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Bringing a new pet home is a joyous experience for the whole family. It’s a joyful way of bringing everyone together to welcome the furry new addition to the pack. Your current pets, however, might be less than enthusiastic about the arrival of another pet in the household. What is a fun and celebratory event for the humans in the household can be very stressful and confusing for their fluffy counterparts, particularly dogs.
Dogs are naturally territorial creatures, and while your see your new arrival as a harmless friend, your faithful pooch may see them as a usurper and a threat to their place in the pack. They’ll be disoriented by the new smells and noises that ‘the new guy’ brings into the house and their natural instinct will be to defend the household and this could have needlessly unpleasant consequences.
Fear not, though, any potential misunderstandings can be avoided if you handle the introduction right. Before you know it, you’ll be pushing your pooches around together in a double dog stroller, safe in the knowledge that you have two lifelong friends. Here are some ways to help you manage the introduction and ensure a safe and happy transition for both dogs.
Place two cages in separate rooms
Some owners may be reticent about caging their dogs, but it’s an essential step here in ensuring a safe transition. This way they will start to get used to each others’ scent while still being afforded the security and sense of comfort from the cage. Put a toy or blanket into each dog’s cage and give them some time to imprint their scent on it by playing with it or lying on it. Then, after a while, swap the items between cages. This gives each dog some familiarity with the others’ scent. These objects will be your scent articles.
Let the new dog explore
Let the new dog out of the cage for around 10-15 minutes a day, getting them used to their new home and family. They’ll sense your family dog’s scent on everything and leave his scent here and there in their new home. When it’s time for the new doggie to go back in the cage, make sure you put your other dog’s scent articles in with them.
Now, trade places
When the new guy goes in the cage it’s safe to let your old friend back out. They’ll sniff around for signs of the ‘intruder’ but should be satisfied that they’re no longer on their territory. That said, they may be a little confused and disoriented so it’s important to be on hand to give them lots of cuddles and support.
Try to repeat this process a few times a day. You’ll know your dog is ready to meet the new guy when they’re no longer furiously chasing the new dog’s scent when they’re let out of the cage.
Introducing your dogs
It’s best that your dogs’ first encounter happens outside of the home (remember, they’re territorial). Get them to meet somewhere neutral but enclosed, like a fenced park or in a neighbour’s back yard. Let your new dog run around and play for a while before introducing ‘old faithful’. In their neutral territory they’ll recognise each other’s’ scent and act on their natural curiosity rather than territorial aggression.
As they sniff and posture and get to know each other you can relax knowing that you’ve made two lifelong friends.