Introducing a New Dog
April 1, 2012
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bringing home a new dogWhile many dogs can learn to accept and grow to love the company of their canine housemates, it’s natural for a dog to become aggressive or jealous when a new dog enters his territory.

Dogs are pack animals and their genetic pack instinct is often triggered when an unfamiliar dog enters their home – causing them to initiate rank drive. Many owners are often shocked and confused when they see their naturally lovable dog enter an unusual level of aggression.

To prevent fights and incompatibility problems between the resident dog and the new dog, there are several things you can do.

Introducing A New Dog

  • Consider Sex and Age of Each Dog

In general, a dog will get along better with a dog of the opposite sex. If you plan to introduce your resident dog to a new dog of the same sex, it’s best to get the resident dog sprayed or neutered prior to introduction. Spaying and neutering typically only works to reduce dominant behavior if performed before a certain age – usually 6 to 8 months of age. Adult dogs will usually tolerate a puppy over another adult dog because puppies do not typically challenge the authority of an adult dog.

  • Set Up an Initial Meeting in Neutral Territory

Dogs are less likely to initiate aggressive or dominate behavior if introduced in a neutral territory. It may be ideal to have both dogs meet at a local dog part or at a friend’s house in a fenced-in yard. Each dog should be leashed and allowed to observe one another. Leave a decent amount of space between the dogs so that they do not feel overcrowded and can relax. Once the dogs seem comfortable with one another, allow them to interact without the leashes and always praise them for good behavior.

  • Keep a Positive and Non-Emotional Attitude

When a new dog is introduced to a resident dog, it’s important to maintain a non-emotional attitude. Dogs can pick up on fear and will know if you are feeling concerned and may associate the change of emotions on the new dog. As the two dogs are interacting, speak in a calm, friendly manner to positively reinforce their positive interaction. The goal is to make both dogs feel good when they are in each other’s presence. Never leave the dogs alone during a first introduction to avoid dog fighting.

  • Reinforce the Established Pack Order

When introducing two dogs, it’s best to allow them to establish their own pack order. While the older dog commonly takes the place as the most dominate, this is not always the case and a younger dog may become more dominate. Reinforce the established pack order as much as possible. The dog that is higher in the pack should be fed meals and given treats before the second dog. It’s never a good idea to adopt a sympathetic attitude towards the lower-ranked dog, especially towards the beginning of the relationship, as this can destroy the unity and could lead to a dog fight or aggressive behavior.

Introducing a new dog to a household with a resident dog can cause some initial friction. There will be a period of adjustment for both the animals and their owners, but with patience and a sense of control over both dogs, the introduction could be the start of a wonderful new relationship.

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