The most common question that pet parents with multiple dogs have when bringing home a new canine companion is likely “how long does it take for a dog to adjust to a new dog?” You might already love your new dog, and you are ready for everything to get back to a state of calm. However, both your new puppy or adult dog and current dogs do not understand the situation as you do, and therefore will need more time to adjust.
Exactly how long it will take for your current dog to adjust to your new pup (and vice versa) will depend on your pets, their ability to adapt, whether they are male or female, their comfort level, and how delicately the process was performed. Much of the time it takes for your dogs to adjust will depend on their specific personalities and behavior. That being said, a lot of the timeline will be determined by your ability to understand each dog’s needs and how to make them feel as comfortable as possible.
Essentially, there is a great deal of variation when it comes to exactly how long it takes for their pets to adjust to one another. However, it is reasonable to assume that the process will take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months if executed correctly.
What To Do Before Bringing Your New Dog Home
Having a peaceful home with multiple dogs is almost entirely about prep work. We know that the prospect of bringing home a new dog is an incredibly exciting one, and you likely want to rush to that part. However, having patience and being thorough now will lead to years of peace and love down the line. It is crucial to do all the prep work as thoroughly and completely as possible since both of your dogs’ comfort levels depend on it.
Consider Your Current Dog When Looking for a New Pet
This first step will occur before you have even determined which new dog you would like to introduce into your household. While looking at dogs in a shelter or from an authorized breeder, keep your first dog’s personality and preferences in mind.
Is your current dog very playful and energetic? If that is the case, then perhaps they would enjoy having a playmate to match them and have fun with. On the other hand, your dog could also be one who loves nothing more than taking a nap with you on the couch.
If your dog is more low-energy, they would probably appreciate another dog who is much the same as them. In addition, some dogs see a new family member as an intruder encroaching on their natural territory and stealing their treats and bones.
Making sure that your dogs are compatible with one another is a key element to guaranteeing a good transition later. Otherwise, there will likely be strife and difficulties ahead. While your dogs of course do not have to have the exact same personalities as one another, know them both well enough to understand if they would mesh or not.
Have More Than One of Any Object They Could Get Territorial Over
Once you have determined that you will be bringing a new dog into your home, there are some ways that you should prepare your house for the impending change. Even though you know what is happening, both your current dog and your new dog will not. In order to make sure that they both know they are loved and their needs will always be met, have multiples of nearly everything.
For instance, having only one water bowl is a near surefire way to make your dogs feel insecure about the other one being there. Instead, have two or possibly even more water bowls available in your home at all times. The same goes with food bowls (more on that later), dog beds, toys, and anything else that your dogs enjoy. What is important is that they never see one another as a threat, or that their needs are not being met as a result.
Have the Dogs Meet in Advance
This might not be possible for every situation, but it is an integral step in the process if you can swing it. By allowing your dogs to have a proper introduction before formally bringing the new one home, you are making sure of a few different factors. First, you are getting a preliminary idea of their reactions to one another.
If they clearly do not get along, then this could be a difficult or possibly even inappropriate arrangement going forward. While this would be difficult and upsetting, it is so much better to discover it ahead of time rather than after bringing home your new pet.
Allow your pets to sniff one another, and make sure that there is not any territorial or aggressive posturing. A prolonged stare where they are each making direct eye contact can also be a cause for alarm. Really pay attention to each dog’s body language and body postures.
When your dogs are meeting for the first time, make sure to do so in a totally neutral location so that neither one feels superior or threatened. A spacious yet gated outdoor space would be best for this, as it will not smell overly of one dog or the other.
To make sure that this meeting goes well and neither dog lashes out, they should both be on a leash so that a safe distance can be maintained. It is best for humans to largely stay out of this interaction however possible. This is a time to observe and let your dogs take the lead, but always be present and alert in case they need to be separated.
The ideal reactions from your dogs during this first interaction are curiosity or indifference, as either could indicate a future positive relationship. If there is growling, barking, shaking, or any form of aggression, immediately separate the two. Then, it might be time to reconsider if this is the right arrangement for everybody involved.
If the first meeting goes well, it is best to repeat it several times. Again, this will not be possible in every situation, but it is best to give your dogs as many opportunities as possible to adjust to one another outside of the home.
Take Them on a Brief Walk Together
Once your dogs have interacted for the first time in a neutral space and they seem to have reacted well to the encounter, you can move on to the next step. Generally, the next agreed-upon step by experts and many a professional dog trainer is to take them out on a nice walk together. There should be at least one person to a dog, and their leashes should be held by different people.
