Introducing the New Dog

by Catherine de la Cruz, GPCC Rescue

The introduction of a new dog to the household can be an experience that varies from "Oh, hi, how-are-you?," to outright warfare. The easiest introduction is new puppy to older adult; the next easiest is--USUALLY--new female to resident male.

On homecoming day be sure all food and toys are up out of reach. Plan to get the dog as early in the day as possible so you have all day to observe potential problems. When the new dog arrives, park the car (and dog) down the road from your house. Have the person who best handles the resident dog go get him and treat it like an ordinary walk. Have the new dog on leash, the children out of the way, and be about a hundred feet from your car. The whole purpose here is to introduce the two dogs on neutral territory. Your home, car and children are "his," and could provoke a possessive reaction.

After getting an obedience "sit" out of both dogs - well, at least the resident - allow them to greet and sniff each other. The male of the pair will posture and mark bushes, but a first meeting between a male and a female USUALLY goes off well. When they have done with their greeting ritual (about 5 minutes), walk both of them back toward the house. Walk into the yard side by side, then, dogs still on leash, into the house with you--alpha person--entering the door first. Other person and dogs follow in whatever order is convenient.

With both dogs still leashed, let them explore the house. If resident dog doesn't show any hostility, you can drop his leash, but leave it attached to him. Don't be surprised if he tries some marking behavior in the house. Let him know the rules haven't changed just because there's a visitor. When they appear to be comfortable with each other in the house, take both leashes and walk out to the back yard. Again, leave his leash attached, but give him free run of the yard; keep her on leash until you are sure he is not going to react poorly to some accidental "intrusion" by her of one of his favorite spots.

All of the above should take no longer than a half-hour, and in many cases can be accomplished in ten minutes or less. It depends on the dogs. If he's just head-over-heels excited about having a playmate, remove both leashes and let them play.

Although the children will be excited about the new dog, remind everyone that the resident dog is still the top-dog in the "dog family". He is to be petted first, fed first, offered a toy first. Gradually, the bitch will take over that role - and he will let her - but start out recognizing that he is still your "number one" and isn't being replaced.

Good luck, have fun and enjoy your new addition.

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