Once you’ve decided to get another dog, you’ll want to take introductions as slowly as possible. Sara McLoudrey, CDBC, CPDT-KSA, suggests a 3-part introduction process: Introductions, interactions, and cohabitation. If you’re still considering getting a dog, you’ll want to read the first part of this series.
Slow and Steady: Introducing a New Dog to your Current Dog
Introductions (Step 1)
Introductions do not necessarily mean interactions!
You’ll want to take it slow and steady, ideally in a neutral location. You’ll also want to make sure you’re working on in-house separation for your introductions to make sure everything is safe (and for possibly longer than you anticipate). This might mean keeping the dogs separate between a baby gate for months.
If things are looking good, keep taking it slow. If things are looking bad, keep taking it slow.
Signs your dogs are ready to interact include loose body language, low arousal, calm curiosity across a barrier, or the ability to relax near each other.
Interactions (Step 2)
Once you feel confident that your dogs are ready to interact, you can try facilitating safe interactions.
First interactions might look like: parallel walks where the dogs are not necessarily greeting each other but they're seeing each other in a variety of settings. Games with your dogs together where you reward them for politely waiting for treats. You can also try interactions where each dog is leashed but their leashes are dragging. This allows you some control over the interaction if things start to go south.
Signs You need to slow down the interactions
Fixation or staring at each other
Vocalization (barking at the other dog)
Excessive jumping (One dog may start jumping at you, trying to get out of the situation)
Turning away, avoidance, or disengagement (dogs avoiding each other)
Cohabitation (Step 3- You’ve Made It!)
Once you have enough positive interactions, you’re ready to take things to the next level. However, you’ll always want to give the dogs appropriate supervision. This means you are proactively managing your dogs and ready to recall them or send them to a safe spot if they’ve had too much.
Maintenance of Multi-Dog Households
In a multi-dog household you should have:
Set meal times
Multiple water bowls in different spots of the house
Resting places for each dog
Sleeping space for each dog
Areas in your home where you might encounter issues with your dogs
Things to look out for when your dogs are new to cohabitating:
Tight spaces (Couches and tables, doorways, corners, kitchen, hallways)
Visitors + Deliveries (Can raise arousal levels)
Resources (Beds, chews, toys, space, people)
Exciting actions by people (kids, people who are upset, wheeled object)
Changes in the household
It’s always best practice to take the time to do it right from the beginning. It’s much easier to be proactive in the beginning rather than having to repair damaged relationships.
This blog was based on a webinar given by Sara McLoudrey, CDBC, CPDT-KSA. You can find the recording here.
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