Introducing dogs to each other can be quite a challenge. You never know how they will react. Will they like each other? Or will it be a complete disaster? Here are tips for ensuring the meeting goes smoothly.

The number one rule

If you are thinking of adding a second dog to your household, then be sure to introduce the two dogs to one another before you bring the new dog home. And most importantly, do it gradually! Don’t just bring the new dog into the house thinking everything will be fine. To the dogs that were already there, this is an intrusion on their territory by a stranger. And, the new dog might not know which rules to follow or which boundaries to respect. If you don’t start slow, bringing the dogs together might be a challenge.

The introduction

Some dogs have better social skills than others. With some dogs, the first meeting may be easy and other dogs may require more care and effort. In order to bring a new dog into the pack, you should arrange the first meeting on neutral territory — a place where you do not walk your current dog regularly, and which is probably not familiar to the new dog. For the first meeting, it is wise to have each dog on leash. Keep the leash loose, as tension on the leash might communicate to the dogs that you are worried about their meeting, which will in turn make them more anxious. Have someone help you by having the new dog on one leash, while you have the other dog on another leash. If you are adopting a dog from a shelter, ask the staff if they can help to introduce the dogs. Allow the two dogs to sniff and explore one another. As the dogs approach each other, watch their body language closely, paying attention to the entire body. If the dogs have shown no signs of hostility toward each other, you can try to take them to an enclosed area, drop their leashes, step back and give them space to get to know each other.

Second & third meeting

A second and third introduction meeting – in a neutral location – is necessary before you bring home the new family member. You can also try a few walks with both (all) dogs, with the dogs walking on the outside and you in-between. Before you decide to bring the new dog home, be 100% sure that the dogs are comfortable with each other. If you don’t know how to tell the difference between dogs getting to know each other and dogs who don’t like each other, have someone there who does.

You are the pack leader

The most important thing to do before bringing both dogs into your house at the same time is to establish your role in the pack. From day one, your dogs should know that YOU are the pack leader. You are the chief of the house, and you make the rules and define the boundaries. This is especially important for your current dog to know. Some dogs mistakenly think that they are the boss once a new dog enters the picture!

When you are home

Once your dogs have accepted each other, it is important that you let them establish the hierarchy among themselves – with you as pack leader, of course. But let them do it themselves! Don’t try to force a submissive dog into a dominant position,or the other way around. The relationship between the dogs will be more harmonious if you allow them to make this one rule for themselves. Remember: Don’t work against nature!

Do you have any experience with introducing dogs to each other? Please share your knowledge with us!