A few years ago we brought a second Golden Retriever home. We were ecstatic to welcome a new baby, we named Ivy, into the family. Gracie, our six-year-old Golden, was less enthusiastic about her new sister. It reminded me of when I woke up in my college dorm one morning being greeted by my new roommate I did not know was coming. It helps both humans and dogs when big changes are made slowly. Introducing a new dog to your pack is most successful when proper training principles are followed.
Patience is Key
Most people do not become best friends the first day they meet each other. The same is true with dogs. We cannot expect them to immediately love their new sibling. Imagine if when you were a child, your parent or guardian brought home a new kid and said, “You will love him now.” That probably would not have gone over very well. Rushing the process is detrimental to the end goal and can even be dangerous. Introducing your current pup to a new puppy or adult dog should be done slowly in multiple steps. Your patience will be rewarded when, in the end, both dogs are cuddling and playing with each other like old pals.
Walk it Out
Going for a walk is a great opportunity for the first introduction. Both dogs will be on neutral territory. Remember to have plenty of high-value treats with you as with any training. Begin with two people walking the dogs at a significant distance apart from each other. They should be able to see and smell each other but not touch. If they are polite and peaceful, reward them with a treat and verbal praise. As long as everyone is on their best behavior, it is okay to shorten the distance in increments. Give your dogs a reward and praise each time you reduce the distance between them. Once they are close enough, alternate the dogs to give both an opportunity to lead. Finally, allow them to walk side-by-side. It is okay if it takes several trips to get to this point.
What to Look For
It is important to monitor the dog’s behavior during the walk. If they begin to bark, jump at each other, or show their teeth, it is time to call it a day. Negative reactions are not always that obvious, however. Along with barking and baring teeth, look for hair standing up, a stiff-legged gait, or especially long eye contact. These are all signs that the dogs are uncomfortable and the training session needs to end.
Take it to the House
The real test of their progress is in your house or apartment. Once the dogs are walking side-by-side like BCFs (Best Canine Friends), it is time to see how things go at home. A baby gate will be immensely helpful. Place the gate in a doorway and have one dog on each side. There should be someone with each dog. If your dogs are big enough to jump over the gate, you will want to be prepared to try and stop them. Just like during the walk, good behavior should be rewarded with treats and praise. Repeat this process a few times until they seem completely relaxed around each other. Then you can remove the gate. You will still want to be close by in case something happens. Make sure there are no toys and treats around for them to fight over. Your diligence and patience will be rewarded in the end.
Bringing a new dog into your family while keeping the peace can be difficult. It is most successful when multiple people are involved. We would love to help you welcome a new baby into your pack. Please give 2 Paws Up Inc. a call for your training and pet sitting needs. Also, continue to follow our blog for great pet tips.