There is something very special about preparing to share your life and your home with a second dog and no doubt, it’s a very exciting time. Let’s make sure that your existing dog feels the same way, by making the introductions carefully and calmly so that a lifelong friendship can flourish.
Let them get acquainted
First and foremost, it’s important to establish whether your dog actually likes other dogs. If they display anxiety or aggression when others are about, consider how they’re going to feel with what they might view as a constant threat to their environment moving in with them. A two-pooch life might not be the life for you after all. All being well, and having made the decision to plunge into a double-dog life, is it at all possible to make introductions prior to the big move in day? If you’ve opted for a rescue dog, any sensible rescue centre will allow you to take your existing dog to meet the new. Try to do this a few times and in a variety of scenarios. Start by walking at a distance with both dogs on leads. As long as no anxiety or aggression is displayed by either dog, gradually reduce the distance between them. Make any interaction calm. Find a secure paddock and if you and the centre staff feel it’s safe to do so, let them off lead to play. Again observe closely and keep everything calm and positive. If in any doubt, consider using a basket muzzle for peace of mind to begin with.
If you are taking on a young pup, speak with the breeder about making introductions prior to collection day. As long as your dog is fully vaccinated, they might well allow you to. This will be a massive change for puppy too and meeting you and their new companion a few times will help them feel more secure when they come to leave their mother and littermates.
Dog appeasement products could really help a puppy going out into the big wide world. The Adaptil range includes a collar which can be placed on your puppy a few days prior to leaving the litter, and left on for a month to help cope with new, often daunting experiences. It’s a great idea for rescue dogs as well and why not pop one on your existing dog too? It’s big change all round after all.
Stock up on bowls, toys, dog beds etc, your requirement for these things is about to double. Don’t allow any reason for there to be competition between pooches for items such as toys, as this could cause unnecessary conflict.
When that exciting moment comes, when you’re able to take your new fur baby home, consider how you’re going to make the introductions. With fully vaccinated dogs and puppies, it’s one idea to take both dogs out for a small walk. Introductions are then made on neutral territory. Once all is calm and happy, bring them into the home, keeping all interactions calm. With unvaccinated puppies, this is not possible, however, you might choose to make introductions in the garden or at least away from your existing dog’s possessions such as their bed or favourite toy.
Initially, you might like to keep them separated when you can’t be supervising them, for example overnight. This is especially pertinent where you have an older dog and a younger puppy. Remember that not all dogs enjoy being jumped all over by puppies and having their ears nibbled at and swung on… Especially aging dogs with aching joints and painful areas. Your dog couldn’t necessarily be blamed for telling an overzealous puppy off, so consider the safety of everyone.
Take some time out
Be they puppy or adult, your new pal is in for a big change. Although you may in the long run, be leaving them at home for periods due to work and other life commitments, try to take some time off at the start and be home as much as possible. Gradually build up the time you leave them alone so that ‘alone time’ doesn’t come as a shock. Your existing dog will likely appreciate the support initially too! Use this time to train both dogs into a new regime to suit a multi-dog household. A new puppy will need toilet training but even an older rescue dog needs to learn the ways and workings of their new family. Don’t punish, but instead, praise and encourage good behaviour as dogs aren’t inherently ‘naughty’ or ‘bad’, they sometimes just lack guidance.
Ask everyone in the family, including children, to be mindful that this is big change for the two dogs involved. Move slowly around your new pooch until you know they aren’t scared by sudden movements and spoil them both with praise and treats as positive reinforcement. Make the whole experience a happy one.
And don’t forget – if you need any extra advice or support, we’re here for you! Just get in touch and we’ll be happy to give you plenty of top tips to help you along the way.