When your new dog arrives, they need to be kept separate from all resident dogs and/or pets for at least the first 48hrs. We have laid out some guidance on how to introduce resident pets below, if at anytime in any of the exercises, either pet seems uncomfortable, always move backwards a step and keep experiences positive.
There are simply no second chances when it comes to the all-important introductions. Whilst of course, issues can be worked on, introducing pets in the right way gives everyone the very best chance of a positive experience. For this reason, we ask that all dogs are kept separate from any resident pets for the first 48hrs and this must be adhered to. This enables your new arrival to settle, decompress from their journey and start to come to terms with their new surroundings so they are more able to cope with introductions when the time comes.
First Introductions – Dogs
When the first 48hrs is up, assess how your new dog is settling. If they are struggling or still very nervous, you may want to wait a little longer. If they are progressing well and you feel they are ready, you can start thinking about introductions. Ideally, where possible you should enlist the help of another adult, one person should take the resident dog(s) and another to take the new dog and enable them to meet outside of the house to take them on a walk together.
If the meeting is negative, continue on your walk, ignoring reactive behaviour, ensuring they are not close enough to reach each other throughout the walks but ensuring they can see each other, a distance of around 2-3 meters works well. In most cases, all dogs have calmed down by the end of the walk, but where this is not the case, continue separate living arrangements and repeat these steps daily.
If the dogs react well to each other, you should be able to let them all back in together via the garden. If the positive vibes continue, they should be fine to continue into the house together, if there are any negative vibes, separate and repeat daily.
NOTE: Dogs should ALWAYS be separated when eating, sleeping or when they are home alone until you know they have fully accepted each other.
First Introductions – Cats
Most cats will sense the new dogs presence and keep themselves scarce and likely choose to not be around the dog. You should ensure resident cats have a safe space that the dog(s) cannot get to; you should also ensure their food and sleeping areas are away from where the dogs are.
If you do want to introduce them, ensure the dog is on a lead and controllable and that the cat(s) have an easy exit route. Give lots of treats for good behaviour and a firm no for any undesirable behaviour.
It is natural for dogs to want to chase anything which runs – this doesn’t mean your dog necessarily wants to harm the cat or that the dog shouldn’t be homed with cats, just that the dog and cat need time to get used to each other and learn to live together.
It can take anywhere from several weeks to several months for cats to become settled with new dogs in the home – you should manage introductions at the cat’s pace.
NOTE: Some cats become very stressed after a new dog is brought into the home, which in some cases can cause vomiting from stress grooming. We recommend the pheromone plug-ins which help to keep cats calm and well.
First Introductions – Other Animals
Please do ensure that small animals such as rabbits, rodents, birds or exotic animals are kept away from dogs. Please be aware that a dog may be able to ‘break into’ cages and take steps to ensure small animals are not kept in an area where the dog(s) are.
NEVER LEAVE YOUR DOG IN A ROOM UNSUPERVISED WITH CAGED ANIMALS!
You should feed resident pets at the same time to get them into a routine, however, this MUST be done separately from other resident pets. This includes feeding small titbits or long-lasting treats. Many of our dogs have had to fight to get a share of the food in the shelters and so food aggression is common when they first arrive and until they learn to trust you. You can slowly work up to feeding dogs together over time using the following steps:
- To begin with feed dogs in adjacent rooms away far from each other
- Slowly bring the bowls closer to either side of the door.
- When you feel they are ready, move to feeding at opposite sides of the same room.
- You don’t necessarily need to move them closer than that if you don’t want to but you can slowly work on this from here if wanted.
TIP: If at any point in the above steps, either dog seems uncomfortable, restart the exercise bearing in mind this may have caused regression, so you may need to backtrack to find a point where they seem comfortable again.
The idea is to teach them to associate the presence of the other pet with pleasant things, such as food.
Toys and Treats
When your dog first arrives, toys and treats will likely be new to them. Once they discover these they can quickly start to guard them, which can cause fights. Therefore, you should ensure all toys and long-lasting treats like bones are picked up and put out of reach in rooms where your dogs are socialising. Once you have your dogs eating near each other, you can slowly reintroduce these if you want to, however, NEVER leave dogs alone together unsupervised with toys or long-lasting treats.
NOTE: We do not recommend EVER giving your dog(s) rawhide treats, you should also never feed any cooked bones.
It’s a great idea to run daily training sessions of about 10 minutes with your dog(s). As well as providing enrichment it helps you to teach your dogs to focus on you. The more training you do, the more easily you’ll be able to manage situations. Start with basic commands such as “sit” and “stay”. Once your dog has mastered these, you can progress to looking for dog training games and tips online. If you find yourself getting frustrated or your dog is struggling to master a new command, go back to one they have previously mastered and end on a positive note – remember this should be fun for you and your dog!
Don’t Get Complacent!
Continue to separate your pets when you are not there to supervise.
REMEMBER, you are not alone, and our team are always available to provide advice and guidance where needed. Just message your admin or a member of the Pawprints if you have any questions or concerns.