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Introducing A New Dog To Another Dog In The Family

If you are taking on a new dog and want to introduce it to your existing dog(s), good first impressions for both dogs will help them to get to know each other more easily. Learning what to do to encourage a successful meeting will help avoid any conflict, particularly when the new dog enters the territory of the existing dog.



This advice does not apply if either dog has a known behaviour problem with other dogs.  If this is the case, seek help from a professional pet behaviour counsellor.

  • Intro - dog to dog 1

Will they get on?

That is as difficult a question as asking if two people will get on if you introduce them!  The answer is that no one really knows until you try it.  Generally, the more sociable the dogs involved are with other dogs, the easier it will be.  Introducing a female to a male is easier than introducing members of the same sex, and introducing neutered animals is generally much easier than introducing entire animals.  However, it will really depend on each individual’s temperament and previous experiences, and so you never really know until after they have met.


Note:  Be very careful about introducing two entire adult male dogs as they will both need to be really sociable if they are to get on.  If you do decide to do this, make sure you are well away from the smell of any bitches in season as, otherwise, they will see each other as rivals and are likely to fight.

Introductions away from home

The very best way to introduce dogs that don’t know each other is to take them for a walk in a large open area that neither dog knows.  They can then get to know each other without the pressure of being on ‘home ground’.


Start by getting both dogs out of separate cars, or walking from different locations, with both dogs on lead.  Keep your distance at first and walk in parallel with each other to avoid head-to-head meetings as these can be stressful for both dogs.  Keep walking so that the interest of the walk takes away the intensity of the meeting, but get steadily closer together until you are walking parallel to each other just a few metres away.  Continue walking until both dogs are calm.


When you feel it is right, let them both off lead at the same time, but keep walking to avoid both dogs and people coming together with the resulting pressured head-to-head meeting.  Let them meet and say hello without any interference or calling while you continue to walk ahead.  If they run towards you and crowd close to you, move away slowly so that you are not affecting their meeting.


If one dog is obviously not enjoying the experience, put the other back on the lead for a while and try again later.  If it still doesn’t work, you may need to consider if they are compatible after all.

  • Intro - dog to dog 2

Indifferent or friends for life?

Sometimes dogs introduced in this way just ignore each other.  This is fine and just means that neither are ready to take things further at this stage.  It could mean that they prefer human company to that of other dogs, or one dog may be a little worried about the other and so may be deliberately avoiding encounters.  Allow them to take things at their own speed and give them more similar outings together if you can before you take the other dog home so they can get to know each other better before living together.


If you see play bows or anything that resembles play behaviour, you should be encouraged as this usually means they will get on well. 


If one dog is very playful and the other isn’t, interaction between them will probably end fairly quickly.  However, if the playful one keeps on trying to goad the other into playing and making the other dog feel uncomfortable in the process, this is not a good sign, and you should try many more introductions before taking the new dog home.

Introductions at home

Before bringing the new dog home, remove any doggy ‘possessions’, such as bones, toys or bedding that may otherwise cause conflict.  Arrange for both dogs to meet in a neutral area (as above) (avoid head-to-heads) and walk them both back to the house together.  If there is a garden, let them both free and give them plenty of time to get to know each other.  Try not to interfere, and ask children to refrain from interacting with them for a while so they can concentrate on each other.  Only get involved is one of the dogs is being bullied or pestered and then do so by trying to distract the dog that is being difficult, trying to interest him in moving in a different direction.


If all has gone well, walk into the house and allow them to follow.  Don’t call them or raise their excitement levels in any way.  Just keep everything calm so they can get used to each other in peace.  Be careful not to make your existing dog jealous by being too friendly to the new dog. 


If all has gone well, begin to reintroduce bedding, but keep toys and bones out of the way for the first week or so.   Make sure they are getting lots of exercise and mental stimulation out on walks during that first week so they are tired and happy to relax and rest when at home.

For further information, go to 'Multiple Dogs In A Household Problems'.

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