Dogs are territorial animals, so when acquainting two dogs in the home, it’s important to be allow them to familiarize themselves with each other in a safe, productive way. If already have a dog and you’re bringing home a new canine chum, acquaint them in stages.
Before the Introduction
Bring a piece of bedding belonging to the new dog to the house and introduce the established dog to the scent. As you do this, praise the dog and give him a treat. This way, the scent will be familiar when he finally meets the new dog. He’ll also associate the scent with the positive feeling of receiving praise.
Take a piece of bedding belonging to the established dog and introduce it to the new dog.
Put two crates in the same room, but at the other end. Position both crates so the dogs can see each other.
Put the established dog in his crate and give him a toy to chew on. Crating the dogs before full introduction is useful because the crates provide a feeling of familiarity and security.
Have a friend or person known to the new dog bring the dog to the house and put him in the crate. Leave the dogs in their crates for about 20 minutes.
Remove the new dog from the crate and take him for a walk around the house on a leash. Then have your friend take him a for 10-minute walk around the block.
Let the established dog out of the crate and allow him to sniff around where the new dog has been.
Remove both crates from the room.
The Physical Introduction
Arrange furniture and leave doors open so that both dogs can exit the room easily. Introductions can be stressful for dogs, so it’s important they can remove themselves from the situation at any point. This is most important when unleashing the dogs.
Make the first introduction. Have your friend return with the new dog on a leash. The established dog should be on his leash too. If the dogs strain at the leashes, growl or otherwise show aggression toward each other, gently pull the dogs apart and allow them to calm down. Allow the dogs to investigate each other for a period of 20 minutes while on leash.
Separate the dogs. Take the new dog into another room and close the door.
Reintroduce the dogs. When you feel the dogs are happy in each other’s presence, remove the leashes and allow them interact more freely. Do not leave the dogs unsupervised. Monitor their body language in order to preempt any aggressive behavior by separating the dogs. Look out for ears tucked back, staring, lip licking and still tails. As the dogs become acquainted, they’ll gradually become calmer and more tolerant of each other. Repeat the controlled introduction once or twice every few days.
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.