The Humane Society says that about 40% of dog households have more than one dog, and the majority of those dog owners (28%) have two dogs. That’s entirely understandable because dog people simply love dogs. After all, what’s not to love? Kisses, wagging tails, and cuddles from our furbabies are very hard to resist. And if it’s great to have one dog, wouldn’t two be twice as wonderful? You may think so, but what does your dog think?
Here are 5 tips for introducing a new dog to an existing dog household, and 5 more on what to do if your pups just aren’t getting along.
Bringing A New Dog Home
Suppose your husband (or wife) said to you, I love you so much that I think having two wives (or husbands) would be even better! You probably wouldn’t be so enthusiastic about the addition to your family, would you? That’s kind of what it’s like for our current furbabies when we decide to add to our canine family members. Even if Fido’s an outgoing dog, bringing a new dog home can still get his nose out of joint. Here’s what to do to make the transition from single dog family to multi-dog family a pleasant and successful one.
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1. First impressions are important
A friend or other family member is needed for this crucial first step, each of you handling a different dog. You’ll want to introduce the dogs to each other in a neutral territory, so choose a place your existing dog doesn’t normally walk or play, such as a dog park you haven’t visited before. When Fido doesn’t think he has to protect his territory, he’s more apt to welcome the advances of a new dog. Don’t introduce a new dog in the current dog’s home!
2. Take a long walk together
Keeping the humans between the dogs on a long walk after their time together in a dog park is the next step to creating a successful multi-dog family. With both dogs on leash and with people forming a barrier between them, they have the chance to get used to each other’s company without stress.
3. Home, sweet home
After the walk, it’s time to introduce the new dog to his new home. The order in which you enter the house is very important. People go first, current dog goes next, and new dog takes up the rear. This creates an atmosphere of invitation rather than invasion.
4. Establishing who is the boss
Not all dogs are alpha dogs. Sometimes the current dog will happily allow the newcomer to take over as the boss, once he is established in the home. However, it is imperative that you allow the dogs themselves to make that decision, rather than automatically trying to install the first dog as the leader. In my home, our oldest dog doesn’t want to be the pack leader, and is perfectly happy to let someone else have that position—after he has welcomed the stranger on his own terms.
5. What’s mine is mine
Be sure to feed dogs separately, preferably in crates or in different rooms. Don’t expect them to eat from the same bowl, share the same bed, or play with the same toys. The same is true of giving them raw bones or high-value treats; resource guarding should be prevented rather than trying to correct this difficult and potentially dangerous behavior.
When Doggy Brothers Don’t Get Along
Sometimes, even when they’ve been living together for some time, doggy siblings still don’t always get along. Regardless of what it looks like, though, there is only one reason for aggression between dogs—stress.
1. Identify stressors
If one dog’s stressor isn’t the other dog, then recognizing what is will help immensely in calming a disquieting environment. Look for the thing that immediately preceded the altercation. Most likely, that’s the stressor, whether it is the mailman delivering mail, mealtime, or a cat walking on the fence in the backyard. When one dog reacts to a stressor (say barking and rushing at the window), the other dog may perceive it as a threat and jump into action. See what you can do to eliminate the stress trigger. For instance, close curtains or blinds when it’s time for the mail delivery.
2. Increase exercise
Exercised dogs are happy dogs. Not only does it act as a release for energy, but exercise also releases endorphins and norepinephrine, “feel good” chemicals that make your dog happier. Dogs who have enough exercise rarely fight.
3. You are what you eat
Consider what you’re feeding your dog. Poor quality protein interferes with his ability to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and sleep. A high-quality protein source is essential to his well-being and thus his perception of stress.
4. Back to the basics
Teaching your dogs basic obedience commands can be fun for all of you. Joining a puppy training class or working on your own or with a trainer can help your dogs understand their world better. And when things are understood, they become predictable. Predictability lessens stress.
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5. Ahhhh… relax
Massages are wonderful for both humans and their furbabies. Simply petting your dog helps, but TTouch can be learned easily and can relax a dog that is at the end of his rope. Dogs can also benefit from aromatherapy, and adding a drop or two of lavender to a bandana or on his bedding can help to create a calming atmosphere.
Probably the most important thing you can do, whether you are introducing a new puppy or trying to maintain a good relationship between doggy siblings, is use a calming, authoritative voice. When you have to be gone from home, setting up a Furbo® Dog Camera can allow you to talk to your dogs even though you’re not there. Your soothing voice might be all it takes to calm a stressful situation and bring calm.
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