Whether it's adding a new furbaby to your family or a short staycation at your neighbour's house, it is important to ensure that right actions are enforced from the start! Once a mistake or mishap happens, it will be difficult to make things right again. Remember to prepare yourself by reading this guide to ensure the two dogs live comfortably together! :)
Dogs are naturally wary around situations they aren’t accustomed to. If a dog grew up in singular isolation, never encountering other animals, children or people (besides the owners), sudden immersion into social situations often causes anxiety.
The situation is even worse for an animal abused or attacked during development; this creature is likely to respond with fear, possibly even lash out in defence. Most dogs begin developing social skills while interacting with litter mates during the first 4-8 weeks of life. Unfortunately, some breeders separate the animals at too young an age, before this can properly take place.
Socialization is exactly what the word implies; introducing a dog to social situations. Promote enjoyable interactions; show your pet other animals aren’t a threat! It’s best to begin this process during puppyhood. If at all possible, introduce a new dog to each existing dog individually before bringing him home. It is easier to quell problems, if they do arise, between two animals as opposed to 4-6.
Walking Your Dog
Walking your dogs, both present and newcomer, together is a good way to attack the socialization beast! This is a great, low-key activity that allows both dogs to familiarize themselves with one another on neutral ground!
Tip 1: Both dogs should be leashed, loosely if possible.
Tip 2: One person per dog.
Tip 3: Offer frequent praise to both dogs.
Tip 4: Keep the first meeting brief, slowly extending the duration.
‘Bite inhibition’ is a concept relating to how much pressure a dog will apply when grabbing/biting. A dog’s hide can naturally endure quite a bit more than human skin before breaking; a pet who doesn’t learn this concept could cause injury.
Most dogs learn ‘soft mouth’ during puppyhood, again with their litter mates. As for humans, you can further reinforce on this idea! When you are playing ‘tug of war’ with your pet, your pet may accidentally miss the rope and bites down on your hand. Even if it didn’t hurt much, pretend it did; act injured, and immediately cease playing. Feign a loud ‘yip’ instantly and stop playing. Your dog wouldn't want to stop playing with you, eventually he will learn to avoid your skin! Be careful not to yell at or chastise your dog for the accident. He may not want to play with you at all next time.
2. Train Dogs Separately
Training dogs can seem difficult or complicated for first timers, or anyone inexperienced. Attempting to train multiple dogs at the same time only compounds that difficulty! It is a good idea, if possible, to make sure existing pets are well-trained before deciding to adopt more.
Separate Food Dishes
To prevent resource guarding or food aggression, it is best to feed dogs separately, or offer each his own food dish. Unlike simply allowing your dogs to ‘free feed’, this ensures they don’t eat too much!
3. Stay Positive
Keep a positive, upbeat outward appearance, no matter what you are feeling. Dogs communicate mainly via various visual cues, and are often better at reading your body language than most people. If you lose your cool or become overly emotional, your canine viewers are likely going to think that something is wrong, and become anxious themselves. This is something you absolutely do not want when trying to introduce new animals!
Keep a careful eye on the body language of the dogs you are introducing. Raised hackles at first are natural, but be wary if teeth are being bared, you hear growling, one or the other is noticeably cowering or even crouching with a tucked tail, etc. Dogs will almost always give off clear visual ‘signals of intent’ before acting out. Watching for them can help you prevent unwanted altercations!
If either animal is showing signs of anxiety, you’re going to want to move slowly and carefully, using a technique called counter-conditioning! Your goal is to show the nervous dog other animals aren’t threats, and mean good things! Accompany interactions with high valued treats, plenty of praise, and keep visits short with a slow progression. Whatever you do, be sure not to force anything, or make any other negative associations!
‘Counter Conditioning’ basically means you are accompanying something your pet doesn’t like with something he does. Eventually he should begin to like the ‘bad thing’ because it means he gets the ‘good thing’ he wants!
4. Prepare Yourself
What breeds will you be housing & caring for? What are their energy requirements? Are you prepared to feed all of your dogs, and pay for regular vet checkups? Do you have a fenced in yard, or can otherwise offer enough room for them to roam around and work off excess energy? Many people adopt before fully preparing themselves for possible outcomes. Make sure you are ready for anything your little fur-kids can dish out! Do remember to also check if your new family member is neutered or spayed? :)
Crate training is a good idea, as it is often used to augment potty training. The basic idea is: the dog (usually puppy) is crated when he can’t be leashed at your side. Dogs usually won’t relieve themselves where they sleep if it can be helped. This both allows you to catch any mistakes your pup might make, run him outside, and make sure your puppy remains safe in an enclosure while he can’t be observed.
Potty training is easiest to attempt with one dog at a time. For this reason, it is ideal the first dog be trained before introducing another! :) It is always nice to have more than one furkid in your house but make sure you are ready and fully prepared for it! Loads of homework to be done, but don't forget to create a unique dog name for your new family member! :)