How to Introduce a New Dog to Your Old Dog

Introducing a brand new dog into your household when you already have a dog can be tricky. Here’s how to make sure the relationship between your two dogs gets started off on the right foot.

Would you like to add a new dog to your home? Introducing a new dog can be tricky when you have another dog at home who’s comfortable with his position in the pack. In order to avoid fights and incompatibility issues between the new dog and your established dog, there are certain steps you should take to make the introduction a new dog easier:

Keep in mind the sex of each dog

As a generalization, a dog will tend to get along better with a dog of the opposite sex. If you’re introducing a new dog of the same sex, you may want to consider spaying or neutering the new dog before the introduction. Unfortunately, spaying and neutering may only reduce dominance behavior if the dog is spayed or neutered before a certain age, usually 6-8 months of age. If at all possible before selecting a new dog to bring home, see how the dog interacts with other dogs at the kennel or shelter where he currently resides. If he exhibits strong dominance behavior there, he’ll likely display it towards your dog at home.

Allow your dogs initial meeting to take place in neutral territory

Dogs are much less likely to behave in a dominant or aggressive manner if they first meet on neutral territory. Have your dogs meet initially at a local dog park or a fenced in friend’s yard. Let them play together and watch how they interact. Praise them both for good behavior.

Keep your tone positive and friendly when the two dogs are together

When the two dogs are interacting in a friendly manner, speak soothingly and positively to them to reinforce their positive interaction. Your goal should be to make both dogs feel good when they’re in each others presence.

Give your original dog sufficient attention

When a new dog is introduced into the household, attention can sometimes be directed towards the new family member making your old dog feel left out. Give your original dog the same amount of attention and time that he received prior to the new dog being introduced.

Keep each dog’s belongings separate

Don’t force the new dog to share a feeding bowl, water bowl, bed, or dog house with your original dog. Make sure each dog has his own supplies. Sharing food and water bowls can create unnecessary friction between the two dogs.

Reinforce the pack order

Allow the dogs to determine their own pack order. Once a pack order has been established, reinforce it as much as possible. The dog higher in the pack should be fed first and given treats before the second dog. Don’t adopt a sympathetic demeanor towards the underdog as this can destroy pack unity and potentially cause a dog fight.

Be prepared for skirmishes

When you introduce a new dog into your household, some initial friction is to be expected trance. You can also break up a fight with a bucket of cold water poured on the heads of both dogs.

Bringing a new dog into the household requires a period of adjustment for both humans and animals but with a little patience and caution it can be the beginnings of a wonderful new relationship.

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User Comments
  1. Zirk Engelbrecht

    On May 15, 2008 at 2:48 am

    I have had two clumber spaniels for many years and the younger one is definitely the alpha dog. I recently got a Tibettan Mastiff and I am having problems for the clumber to accept the much bigger Mastiff. The Clumber is 6 years and the Mastiff is 3.
    I need some clear help on how to calm this situation as I have small children in the house and I am very worried that a fight may break out when the infant is around and the situation is all around uncomfortable right now.

  2. Christy Tuller

    On September 24, 2008 at 11:35 am

    Great advice! I worked for a few years at an animal shelter and you would be surprised how many people want to just take a new dog home with out ever introducing them to their other dog first! Of course, we never let that happen and made a few people upset but they always understood in the end. I posted this to my blog too. Great article once again!

  3. jenny

    On December 19, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    My fiance and I are about to adopt from the humane society tommorrow and your advice is much appreciated and in line with other professionals!

  4. Lynette

    On December 31, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    We have a much loved nearly 15 year old female dog and we have just introduced an 8 week old male puppy to the family who has a gentle disposition. Our older dog is a bit snarly toward him. What can we do to balance the situation short of seperating the two of them. We are very mindful of sharing the affection and praise with both dogs, The older dog will not be with us for too much longer and we just want her to be comfortable and not feel threatened in anyway in her last bit of time with us.

  5. Suzan

    On February 1, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    We are soon to be bringing home a rescue from another state rescue facility. Our current dog – a cockapoo is 16 mo. old and does great at doggy day care with all the dogs there. This rescue – a Bichon – is 13 mo. old and both dogs are already neutered. Is this a good idea? I expect there to be some friction, so how shall we handle this? I was going to maybe let both dogs meet on neutral ground in town (I’d be walking our old one, hubby would be walking the new one) to see how they interact. What if they don’t like each other? I expect they won’t at first, but at home I thought about enclosing the new doggy in a large crate with a play enclosure attached so they could sniff at each other without getting hurt. New dog will have his own toys, bowls, beds, etc. New dog will most likely be scared as he is flying into our state from TX. Help! I am a little nervous. Any advice asap would be appreciated.

  6. Dena

    On April 22, 2009 at 12:22 am

    Even though I have had numerous dogs, I just introduced a newbee to our family. It reminded me to be patient. All our dogs are rescue and I still needed reminding to be patient and respect the pack.
    Thank you!

