Tips for Bringing a Second Dog Home


Thinking about doubling your doggie pleasure? Here are some tips for those who are thinking about bringing a second canine home to join the family:

1. Make introductions slowly. Don’t throw two dogs together in a car, house or yard and assume it will be all roses. If you bring the new dog directly into your home, your first dog may feel that his territory is threatened and could react defensively or aggressively. Introduce the dogs on neutral territory – in a park, for example – not in your home.

2. While making the first introduction, keep both dogs on a leash to give you control if one becomes aggressive. (You hold your dog’s leash – have a friend hold the other.)

3. Keep the dogs separated by a gate or side-by-side crates the first week or so. This allows them to get used to each other slowly.

4. Keep a positive attitude and speak calmly so the experience is pleasant for the dogs. You can give treats for good behavior. Timing and a connection to the good behavior is crucial to make the dogs remember and understand what is desired.

5. Dogs determine their social ranking through a set of behaviors, which include body postures and vocalizations that usually do not result in injury. Examples of these behaviors include: one dog “standing over” the other, placing his paws or neck on the shoulders of the other; lip licking; mounting; and rolling over. Some dogs may take toys away from other dogs and insist on being petted first or having control over food and sleep areas.

Canines should be allowed to determine among themselves who is the top dog. If the dogs get into conflict, don’t step in too soon as this may bring some unresolved conflict to the next encounter. 

When the conflict is over, give attention to the winner and this will help reinforce the hierarchy just established by the dogs themselves. Once it's established, the competition to be top dog should stop.

6. If you do need to break up a fight, use a water bottle and squirt the dogs or make a loud noise to interrupt them. Never break up a dog fight by grabbing the collars or getting any part of you in between them. Touching dogs while they are fighting can result in “redirected aggression,” where a dog may bite you because he thinks you are part of the conflict.

7. If the dogs have an accident in the house, simply clean it up without comment. Again, this should stop once the hierarchy is established. Give the new dog more opportunities to go outside to relieve himself until he becomes used to your routine and schedule. If either dog starts to urine-mark inside the house, consider a behaviorist.

8. Give your first dog the same amount of affection he received in the past. Don't give him a reason to be jealous. If he got a walk or a play session before, continue that. The less his routine is disrupted, the better.

9. Each dog should have his own food and water dishes, with space between them. Food can be one of the most competitive things for dogs – feed them separately if you have any doubts about their relationship.

10. Remember change is stressful for both dogs. Do not overwhelm them with visitors those first days in your home. If your first dog is crate-trained, it is best to do the same with the new dog (in a separate crate). Dogs are den animals; properly crating a dog in a correctly sized enclosure under reasonable time limits is not cruel and may help the animal feel safe and secure.

11. Within a few weeks, the dogs should be getting along nicely. They should be happy to have each other as pack members. At that point, you should all be one big happy two-dog family.