So You Want a Dog Part 4: Introducing the new dog into your Home

We’re on day 4 of the dog series.  Today, we’ll talk about how to introduce your new dog to your home.  I’ll talk about general home comings as well as introducing a new dog to other pets.

Bringing Puppy Home

You want to make sure you dog proof your house.  Gone are the days of open garbage cans in the kitchen and toys left on the floor.  Cover the garbage, even better, put it in a cupboard.  Pick up the toys off the floor and keep them that way. It takes very little time for a dog to chew up a favorite toy and then there will be tears, the kids because of the toy and you because of the vet bill to remove now stuck toy.

Bring your new dog home on a leash. I’ll be saying leash a lot. It keeps your dog safe and out of harm’s way, while still allowing a little exploration.  Allow them to explore your house, but keep an eye on them.  When you’re comfortable, you can allow supervised off leash exploration.

Crate train your dog:  This is so important, no matter the age of your new dog or if it’s potty trained.  Crate training means getting a dog crate that allows just enough room for your dog to turn around in, and then putting your dog in the crate when you leave your home and at bedtime.  The crate becomes their security den, a place they feel safe and comfortable. It takes a little bit of time with some dogs who bark or whine and try to escape, but it’s well worth the time.  The crate is where you can leave your dog when you leave the house to make sure it doesn’t get into any trouble.  You can put the dog in the crate when work people come over to keep the dog out of the way and the workers not worried about getting bit.  It’s also sometimes medically necessary to rest your dog, especially if there is an orthopedic problem.  A crate trained dog makes that oh so much easier to do. Also, dogs instinctively don’t go to the bathroom in their dens, so as long as your reasonable about the time you leave them in their crate, you aren’t going to have accidents around the house.

Get a collar with an I.D. and a microchip at the vet.  The microchip is a permanent I.D. implanted under the skin. It’s like a big shot, no anesthesia is used.  Once you register your dog (don’t forget that part), if your dog is lost and loses it’s collar, the microchip is still there so you can be reunited.

Introducing Two Dogs

Leashes for everyone.  Both dogs, new and old, should be on leash so they can be easily separated if they don’t like each other. Most of the time, the current dog has a favorite person.  That person maintains control of the current dog and another person introduces the new dog.  Allow the dogs to sniff each other as long as they aren’t growling.  If there is growling, keep them separated, maybe by a screen door, so they can smell and see each other without being able to touch.  Go slowly and make sure both dogs seem comfortable before attempting an off leash meeting.

Ideally, you would introduce the dogs in a neutral location rather than at home where the current dog feels it’s territory is being invaded.

Always keep the dogs separated when not under direct supervision so no one gets out of control.  (See how handy crate training would be in this situation.)

Always keep food up and ideally feed them in separate rooms.  Food is often the cause of fighting between dogs, so don’t tempt fate by leaving it on the floor.  Each dog needs their own bowl.  Feeding separately is a good idea in general as well.  Eating has social implications with dogs and one dog may feel intimidated eating around another.  It also allows for feeding separate diets, like senior and puppy food, or a special needs diet to only one pet.

Introducing Two Similar Sized Dogs

Procede with caution.  Keep them supervised.  Hopefully one will take the submissive role naturally and you’ll be good to go. If not, expect a little tussling when working it out.  If they are doing a little growling and mouthing, that’s to be expected. Biting that leaves marks or out right fighting requires immediate separation and a cool off period.

Whatever you do, do not dominance roll one of them.  That’s a fallacy that’s been perpetuated by well-meaning trainers based on the idea that wolves do it in the wild.  That is not the case.  Wolves submit to each other in their own pack and that’s what you want your dogs to do.  Looking away, turning their back on another dog, baring their neck, or rolling onto their backs is submissive behavior.  Wolves do not force their own pack members onto their backs.  That is an aggressive behavior reserved for fighting between packs. Don’t be a bully to your own dog, especially one who is most likely already submissive to you.  It really confuses the dog when it’s being submissive and is met with very aggressive behavior and can escalate the situation.

Introducing Big and Small dogs

Same rules apply, but make sure you’re extra careful.  One bite from a big dog can be fatal to a little dog.  You may want to hold the little dog.  That’s fine as long as the little dog doesn’t act aggressive towards the big one when you do.  Growling and barking is not cute, it’s aggressive behavior and it gets the little dog put on the ground with a leash.

When we introduced our big dog to our new little dog, I held the collar of our big dog and let the little dog approach her.  That allowed the little dog to feel out the situation and kept her safe, while not having our big dog leashed. When two dogs are together and one is leashed and the other is not, it’s can be very stressful for the leashed dog who cannot get away and feels trapped. You can see aggressive behavior in that situation.

Introducing a Dog to a Cat

Dog is leashed. Cats have adequate space to run away and places to hide that the dog can’t get to.  The cat may never like the dog and you can’t force it.  You need to make sure there are both high and low places for your cat to go to get away from the dog. Again, never leave them unsupervised together. (Crate your dog if you’re not around.)

Keep the cat food up where the dog can’t reach it and the litter box somewhere the dog can’t reach as well.  Two reasons for that. First, the cat may not eat or use the litter box if it feels threatened by the dog.  Second, dogs like to eat out of both cat food dishes and litter boxes.  Not a good situation

Introducing A Dog To Exotic Pets

Never leave a dog unsupervised with an exotic pet.  One bite from any size dog can be fatal either immediately or due infection to an exotic.   It’s just not worth the risk.  You need to be very careful if you want your dog to interact with other animals. Ideally, that interaction would be that the other pet could be out of their cage and the dog ignores them.

We’re currently working on introducing our dogs to the chickens.  Our big dog is doing fairly well.  She’s interested, but will listen when I call her.  Our new puppy is surprisingly fast for a dog with a broken leg and not keen on listening yet.  We’re working on it.

I think that about covers it.  Anything I missed that you have questions about? I’m happy to answer any questions.

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