How To Introduce A New Dog To Your Current Pets

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Bringing a new dog or puppy home should be a very happy time, but if you already have dogs that live with you, this can be a nerve racking and potentially stressful time.

We all wish that it would be super easy, just bring the new guy in and then they sniff each others butts then they run off as best of friends.

But that's not how things work in the real world.

Relationships, even among canine kind, take work, and it's your responsibility, as Dog Owner, to give everyone the best possible start together, to make the introductions as anxiety free as possible and to foresee any obvious causes for squabbles and mitigate them before anything can happen.

The first order of business is to know your dogs and their personalities and not bring another dog into the family that you know isn't going to mix well with the rest.

If you've got a strongly dominant male dog, don't bring another one with the same trait home.

That's an obvious recipe for disaster, almost as bad as trying to get your reigning female to get along with an authoritative newcomer.

Consider, also, the sizes of the dogs you're integrating. It's not necessarily bad to have a household of dogs of widely varying sizes, just be aware that when introducing a small one to a very large one there's a huge opportunity to get things off on the wrong foot.

The little one's bound to feel some threat and intimidation, no matter how benign the big dog is, just by the sheer overwhelming size and the instinctive knowledge that a careless or clumsy misstep could be the end of the road for the small fry.

If you have more than one dog at home already, you can either start the introductions with the dog who's boss, following the logic that once the boss has accepted the newbie the others will follow suit, or start lower down on the totem with the most gregarious of the bunch or the most laid back, letting the new dog make some friends at the bottom, building confidence and having some advocates before meeting The Boss.

Once again, you need to know your dogs to make this decision.

So, once you've got the order of meeting all planned out, now you need to figure out where to do it.

A neutral territory is nearly always the best choice.

Try to avoid places where your dogs have already staked too much of a claim if possible.

A park where everyone can meet on an equal footing and there's plenty of room so that no one has to feel crowded or pushed, is an ideal choice.

One thing to remember, especially if you have to host the introductions at home, is to clear the area of any personal toys or other possessions that could spark an altercation.

This is especially critical when you've done the individual introductions and you're working on the group dynamic. You'll have to use your best judgement on handing out treats.

If you've got a dog who is a resource guarder or has some food aggression problems it's probably going to be wise to skip the goodies for now.

If that's not a problem, treats can be a great distraction and a help in the integration process, especially in keeping the new member of the pack calm and focused on you while being sniffed and prodded by the new roomies.

Remember, this isn't a process that can be rushed, and it's probably going to be awhile before you can turn your back on them.

Once they've got it all sorted out, it will be when you really have to keep your eyes open. There's no telling what sorts of schemes and plots they'll hatch behind your back.

And you always thought it was the cat that was trying to take over your world!

Written by Molly Kenning, a writer for

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