How To Introduce Dogs Together
There are a couple of fundamentals to follow when adding a new dog to your pack that will make all the difference in how smooth the meeting goes.
Adding to your pack can be a wonderful experience for your current dog(s) but rushing things or taking in a dog that is not a good fit can lead to some serious problems.
Its also important to really think about why you are adding to your pack. Its not uncommon for people to get a second dog because they think it will help the behaviors of their current dog. That usually tells me the current dog is acting up and the owners think a new dog will help fulfill them and make them behave better. The problem with that thinking is that if you do not have control of your current dog and you get a second dog you will most likely end up with two dogs you can't control with behavior issues.
If this sounds like you I suggest getting a trainer to help you with the behaviors of your current dog before bringing in the second. One of my early experiences as a dog owner was me getting a second dog to "help" my first dog and it did not go well. The second dog was a great dog but all they did was fight because my first dog was so unstable.
Proper steps of introducing 2 dogs:
1. Walk the new dog as far and as long as possible first. Walking a new dog with rules and boundaries will put them in a more relaxed state of mind and they will be more open to what you ask for next (check out walking tips in the classroom page).
2. Make sure your current dog has also been exercised so that neither dog has any excess energy during the greeting.
3. Once both dogs have been drained of energy I suggest walking them both together before you let them greet. Both dogs must be walking "with you" which means not pulling, sniffing the ground, scouting or directing the walk in any way. This step communicates to the dogs that they are followers to you which makes the rest of the steps much easier.
4. Once the dogs have been tired out its time to let them greet. I suggest keeping both dogs on leashes until you can assess how they feel about each other.
5. Let the dogs approach one another and try to guide them to each others butt's. Its okay for dogs to meet face to face if they are both social but nervous dogs and overly confident dogs can have issues going face to face.
6. If both dogs engage in sniffing you should let it continue for 10-15 seconds and then put a pause on it by calling the dog to you and then have them do it again. If the dogs act unsure or avoidant of one another you should pause and let them hang out near each other but not continue the greeting. If one or both of the dogs do not try to sniff and smell the other dog you need to pause the greeting too.
7. How you proceed depends on how well they seem to get along. Compatible dogs will instantly act acceptant and relaxed around each other - but dogs who are unsure will need more time.
8. If either dog snaps or gets "testy" you should give a quick correction and wait until they become calm and then start at it again (after the initial greeting you should follow the "how to bring a new dog into your home" from the classroom section.
9. I don't allow play for a few days unless the dogs really get along and don't act too excited. Play can create too much excitement which can lead to issues like aggression.
10. Practicing steps 1-9 on a daily basis for a week or so is also suggested until the dogs get comfortable with each other. Go slow and take your time.
10. You can actually introduce two dogs thorough a fence, crate or baby gate using the same steps if you are unsure of how they will behave. These tools acts like a muzzle which can help you if you are nervous about the greeting.
11. You must be calm, relaxed and confident when doing this.