Adding a New Dog to the Household

August 12, 2010 at 4:23 pm 12 comments

I’ve been following Dr. Jon’s PetPlace Newsletter. He has wonderful advice on a variety of topics. I’ve pasted in his comments below on adding a new dog into your household. Great advice!

From Dr. Jon

If you have a dog and you’re thinking about getting another dog…choose wisely. The better the “match”, the easier the transition will be. A natural hierarchy will develop over the first few weeks and in most cases the older incumbent dog will and should occupy the “alpha position.”

Here are some tips for choosing another dog:

1. Sex – It’s best to choose a dog of the opposite sex. This will decrease the chance of aggression.

2. Breed – Avoid breeds that are known for their aggression toward other dogs (e.g. Pit Bull). Research dog breeds and choose the one that has the best chance of getting along with your resident dog.

3. Personality – Make sure the dogs’ personalities match. If the incumbent dog has lots of energy for playing, it would be appropriate to get a new puppy or young adult dog. If the incumbent is unlikely to tolerate the antics and energy of an adolescent dog, consider getting an older dog.

Once you select your new dog, the “dog-to-dog” introduction is important. Here are some tips on how to introduce two dogs:

1. Keep it friendly – It may be possible to introduce the dogs in a relaxed manner by just letting them sniff and play, as long as both are known to be friendly with other dogs.

2. Take it slow – If you are not sure how the dogs will react, start off cautiously by taking them for a walk together on neutral territory (e.g. a park, not your yard). When they show friendly behavior toward each other or begin to ignore each other, move the exercise to your back yard. Finally, allow the dogs to be together in your home.

3. Watch for signs – Be aware that wagging tails do not necessarily mean that dogs are happy to see each other. A straight up tail that wags stiffly is a dominant sign that may signal aggression. If one dog’s tail is tucked down between its legs, that dog is afraid and nervous. This calls for a gradual, well-supervised approach to avoid making the dog even more fearful. If a dog’s tail is horizontal and wagging in a relaxed fashion, it’s all systems go!

4. The dominant dog will emerge – When the dogs eventually meet off-leash, one of them is going to need to establish dominance. This is a normal and necessary step in a dog-dog relationship, but sometimes the process can look and sound pretty scary. The dogs will maneuver around each other and may even scuffle to the point at which one dog ends up on his back, with the other dog standing over him. There may be some nipping and grabbing of the neck or throat. Try not to worry too much when this happens. It is normal for dogs to engage in such roughness. Once the dominant dog establishes himself, he probably won’t feel the need to repeat these maneuvers.

5. Support the dominant dog – Once the dogs are together, make sure that you support one dog as dominant (this will probably be the resident dog). Show him that he is “number one” by feeding and petting him first and giving him the favorite sleeping area. Don’t expect the dogs to share. Sharing isn’t normal for most dogs. Feed them separately (across the room) and don’t give really delicious chew toys (rawhides, pig ears) until the hierarchy is secure.

Introducing a new dog into the home can be a lot simpler when it’s done correctly. Don’t get upset when the resident dog tells the newcomer to “bug off.” This is how the new dog learns the house rules. Eventually they should become fast friends.

When adding a new dog to your household, remember to follow the “rules” and to plan for that dog’s medical expenses with a savings account or pet insurance policy.

Until next time,

Dr. Jon


Entry filed under: Dogs.

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12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Peggy @ Peggy's Peg Place  |  August 15, 2010 at 12:00 am

    Thanks for dropping by my blog BJ! Great tips from Dr. Jon on adding a new dog. Part of the reason we are resisting is because the vet bills are so expensive. It might be best to stick with just one for us!
    Have a great day.


    • 2. bjtaylorblog  |  August 16, 2010 at 12:39 am

      Hi Peggy, thanks for stopping by! The consideration of cost is one all pet owners must keep in mind and you are so wise to consider it ahead of time. Should you have the opportunity to help a friend foster a dog or adopt a new pet, these tips will help. Have a super week!


  • 3. Jo Meyer  |  August 13, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Great post! This is wonderful information, even if you don’t own a dog. We live in a society filled with animals. The more we know about them, the more we can appreciate and love them appropriately. Very helpful, thanks for sharing this.


    • 4. bjtaylorblog  |  August 13, 2010 at 3:19 pm

      Jo, the more I learn about our funny and furry friends the more I love them. They have quirks, just like we do, and foibles too. Thanks for commenting. Hugs, B.J.


  • 5. Jo Meyer  |  August 13, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Great post! Good info to know even if you don’t have a dog. We live in a society filled with animals, and the more we know about them, the more we can appreciate and love them appropriately. Thanks for passing along this valuable information 🙂


    • 6. bjtaylorblog  |  August 13, 2010 at 3:18 pm

      Jo, I heartily agree that the more we know about our beloved dogs the more we can appreciate and love them. Thanks for the comment!


  • 7. Mark Carlson  |  August 12, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    I’m glad I read this. Next year I’m gong to have to make the decision to get aanotehr guide dog. My dog, Musket is going to retire and we’re concerned about his reaction to a dog ‘doing his job.’ But I have read and been told by other service dog owners, that in the case of a very dominant ‘alpha’ male like Musket, to get a female of the same breed. he won’t feel threatened by her and feel secure in his home. The other considerations can be dealt with more easily.

    Thanks for the tips.

    Keep up the great posts!


    • 8. bjtaylorblog  |  August 13, 2010 at 1:44 am

      Mark, I thought of you when I posted this, knowing you’ll be dealing with this one day. Best wishes for a GREAT transition. And much love to all. B.J.


  • 9. AF Admin  |  August 12, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    Good advice I’ll follow them sure. What do you do if they are virtual? check the pets out in my blog.


    • 10. bjtaylorblog  |  August 12, 2010 at 6:03 pm

      Cool pics! If I didn’t have furry “real” ones, I’d befriend some of yours for sure!


  • 11. bjtaylorblog  |  August 12, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    I thought Dr. Jon gave solid advice – things I would want to know if I’m going to add a new dog to the household. Thanks for the comment, and good luck on finding just the right little dog for you.


  • 12. Julie Garmon  |  August 12, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    Thanks! I’ve been thinking about getting a new little dog, just for me. Good stuff to know.



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