If you have a dog and a new one is coming to visit or enter your house, there are a few things you can do to make the meeting go smoothly. A new dog could indicate that you are welcoming a foster or new family member into your home, that someone with a dog is moving in, or that someone with a dog is paying you a visit. Despite the fact that dogs are social animals and enjoy being with other dogs, there are occasions when bringing a new dog into the family can be difficult.
This is what it looks like to introduce a new dog.
Some dogs get along well with cats, while others are actually unable to do so. A dog may be able to coexist with certain cats (depending on their age, disposition, and level of activity) but not with others. Even if your dog has previously lived successfully with cats, it’s important to note that each dog and cat is unique, so each introduction will be different.
When a New Dog is Introduced to Another or Your Current Dog
It’s normal to feel anxious and excited when you introduce a new dog to your current one. You should schedule every step of the operation, from the dogs’ first meeting to the steps you’ll take to keep the peace for the first few months, to ensure a smooth transition.
To introduce dogs to each other, follow these steps:
1) Choose a neutral location for introductions
Find a neutral, outdoor, completely fenced room that neither dog has “claimed” by repeated visits or walks if at all possible. The location should be peaceful and devoid of other dogs or people, such as a friend’s backyard or a park during off-peak hours when no one is around.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible, so the next best option is an outdoor space with enough space for the dogs to roam freely while they get to know each other. If you don’t have any outdoor space, a large garage or basement is a good option.
Remove everything that could spark a battle, such as dog toys, bones, beds, and even empty food bowls. Consider all, including things that don’t seem to pique your dog’s interest. If your new dog becomes interested in an old bone, it can instantly become valuable again.
- Watch for positive dog body language
Since the dog introduction process starts with both dogs on a leash, you’ll need someone to assist you who is familiar with canine body language. Without hard looks, tense postures, frozen in place, or a lowered or tucked tail, look for relaxed, waggy body language and interest in one another.
Look for signs that one dog is attempting to flee, which are often overlooked or misunderstood. If your dog approaches you, don’t yank them back “into the fire,” as this is normally a sign that he or she wants a break from the interaction.
If you’re not sure how the dogs are interacting during this first phase, or if you’re not sure what your dogs’ actions mean, hire a trainer to assist you with the introduction.
- Walk the dogs together
The next move after adopting a new dog is parallel walking with both dogs. They should be far enough apart to notice each other, but not so close that they become obsessed with trying to meet each other. Both dogs should be walked in the same direction with a comfortable distance between them (this will vary by a dog). Turn around and swap positions with the other dog-human team so that each dog can smell where the other dog walked.
Allow the dogs to search potential potty spots, as one of the ways dogs learn about other dogs is by urine sniffing. Both handlers should maintain a relaxed demeanor and maintain a light grip on the leashes.
If both dogs are behaving in a calm, social manner with each other, gradually, the distance between them will shorten while continuing to walk parallel. As the dogs get closer, don’t allow a direct face-to-face approach, as this is a stressful and unnatural way for dogs to interact.
- Allow the dogs to interact off-leash
Return to an enclosed space, drop the leashes and let the dogs play if you’re comfortable with how they’re interacting. Allow the dogs to sniff each other for a few minutes while praising their calm interactions, and then persuade them to keep going with you for a final, brief stroll.
The dogs will continue sniffing to learn more about each other at this stage, or they may begin to play. Look for the universal dog invitation to connect, which is a play bow with the dog’s elbows on the ground and their back end in the air. Look for signs of a respectful relationship as the dogs play: a reciprocal give-and-take with breaks in the action.
Bringing a New Dog into Your House
You should welcome your new dog to your home after you’ve introduced him to your resident pet. Instead of immediately getting all dogs home, have a helper take your resident dog for a walk. Then give your new dog a chance to explore his new home on his own.
When your new dog investigates, keep an eye on him. Bring him to an open area of your house, away from the front door, after he’s completed his inspection. In crowded areas, there can be jockeying for place and unintentional scuffles.
Pick up any dog toys, treats, beds, cherished possessions, or food that can cause conflict between the dogs once more. Then you should make your assistant bring in your resident dog. The new dog should also be taught rules for living in the house.
