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Introducing Your New Dog to Your Resident Dog

Fairy Dogparents

Making pet wishes come true!
Sitting pooch

 Introducing Your New Dog to Your Resident Dog

Dogs naturally live within a social structure called a dominance hierarchy. This dominance hierarchy serves to maintain order, reduce conflict and promote cooperation among pack members. Dogs also establish territories, which they may defend against perceived intruders or rivals.

It's important to take these factors into consideration when introducing a new dog into your 'pack'.  You will want to take steps to make sure your newcomer makes a good first impression by using a neutral meet and greet location, and some structure as the dogs get to know eachother.

Introduction Techniques

  • Choose a neutral location: not the house or the yard
  • Use positive reinforcement:  i.e. “happy talk,” food rewards and simple commands with praise
  • Be aware of body postures: encourage playful behavior, interrupt aggressive behavior by distracting, seperating the dogs
  • Wait until the dogs appear comfortable before trying this at home   
  • Introduce the resident dogs to the new dog one at a time: otherwise they may “gang up” on the newcomer 
  • Keep the dogs seperated when you are not home for the first couple of weeks:  Confine the new dog, not the resident - otherwise you will be sending the wrong dominance message, which may lead to more squabbles

Introducing Puppies to Adult Dogs

Before the age of four months, puppies may not recognize subtle body postures & communications from adult dogs. Well-socialized adult dogs with may set limits with puppies with a growl or snarl. Do not reprimand an adult dog setting a reasonable limit - These behaviors are normal communication for dogs, and should be allowed.

Adult dogs that aren’t well-socialized, or that have a history of fighting with other dogs, may respond with more aggressive behaviors  -  like biting, which could harm the puppy. For this reason, a puppy shouldn’t be left alone with an adult dog until you’re confident the puppy will not be in any danger.

Be sure to give the adult dog some quiet time away from the puppy each day, and some individual attention from you.

Ask for Help if Things Get Difficult

Conflicts between dogs in the same family can often be resolved with professional help.  If the introduction of a new dog to a household doesn’t go well and there is aggression to work through, contact a professional animal behaviorist. Punishment won’t work and could make things worse.

Typically, the older, resident dog will be the dominant/alpha dog.  You should back that up by feeding that dog first, giving him/her treats first, etc.  See also our article on Canine Rivalry.

Congratulations on your new family member!  

Fairy Dogparents wishes you and your animal friends many happy years together.


Fairy Dogparents
 Plymouth, Minnesota