Dog-to-Dog Introductions

When you already have a dog and you're bringing a new dog home, you want to make sure the introduction goes well and avoid setting up future conflict.   Making some preparations before you get home and setting your dogs up for positive interactions during their first few weeks together will go a long way toward a harmonious long-term relationship.

If you are adopting a new dog from the shelter, we recommend bringing your dog with you to the shelter and introducing the dogs to see how they get along, before you finalize the adoption. 
 
Before You Bring the New Dog Home 
  • Pick up all toys, chews, bones, food dishes, and your resident dog's favorite things. These things could cause squabbles between the dogs at first; you can bring them out again later. 
  • Make sure you're prepared with food dishes, water bowls, beds, and so on for both dogs. Don't assume they'll share. 
 
What to Do 
  • As the dogs get to know each other, watch carefully for body postures -- such as hair standing up, teeth baring, stiff-legged gaits, deep growls or prolonged stares -- that indicate an aggressive response. Interrupt these displays by calmly and positively distracting each dog's attention to something else.
  • Introduce the dogs in a neutral place rather than in your yard or house. Take the dogs for a walk through the neighborhood or park together before you bring them home, letting them sniff and investigate each other at intervals.   Make sure you have at least one person to handle each leash.If you have more than one resident dog in your household, it may be a good idea to introduce them one at a time. Two or more resident dogs may "gang up" on the newcomer.
  • When the dogs are interacting well, let them know with praise and happy talk. Keep the whole introduction light and positive. 
  • Keep the dogs separate when you can't supervise their interactions. Each dog should have their own confinement area. Also, separate the dogs completely for feeding.
  • Keep play sessions short and fun; if the dogs get overstimulated, spats can erupt. 
  • Spend time with each dog individually as well. 
This material used with permission from The Sacramento SPCA.