You saw a sweet dog on Facebook or at an adoption event and you’d love to add a new member to your canine family. However, you are suffering some apprehension because you are not sure how your current pup is going to feel about sharing his territory with a new dog.
Integrating a new pet into your household is not as difficult as people may think. With some instruction and a lot of patience, most people can make it work.
The first thing to realize is that when a dog is in a shelter, it has to decompress for a couple of weeks once it’s out and in your home. You can’t expect this dog to trust you and your other family members right away, especially another dog that is strange to them.
I always tell people to take your dog to the shelter or arrange with the rescue to do a meet and greet with the two dogs in a neutral place, like a park or a shopping mall parking lot in a quiet corner. Never bring the new dog to your house unless you can meet outside and down the street from where you live. Dogs can be territorial, some breeds more than others, and you want to first see if the two dogs get along in a neutral place. Always keep them leashed and allow them to sniff each other. Never pull on the leash or do anything that could make the dogs feel tense. Of course, if there is any behavior exhibited that is troublesome, such as growling or lunging, then be sure to separate the dogs and consider bringing another dog into your home.
If the dogs do get along, the next step is to bring them both to your home. If you have a yard, the best thing to do is to take them into the yard, still on the leash, and see how the dogs act in this environment. If they are still getting along, the next step would be to bring the dogs into your home.
Always keep the dogs on leashes to make it easier to move them away from each other should either dog exhibit troublesome behavior.
If the meet and greet goes well, you will probably decide to adopt the new dog. Your work has not ended yet!
It takes a dog from two weeks to a month to show their real nature once they get into your home. During that time be sure to keep anything valuable out of reach of the dog. Put away TV remotes, favorite shirts, keys and sneakers and shoes. You never know if the dog you’ve adopted will decide that one of these things is a nice chew toy.
It’s a good idea to crate train your new family member so that both dogs are safe when you are not at home to supervise them. This is also a good idea if your new dog hasn’t gotten the hang of house training at your house. New dogs will sometimes have accidents due to nerves or from not being on a regular schedule at the shelter. Give your new friend time to adjust and don’t make a big issue out of the accidents. Once you get them on a schedule, the accidents will become less and less.
Don’t bring a lot of people into your home for the first few weeks after you get a new dog. Lots of activity will just overwhelm a dog who is trying to adjust to a new home, new schedule and new people. It can be hard for some people who want to show off their friend to their family and friends, but remember – you must do what’s best for your new dog – you will have plenty of time to show him off once he’s adjusted to his new home.
Take time to allow your new pet to get used to his new home and new people, and introduce him to new people slowly. If you notice any issues with shyness or aggression towards strangers, be sure to engage the services of a professional trainer. Don’t try and go it alone, there is help out there for you.
Remember, the main thing is to enjoy the company of your new pet and get help if you need it!