This way, the dogs will never have to be too close to one another, which is for the best at least at the beginning. Another distinct and important advantage of this strategy is that two dogs could potentially be overpowering to just one person, but that is less likely to be the case if it is just a one-to-one ratio.
Taking them on a walk together will allow them to get out some energy, likely making them more comfortable and amenable to making friends. At the same time, they will associate this activity that they enjoy with their new companion. It is really a win-win situation, which is why it is so highly recommended before moving the newcomer in.
How To Move Your New Dog Into Your Home
Now that your new dog and resident dog have been somewhat thoroughly introduced, and they have a good working relationship with one another, it is finally the moment you have undoubtedly been waiting for. You have largely prepped your home by getting at least two (or one per dog) of everything your dogs enjoy, so there will never be any competition.
Your dogs also have a solid foundation of positive associations with one another that can be built upon to make a lovely friendship that will last a lifetime. All there is to do now is move your new dog in, and start living your lives together.
Have More Than One Person Present
Remember when we mentioned that it was important to have at least one separate person per dog while walking them together? Well, that idea still very much applies here, and it will at least until your dogs get more settled with one another. Having multiple hands on deck to help is always a smart and safe practice, as you never know what could happen.
Beyond that, having more than one person around is a necessity when following our next few steps for integrating a new dog into your home peacefully.
Take Your Current Dog on a Walk
At this stage, one of the people available to help with the introduction process should take your current dog on a nice, long, relaxing walk. Again, this will serve to calm your current dog down, which will be immensely helpful when the upcoming excitement begins in earnest. This also has the added effect of getting your current dog out of the house for a little while. The reason for this will become readily apparent when you take a look at our next step.
Allow Your New Dog To Check Out the House
If your current dog was still in your home while this happens, it could be threatening or worrying to your new dog. This is especially true because your home likely smells like your current dog already, telling your new dog that this is their territory. Having them present at this time would only exacerbate that feeling, which is not an ideal state of mind for either dog to be in.
Instead, by having your current dog out of the house, your new dog can explore at their leisure. Not only that, but they can begin to get a bit of their scent on their surroundings. Give them enough time that they have their lay of the land and seem at ease in their new space. You should be able to identify that your dog is feeling content by looking at their body language. Is their body in a relaxed position, and are their ears not standing at attention? These are both solid signs that your dog feels at ease.
Your new dog should feel as comfortable and confident as possible, which will put them in a good frame of mind for when you reintroduce your current dog into your home.
Bring Back Your Current Dog, Let Them Interact in an Open Area
At this stage, everyone should be feeling comfortable, whether they are human or canine. It is also important that the humans in this situation feel calm, as dogs are actually able to pick up on our emotions.
Both your new dog and your current dog should still be on a leash at this point, and they should interact in a fairly open space. They should both have their own room to roam around as they please, never feeling overly cramped, or like they are forced to be together.
Since your dogs have hopefully met several times before, this interaction will not be anywhere near as much of a shock as it could be if they were just now meeting for the first time.
Give Each Dog Their Own Space To Decompress, Separately
After such an exciting day, it is entirely possible that both of your dogs will need a bit of time to calm down. However, it is not yet a good idea to allow them to interact together off-leash. In order to give them each a space of their own where they can safely and calmly decompress, consider using two different crates. Crates appeal to your dog’s internal instincts to have a den, making them feel even more at peace.
Keep Your Current Dog’s Routine as Similar as Possible
Dogs thrive with a daily routine to follow. In fact, without one, they will often feel lost and disoriented. In order to make sure that your current dog does not feel this way, and does not, in turn, associate your new pet with this insecurity, keep your old dog’s routine the same as it was before. Take walks at the same time, and feed them meals at the same time too.
At First, Feed Your Dogs in Different Rooms
Speaking of meals, it is best to feed your dogs in different rooms at first. This ensures that neither one of them will feel any food insecurity or experience any food aggression. This will also help establish a routine for your new dog while keeping your current dog’s routine the same as it used to be.
Best Furry Friends Forever
Introducing two dogs to one another can feel like a challenge, but it does not have to be that way. As long as it is done carefully, and each dog’s comfort is always the priority, this process can be a rewarding one for all involved.
The Diggs Team
We believe our dogs deserve safer, better designed pet products.
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