After Introducing a New Dog to the Family, Everyday Life
As the dogs get used to each other, try to keep the household calm. On the first day home, don’t throw a “welcome to the family crowd.” Maintain your resident dog’s normal everyday routine, and try to schedule one-on-one time with each dog, such as solo walks. Always be on the lookout for low growling, intense looks, and body blocking as indicators of brewing conflict between your dogs.
If you see any of these signals, you can take action right away. Distract the dogs by separating them and directing their attention to something else. Enable them at least 20-30 minutes away from each other before allowing them to engage again.
Here are some more helpful hints for keeping the peace after bringing dogs into the house:
- Body language of dogs
Here are several general body language indicators to look for to get a sense of where the conversation is going:
They are unlikely to become fast friends if they stiffen their bodies and look into each other’s eyes with their hair up and their teeth bared. Separate them if they lunge at each other and threaten to attack, and don’t try any more introductions without the guidance of a licensed professional behavior coach.
Some dogs should be the only pet in the house since they cannot safely communicate with other animals. Although most of these dogs may be trained to avoid other animals in public, they will never be able to communicate with them safely.
Keep alert if the dogs run up to each other, fur raised at their shoulders and at the base of their tail, and engage in noisy, raucous play. If the dogs do not know how to calm themselves down, this form of play will quickly escalate into a battle.
They may want to be best friends if they want to play by pawing or play-bowing with their legs spread out in front of them. Allow them to get to know one another and compliment them on each pleasant interaction.
Face-to-face greetings can be avoided. Many dogs, especially those who are afraid of or feel threatened by eye contact, find this form of greeting to be extremely stressful. Face-to-face greetings can cause these dogs to make poor decisions and bite out of fear or defensiveness. When dogs look into each other’s eyes for the first time, they should give a quick glance and then look away.
- Keep an eye on mealtimes
At mealtimes, keep your new dog and your existing dog apart. You may divide them with a dog gate or by placing their bowls in different rooms. Enable neither dog to hover while the other eats if one dog finishes first. Keep them apart until both dogs have licked their bowls clean to avoid tense situations. After each feeding, make sure to pick up the bowls.
- Each dog should have their own bed
Some dogs are possessive of their sleeping areas, so keep an eye on both dogs to make sure they’re behaving well around their beds. Even if a bed is large enough for both dogs to share, getting a separate bed for your new dog is a smart idea.
- Slowly introduce toys
After the first introduction, gradually reintroduce toys into the house rather than pulling out the whole toy chest at once. When your dog is testing out a new toy, always keep an eye on them. Look for playful interactions that don’t have guarding behaviors, such as standing over the toy or barking at the other dog if he comes too close.
- When you’re not at home, keep the dogs apart
The importance of alone time in the getting-to-know-you phase cannot be overstated. When you can’t watch your pets, whether you’re leaving the house for the day or just taking a shower, keep them apart. This not only keeps them safe but also allows them to spend time away from each other.
In the long run, it’s best to keep them together when someone is home and split them when no one is home. Everyone will be safer, and relationships will be more constructive as a result.
- Make playtime interruptions
Many dogs don’t know when to say “enough,” particularly when they’re having fun together. When dogs become overtired, however, their nonstop play can devolve into inappropriate behavior. Allowing the dogs to disconnect from each other helps them to unwind and regroup. Create separate spaces for each dog, either in different rooms or behind a dog fence, so they can be isolated. Dogs, like humans, need time away from their housemates.
- Keep your cool
It can take months for your new dog and resident dog to become truly comfortable with one another, so be patient with them as they adjust to their new lives as siblings. Recognize meaningful experiences with your dogs and take pleasure in seeing a lifelong relationship blossom.
Factors That May Have an Impact on How Well Dogs get Along
The meeting should be simple if you know both dogs are very friendly with a lot of other dogs. Some dogs, on the other hand, do not get out much and interact with other dogs or may have only had one or two dog mates in their lives.
Since these dogs may seem to have stronger social skills than they do, exposing them to new dogs may take more time and effort. Another thing to think about is whether the dogs have been spayed or neutered; if they haven’t, the meeting will be more complicated.
What Is the Best Way to Introduce a New Dog to a Cat?
