Skip to Primary Content

Shady Brook Animal Hospital

Introducing Your New Dog to Your Resident Dog

A Brown Dog Lying on Grass Next to a Plant Pot Outside

Introducing your new dog to your resident dog properly will get their relationship started on the right foot. Make sure to first introduce them on neutral territory, outdoors, rather than inside your home. Walk each dog on different leashes held by two different people, with each person carrying a bag of treats or other food. Start by walking the dogs at a distance that they can see each other but not be provoked by the other’s presence. If the dogs are not showing negative or aggressive behaviors reward them with treats. For example, if the dog you are walking looks at the other dog, say “good boy” and give him a treat.

Make sure to watch and read both dog’s body language. Defensive behavior and posturing such as hair standing up on the back, baring teeth, growling, or prolonged staring should be interrupted calmly and quickly by turning the dog’s attention to something else. If both dogs appear relaxed and comfortable with each other’s presence, you can shorten the distance between them.

Allow the dogs to dictate the pace of the interaction. It is possible that the dogs simply may want to play with each other before the walk is over, but it may take some time for the dogs to be comfortable enough to walk next to each other. Taking the introduction is important, and patience is key, do not force the dogs to interact with one another. Once the dogs can comfortably see each other and are not defensive, walk one dog behind the other, and then switch. Then, if both animals are still relaxed and non-aggressive, you can walk them side by side. Finally, you can allow the dogs to interact while closely supervising them. If a dog seems stressed or agitated, stop and proceed more slowly with the process.

Once you arrive to your home, make sure to watch the dogs closely. Upon first introduction, use a baby gate to separate the dogs, and watch how they behave with each other on opposite sides of the gate. Be sure to continually reinforce good behavior and positive interactions with praise and treats. Double check to confirm that there are no toys, food, or treats left around for the dogs to potentially fight over. Remember to be sure to watch your dogs closely to make sure that over excitement does not turn to hostility. Continue monitoring both dogs while they are together and rewarding them with treats until you are certain that they feel safe and comfortable together.