How to Introduce Your Existing Dog to Your New Rescue
Dogs are part of the family, and your family is like their pack. Even though you might not live with a hierarchy in mind, the dog will establish its own way of determining the social structure in the house.
When you bring an adopted dog into the fold, this dominance hierarchy, which operates to maintain order, minimise conflict and support cooperation among pack members has to be worked on with your help to ensure everyone is happy in the home.
You want your home to be a safe place for your pets – new and old – so, ensuring that everyone can live in harmony is vital. In order to do this, you must follow these important steps:
First of all, it’s sensible to introduce your pups in a neutral location as this allows your resident dog to feel more comfortable than if they were to meet at the home; this might be seen as an intrusion for the resident dog.
Many dogs will go for a walk together in the woods, or somewhere similarly quiet so that there aren’t too many stressful distractions around. Each dog should be handled by a separate person.
Aim for a location that isn’t familiar to either dog and keep both dogs on a lead. Bear in mind that if you often walk your resident dog in an open space such as a field or park that’s near your home, the resident pooch may associate this with their territory, so it’s important to find another spot to make the initial meeting.
It’s always a good idea to take your resident dog along with you to the shelter to introduce the dogs before the adoption takes place too.
We love positive reinforcement! Right from the very first meeting, your goal is to see good things happening when the two dogs are in each other’s company. Allow some sniffing to take place as this is standard canine greeting behaviour.
When this occurs, go ahead and praise them in a friendly and happy tone of voice, and never waiver from this style of positive reinforcement.
Keep the sniffing and investigations nice and brief or it could escalate and evoke an aggressive response. Once this short period is up, get the attention of both dogs and feed them a treat each as a reward for their good job on a simple command that you get them to do. For example, this can be something like getting them to sit, come or stay.
You should keep a close eye on the body postures of the dogs as this is a strong indicator of impending aggressive behaviour. If one of the dogs prolongs a stare, bares their teeth, you see the hair standing up on their back, hear deep growls or observe a stiff-legged gait then you must interrupt the interaction straight away. Do this by calmly and positively getting each dog interested in something else such as a toy (you can find info on toys at this useful site – Woof Dog).
Alternatively, each handler can call the dog you are handling and get them to obey a command and then reward them; this will nullify a situation and also help with positive reinforcement training.
Give interaction another go once they have been separated, but keep it shorter and at a bigger distance from each other. You can always work on getting closer and lengthen interaction times.
If all goes well when the dogs meet each other and you, along with the rescue staff are happy that your new pooch can leave to become a permanent resident in your home, it’s really time to get excited!
As long as the dogs are tolerating each other with no signs of aggressive or fearful reactions, and the investigative greeting behaviours have dwindled out, then home time is going to be fine.
When you do arrive home, take your dogs for a little walk around the neighbourhood together before you approach the house.
Once you’ve entered the house you should lead both dogs around the house together. If this is accomplished without a hitch, you can let them off the leash, but keep them reasonably close by, just in case.
Over the initial few weeks after bringing your new family member home, be sure to nurture this blossoming relationship between your dogs. Remain watchful and keep things fair. You might want to avoid potential conflict by removing toys and belongings for the time being.
If managed correctly, your rescued four-legged friend will be a source of much joy for you and your resident pooch!
Written by Angie Hill from WoofDog.org