Hello dog lovers! Today we’re tackling a big topic that comes up for any family expanding their pack: how to introduce a new dog to your home. Adding a new furry friend to your household can be an exciting adventure, but it can also be stressful for both humans and dogs involved if not handled correctly. We’re going to break down the process into some simple, digestible steps to help make this transition as smooth as possible.

1. Preparation before the Arrival

Before your new dog steps a paw into their new home, you need to ensure that the environment is prepared. If you have other pets, it’s best to introduce them to the new dog in a neutral location first, to reduce the potential for territorial disputes.

Create a comfortable space for your new pet with their bed, toys, and food and water dishes in a quiet area. This will serve as their personal sanctuary where they can relax and feel secure. 

2. First Introduction to the Home

When you first bring your new dog home, leash them and take them for a walk around the neighborhood to help them get acclimated to the new smells and sights. This also helps them expend some energy, which may make the subsequent introduction to the home a little less overwhelming.

Once inside, keep your dog leashed and walk them through each room, allowing them to sniff and explore at their own pace. During this tour, make sure you maintain a calm and positive demeanor. Your dog will take cues from you, and if you’re relaxed, they’re more likely to be as well.

3. Introducing Existing Pets

If there are other dogs already living in the home, introduce them to the new dog in a controlled and neutral setting first, like a park or a friend’s yard. Make sure each dog is on a leash. Watch their body language carefully. Signs of stress or aggression could indicate that the introduction needs to happen more slowly.

When you feel it’s safe to bring the new dog into the house with the existing pets, keep them separated initially, either in different rooms or with baby gates. They can sniff and interact under the door or over the gate, which allows them to become familiar with each other without the risk of an unsupervised altercation. Gradually increase the time they spend together, always under supervision, until you’re confident they can coexist peacefully.

4. Establishing a Routine

Dogs are creatures of habit, and they thrive on routine. As soon as possible, establish a daily schedule for meals, walks, playtime, and rest. A predictable routine can help reduce anxiety in your new dog, making them feel more secure and at home. Be consistent with training and enforcing house rules from the very beginning to prevent confusion.

5. Patience and Positive Reinforcement

Remember, your new pet is getting used to a whole new world, so it’s normal for them to feel scared and anxious. Be patient with them and give them time to adjust. Never punish a dog for behavior that stems from fear or anxiety, as this will only increase these feelings.

Instead, use positive reinforcement to help them understand what behaviors are appropriate. Reward them with treats (check out our vet recommended calming treats) , praise, and affection for behaviors you want to encourage.

In conclusion, the key to introducing a new dog to your home is preparation, patience, and positivity. It may take time for your new dog to fully adjust, but with love and care, they’ll soon feel right at home. Keep an open line of communication with your vet or a dog behaviorist to address any ongoing anxiety or behavioral issues.

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Dog Behaviour & Training,

Last Update: April 9, 2024