A New Dog in the House: Beyond the Introduction
If you are adding a new dog or long-term visitor to the household, there is much more to harmonious living beyond the initial introduction. Even if resident pets tolerate the newcomer, there are additional steps the owner must take in order to ensure peaceful coexistence.
One of the worst mistakes a dog owner can make is to assume that since the initial introduction went well there will be smooth sailing thereafter. While this may be the case for some dogs, in reality there are many pets that will display some jealousy, resource guarding, or general brattiness. It is always better to be on the safe side and start small. Praise your dogs whenever they are behaving well, even if simply sitting on the couch next to one another.
Expect a Few Scuffles
The main way that dogs interact with one another is through assertion of hierarchy. In the first few days, the dogs will determine which is dominant and which is subordinate by barking, “correcting,” humping, or nipping. This is normal canine behavior; however, owners should use vigilance to make sure aggression doesn’t escalate.
In the first few days after introducing the new pet, supervise both dogs closely. Situations will arise that you will need to monitor. For instance, if the new dog approaches the resident dog’s favorite toy, you should observe the reaction. Issues may come up that you had not considered, such as both dogs going for a crumb on the floor at the same time, which may be dangerous if not caught immediately.
Separate when Alone
Until you fully understand the quirks of your dogs when they are together, keep them separated when you are not home. If your dogs are not crate trained, you can use baby gates or spare bedrooms to keep a barrier between the pets.
Monitor how your dogs behave around toys. Beware that the resident dog may try to guard these items. Look for signs such as growling or baring teeth when the other dog is near. If this occurs, it may be best to temporarily remove toys from the house until the dogs grow used to one another.
Meal times should be closely watched for signs of food aggression. Unless the new dog is a very young puppy, food aggression can manifest when animals are stressed in a new environment. Feed dogs in separate locations (such as different bedrooms), and put away food dishes when they are finished.
Beware that some dogs view affection as a resource, and may guard owners as strongly as they guard toys and food. If you are cuddled on the couch with the resident dog, use caution when inviting the new dog onto the couch with you. The resident dog may see this as a threat and lash out. If necessary, limit access to areas such as the bed, couch, and other furniture until both animals are fully adjusted.
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