Pay attention to all animals’ body language when introducing your dog to a cat. If the cat’s ears are pinned back, or his tail sways back and forth, it’s a clear indication that she’s upset. You should be particularly mindful of any dog body language that could be interpreted as a warning sign.
If your dog has a powerful prey drive (the need to search out, pursue, and possibly catch prey — typically smaller animals like cats or rabbits), he will become obsessed with the cat. He’ll become stiff and look and may even start barking or moaning. If you see these signs, keep him away from the cat. Around the cat, his body language should be loose and comfortable. It’s fine if he notices the cat, but you don’t want him to get fixated on her.
In addition, the way a dog interacts with a cat varies depending on the situation. Just because your dog gets along with the cat inside the house doesn’t mean he’ll do so outside. When they’re outside together, he might become fixated on the cat and begin stalking her. So, in a new scenario, be mindful of his body language around the cat before you know how he will respond to her.
Here are four steps that can help you ensure a successful meeting:
STEP 1: Select an appropriate location for the first meeting
For health and safety purposes, you should not take your cat to meet your new dog at a shelter or other institution that houses a large number of animals if you are adopting a dog. Instead, the presentation should take place at the individual’s residence.
If you’re adopting a cat, don’t take your dog to a shelter and introduce him to the other animals, as this can be very upsetting or painful for all of the cats. It’s also not really a strong predictor of how the dog would behave at home. Instead, inquire with the shelter’s adoption counselors about any dog-savvy, confident cats who might be willing to meet your dog under regulated circumstances.
If this isn’t feasible, another option is to introduce your dog to a dog-friendly cat who belongs to a friend or relative. You should carry your new kitty home and do an introduction there as a last resort.
STEP 2: Separate the animals
For a few days, rotate which animal has the freedom and which is restricted over a few days to give each animal plenty of time to explore the scent of the other.
To give the cat time to wander freely and explore the dog’s scent, the dog should be confined to a crate or another room (or taken to another location if he can’t be left alone). If the dog digs at the separation barrier or barks at the cat for more than a day or two, the interaction is unlikely to succeed unless the dog is well trained. You would need the assistance of a specialist.
When no one is at home, the dog or cat must be tightly confined to prevent unsupervised encounters.
You will move on to the next stage once the dog is quiet (or at least not concerned with the cat) and the cat is calm, eating, and using the litter box normally.
STEP 3: Make introductions with a leash
Allow both animals to be in the same place, but keep the dog leashed. Continue with this method of introduction until both the dog and the cat are quiet, feeding, and using the litter box normally. If any animal shows signs of fear or hostility, remain at step 2 for a little longer.
Continue until both the dog and the cat seem content and comfortable in each other’s presence. When no one is at home, the dog and cat should be safely separated into different areas to prevent unsupervised encounters.
STEP 4: Allow interactions without supervision
After the cat and dog have been supervised with each other for a significant period of time (a month or more), and you are certain they will not harm each other, you may give them unsupervised time together.
Handling an Unfriendly Dog
If the dog is staring at the cat or the door that separates the cat and you, try using treats, a cheerful voice, or softly pulling the dog away on a leash to distract him and get him to look away. Once the dog has gotten away from the cat, give him a treat. If he accepts it, repeat until he is no longer concentrated on the cat or the door.
Signs of Danger
This is most likely a dangerous match if the dog remains overly concentrated, does not take his gaze away from the cat or the door, completely ignores you, or lunges unexpectedly as soon as the cat moves. Try another dog if you’re looking for a dog for your resident pet. If this is your dog, a cat is definitely not a good idea.
This match is unlikely to succeed if the dog lunges at, growls at, bites at, or displays some provocation against a calm, quiet, still cat at any stage. When a cat hits a calm, quiet dog, the same thing happens. If you’re serious about making the relationship work, you’ll almost certainly need the help of a professional at this stage.
If your dog exhibits questionable behavior with a cat that is growling, hissing, and swatting, try again for a calmer cat. If he continues to act strangely around several cats, he should probably avoid living with them.
Introducing your pet to a new dog or animal can be hard, especially when you are doing it for the first time. Therefore, make sure you follow all the right tips to ensure your pawed friend can get along with his new sibling.