a great way to keep food fights to a minimum. This is also true if you give your dogs raw bones or chews for dental health or for special treats.
If your dogs are not getting along, please do not punish your dogs. Punishing dogs for their normal reactions to each other actually hinder their progress. Instead, contact a professional dog trainer to help assist you.
Adding a new dog to the family can be a fun experience for everyone and if you approach it with a positive mindset (and some patience) your dogs should be pals in no time. To find a dog trainer near you, visit the Association of Pet Dog Trainers web site.
If you are ready to bring a new dog into your family, we have Tips On How To Introduce Two Dogs To Each Other. While every dog is an individual and reacts differently; following these guidelines will increase the likelihood of creating a positive experience for both dogs.