Introducing a new dog into your home can be an exciting and fun time for your human family but it can sometimes be a stressful time for the new dog and your current pets. The love that your furry companions give you is priceless so you need to have a plan and make preparations to introduce your new dog to your family and their forever home!
As a pet sitter and shelter volunteer I have had lots of experience introducing new dogs to my dogs and cats. Introducing your new dog should not be taken lightly. You should never bring a new pet into your family without the proper introductions first.
Check out these 7 helpful tips for introducing a new dog to your home.
Tip #1 - Do your research before introducing a new dog
Not every pet will be a good fit for your family so be sure to do your research on different breeds and their personalities, energy levels, etc. Be sure you and your family are up to the task if you get a high energy dog or a puppy because they take a lot of patience and work.
Dogs with lots of energy will require several walks and playtime each day so they will not get bored and become destructive.
Puppies require lots of potty breaks as well as physical and mental stimulation. The general rule of thumb is they can wait the same number of hours to pee as their age in months. For example, a two-month-old puppy should be let out to potty every two hours. We recommend following this guideline up until they are 8 months old for best results.
Tip #2 - Preparing your home for your new dog
The very first thing you need to do is make sure that your house is ready for your new dog. Be sure to do your homework and make sure your new pup has everything they need before they arrive, including their own bed, food and water bowls, dog food, treats, toys, etc. Ensure that they have everything they will need to make your house feel like their forever home.
On the day you bring your new dog home be sure to put away any toys, food bowls, etc. Some dogs are very protective of their “things” and may not like a newcomer taking their prized possessions.
Tip #3 - Give your new dog and existing pets some space
Make the first few days peaceful and calm for your new dog. We recommend containing them to one room or area in your home to allow them time to decompress and get used to their new surroundings.
If you adopt your dog from a shelter or rescue, they may need extra time to adjust to your home and your family. Just be patient with them and don't force interactions with other pets or children. Let them go at their own pace. Fear may cause your new dog to act out in an aggressive manner even if they're not an aggressive dog.
Once your new furry friend has had time to get used to their new surroundings, allow them to begin exploring the house slowly without the other pets around. Let them take their time and check things out on their terms, as they get to know you and your family. Let your new dog walk on all the different floor surfaces, sniff around, and let them explore the yard on their own.
Tip #4 - Have controlled initial introductions of your new dog to existing pets
It’s always a good idea to bring something home with the new dog’s scent on it first, if you are able. Rub a shirt or towel on the new pup and bring it home so your existing pets can smell and get used to the scent before actually meeting the new pup.
If you currently have dogs, you should first introduce the new dog to them separately, in a neutral place outside of your home and walk them together. It’s a good idea to have two adults present for this initial meeting and have one walk the new dog while the other walks the existing dog.
Walk them on a loose leash and parallel to one another but keep some distance between them. Allow them to sniff one another periodically and watch their body language. If you notice any stiffness, raised hair, growling, or intense staring separate them immediately and continue to walk. Keep repeating this exercise until they are relaxed around one another.
If they have a good interaction be sure to praise them both to let them know this is the behavior you expect from them. Dogs really just want to please their humans after all.
If you currently have cats or other small pets, you need to monitor their interactions with the new dog very closely until you are sure each pet feels comfortable and safe.
You may also want to consider putting up a baby gate to prevent the new pup from accessing areas where the cat hangs out, eats, and uses the litter box. Cats need to have a safe place to retreat if they feel uncomfortable or frightened.
Pet parents should remain vigilant and supervise all interactions closely. During the first few weeks, we recommend separating your pets when you're not home until both are fully calm and peaceful. It's best if you crate train your new dog right away so they have a safe place when you're not home.
Taking the time to prepare for the first introduction of your new dog and other existing pets will go a long way to long-term peace and harmony in the home.
Tip #5 - Give everyone time
Go slow! Let all the household pets adjust at their own pace. Animals need some time to get to know each other's scents. Introduce the new dog slowly and carefully. If the initial introduction steps don’t go as planned, back up and start from the beginning. Remember, it takes time for them to be comfortable around one another. And different pets have different comfort levels. Be patient and don’t give up on them.
If you have a fenced yard where you let your dogs out be sure to supervise them every time until you're sure they are all comfortable with one another.
Tip #6 - Always supervise interaction between pets and children
Both pets and children need rules to live by. Kids need to be taught when it is okay to approach a pet and when to leave it alone. Teach your kids how to properly and respectfully interact with and touch pets.
A child should never be allowed to pull tails or ears or physically harm your pets in any way. You should never leave your children unsupervised with any pet, even if the pet is docile and friendly.
The last thing you want is for your child to get scratched or even bitten by a pet or for a pet to get hurt.
Tip #7 - Give equal love to all pets in your home
Give all pets in the household lots of love and attention. Your existing pets need extra attention and reassurance to help them feel more secure. You also need to make sure your new dog is comfortable as they adjust to their new environment. If all your pets remain calm and get along well, you should reward them for good behavior.
What if your pets don't get along with the new dog right away?
If your pets don’t end up hitting it off at first just keep trying the steps above. Consider setting up an arrangement where you can keep them separated for the long term. You can also hire a trainer or behaviorist to work with your pets.
Don’t ever punish any pet for not getting along well with other pets in your house. It will not help and it could backfire and make things much worse. Growling, hissing, or trying to fight with each other are completely normal behaviors when animals meet for the first time.
All pets experience some level of stress when they're introduced to new homes and family members, including other pets. Each pet deserves a pet parent who has time, energy, resources, and patience to welcome them happily into their life. So be sure you get a dog that is a good fit for your family and your lifestyle. Your thoughtful choices will make your home a more peaceful and playful place for your pet.
Keep in mind that consistent and persistent guidance and training from you and your family members will let all of your pets know what you expect from them.
We understand that you want the best for your pet. Kimberly’s Kritter Care provides a safe, comfortable, fun, and healthy environment for all your furry friends. We provide daily midday dog walks and potty breaks while you’re working and in-home visits with your pets while you’re out of town. Check out our services and sign up today so we can help to socialize your pets and provide them with physical and mental stimulation.
If you have other suggestions on introducing a new dog or a story about your new family member, please let us know in the comments below.