INTRODUCING A NEW DOG
When introducing new dogs keep in mind, first impressions count, for SO much.
You need to do everything you can to set both dogs up (or all dogs) to have the best possible first meeting and to create the best possible first impressions of one another.
This is going to mean meeting in a calm, quiet place that is neutral territory for both dogs (if you are intro’ing a new dog to several resident dogs, do this one at a time), and giving the dogs plenty of space to get used to one another’s presence.
Off lead is really too much of a risk so long lines and harnesses is the best way forward here – walk the dogs around a big space, ideally a secure field or as close to that as you can get, with them a long way apart from one another. Ideally, play follow the leader so that each dog can pick up scent from the ground the other dog has walked over, so walk in a big circle or loop – they need to be far enough apart that neither dog feels the need to react and both dogs can take high value rewards from their respective handlers.
Gradually reduce the circle, each dog being allowed to sniff and look but encouraged with rewards to keep moving. Gradually catch up and walk parallel, again with enough space between the dogs that no one’s reacting, each dog can focus on their handler.
Throughout this process keep leads nice and loose, be interesting and rewarding, avoid any telling off or ‘correction’ – we want the dogs to associate one another with low stress, high reward, calm activity.
If at any stage someone does react, just increase the space and get your dog’s focus back on you using rewards.
When you can walk the dogs sufficiently closely without reaction that they could sniff each other, have one of you drop back a little so the other can sniff butts – keep this first greeting really short and positive, 3 or 4 seconds then a happy voice ‘let’s go’ and back to parallel walking again and then repeat a minute or so later.
This allows the dogs to get used to one another without there being time for anything to go wrong.
If you are in a secure space, now you can consider allowing them to choose what they do, so drop the leads and let them drag them and allow them to interact but be sure to recall them frequently before any play can get giddy or over the top.
Reward well and send them back to play again. If you do this and either dog ignores the recall, use the long lines to split them up, get their focus back on you before allowing them back together. It’s important that when this happens, BOTH dogs are brought back under control as if you have one dog loose trying to play and the other dog secured on the lead that’s a recipe for something to kick off.
Once all the above is done, then if it’s just the one dog you are introducing to another, walk them home together and enter the house together.
Ideally I would put away all toys and highly prized items such as bones, chews etc, and provide multiple beds and water bowls (so three or four beds, three or four water bowls) so that you reduce the value of these items and reduce the chance for competition between the dogs.
Feed them in separate rooms to begin with, and introduce toys and treats gradually as the new dog settles in, supervised by an adult per dog.
The above is the ideal practice, this isn’t always possible so if necessary, remember to keep things calm, give dogs space, avoid tight leads and head on meetings and avoid competition over food/toys.
If the dogs get on well then remember it is important for both dogs to have lots of one to one time with their humans as well as spending time together.