  7. Luciano

    On August 4, 2009 at 11:58 pm

    I just brought a new male puppy(2mo old beaggle) home from the shelter, My 3 yo female(german sheppard chow mix) got incredibly agressive and i’m now afraid she may hurt the puppy…what should I do??? please help!

  8. Nancy

    On November 22, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    we have a black lab border collie mix he`s 4 we just adopted a puggle who is two both dogs came from the pound and our neautered. our problem is the lab barks at the other dog and runs away from him he won`t get on the bed with him to sleep so my husband and I sleep in different beds help! i don`t want to give up either dog.

  9. Riley

    On January 24, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    we have a brand new puppy that is only six weeks ( geman shepard mix) and a shi zu that is about 3 years old. the shiz u is scared and everytime the german is near the shiz u the shiz ti runs away or hides. now that you gave me this infomation i think it might wok.

  10. Hallie

    On January 24, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    I agree with Riley. I think thay this information will work with my two dogs. Thanks so much for posting this information!!! :)

  11. gill

    On January 28, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    We have introduced a one year old collie to our household. The other dog has been in the household for four years and was the underdog to an older collie who has recently died.
    We are having problems with the dogs. The original dog is fearful and snarly towards the young dog. The original dog hides and avoids the young dog. The young dog will not leave the other dog alone. Has anyone any advice please?

  12. Marina Ward

    On January 17, 2011 at 1:57 am

    Thank you for the helpful information. My existing dog from the pound is a female husky/cattle dog around 2 years old and the ‘new’ pooch was surrendered with 6 pups to the RSPCA, kelpie/border collie female around 1 year – Ellie – and she was spayed last week. Ellie has already escaped from her area by leaping fences a few times but while I was away from home yesterday she leapt out of my life. Fortunately she was microchipped last week too, so the vets had her for collection this morning. I will put your advice into action and I am confident we will be a happy household soon……. Marina

  13. ladora

    On September 15, 2011 at 8:32 am

    We have a 3.5 yr old Fila Brasileiro that has a hard time when we go to work and school all day. He hates when we leave; and I feel so bad for him. He is so big that he could hurt another dog without meaning to. He does not trust any person outside of our family but really wants to play with other dogs. So we are bringing home a female 10 week old Fila – so that he has someone to protect and love while we are gone. I was a little worried how to introduce them. And this information was helpful. I’m not too worried though as, one day a little lost female rat terrier
    walked into our house and went straight for his dog bowl– she was straving. Thor had no problem with her however she did not particularly like him. She stayed with us for a week without incident until I was able to locate her owner. He wanted to play and she was rightfully afraid and would snarl and he would back off. So I kinda think this is all going to work out, if I just follow the advice you gave — THANKS

  14. Patty

    On September 21, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    I have a english mastiff mix with st bernard and i have had her for three years i got a chance to rescue another mastiff but it is also a female and is the same age as the other female i already have i am wondering if they would get along cause my mastiff is fixed the other one is not as of yet. I cant seem to find any sites that will tell me how to introduce them i cant do it on different places cause i have to travel four hours away to rescue the other mastiff so once i have it its mine..Any suggestions on how to handle the introductions of these two huge females..

  15. Ken Landon

    On May 18, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    HI, I have a 7 year old American Foxhound. He has been with me for about 4 years. Today I adopted a sweet Lab/Pointer Mix. The Foxhound is almost twice his weight, and is threatened by my New guy. I am feeding them seperately, and only putting them together when they go out in the yard. The lab/Pointer stays outside for now. The foxhound is very aggressive when he has treats on the floor. Where do I go from here?

  16. Reilly

    On June 14, 2012 at 10:14 am

    I have a puppy named lulu she’s as sweet as can be. I’m in Spain right now and saw an adorable white puppy in a window for 450 euros and I think lulu needs a freind the only person standing in the way is my dad. I need help how do I get this pup before friday? Help me ASAP

  17. Reilly

    On June 14, 2012 at 10:15 am

    I have a puppy named lulu she’s as sweet as can be. I’m in Spain right now and saw an adorable white puppy in a window for 450 euros and I think lulu needs a freind the only person standing in the way is my dad. I need help how do I get this pup before friday? Help me ASAP

  18. Mike

    On June 15, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Doesn’t look like this is the site to get any responses or answers to any questions, now does it? What’s the point of having a comment section??? Oy vey!!!!

  19. Mike

    On June 15, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Doesn’t look like this is the site to get any responses or answers to any questions, now does it? What’s the point of having a comment section??? Oy vey!!!!

  20. Mike

    On June 15, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Doesn’t look like this is the site to get any responses or answers to any questions, now does it? What’s the point of having a comment section??? Oy vey!!!!

  21. Mike

    On June 15, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    This doesn’t seem to be the place for getting any comment or question answered, now does it?? Why even have a comment section on a site like this if no one EVER uses it to help others??!! Oy Vey!!!!

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