Monday, October 22, 2012

3 Tips on Introducing a New Dog from @TheFurMom

When I was looking at the stats on US households with dogs, I wasn’t surprised to see that there are tens of millions of homes with not just one dog, but multiple. I can only imagine that this is repeated in countries around the world, because once you experience the love and loyalty of an animal companion, it becomes a need.

Currently we have three dogs and they getting along great. Two are littermates that came home at the same time and have spent no more than 8 hours apart. They’ll be 3 years old in March. Our newest family member is Blue, a spunky, 8 month old puppy who baffles the household with his energy, intelligence, and hilarious personality.

We were lucky, because our dogs adapted to our new puppy quickly and I’d love to share what we did to make it a somewhat seamless transition.

We socialized our dogs…

Some people believe that if you have two dogs, you no longer need to socialize them, because they have each other. Try introducing a third dog into that tight bond. We made a point of taking our dogs to the dog park regularly. If a dog park isn’t available for you, don’t fret, here are two great options…

1. You can arrange play dates with fellow dog lovers. You can connect with people when you see them on walks, at the pet store, and on sites like, which has plenty of dog lover grounds (some are breed or size specific).

2. Take your dog on a walk in well-populated areas. A friend walked her dog daily to a local park and then they would sit and watch other dogs and people walk by. This helped her dog get used to new people, dogs, smells, and sounds.

Socializing your dog will make the introduction of a new dog a lot easier.

We developed a hierarchy…

In our family, we have a hierarchy. What we found is that the dogs respected us more when they understood their role and position in the family. My boyfriend is the leader, I’m second in command (although I’m campaigning for that leader spot), then there’s Rodrigo and then Sydney.

Having a clear chain of command helps everyone get along. When it isn’t clear who the leader is, then we experienced more aggression in Rodrigo as he stepped up to be our Alpha.

When we introduced our new puppy to the family, he was low man on the totem pole and the dogs let him know by correcting him under our supervision. We wanted to make sure that he didn’t get hurt, but we were told by our trainer that the corrections our dogs did were natural.

"Blue and Rodrigo"
Love everyone equally…
It’s so easy to gravitate more to a new puppy, but we didn’t want to create aggression between the dogs, so we love the dogs together and separately. It’s important not to let the cute puppy hog all of the attention, pushing through the other dogs to get to their humans. This is a great time to teach “off,” “sit,” and “stay,” which are difficult for a puppy when they’re over excited, but when they get it, everyone is happy.

These three steps may not work for everyone, but they worked for our family. Our dogs don’t have food or toy aggression. They share everything beautifully, enjoying each other’s company, and their family. What we love is that we were able to rescue three gorgeous dogs and give them a wonderful life. It’s the least we can do considering what they give to us.

About the Author: Kimberly Gauthier is @TheFurMom to three Cattledog Mix rescues and two very tolerant cats and writes Keep the Tail Wagging from her rural oasis in Marysville, WA that she shares with her very own Captain America. On Kimberly’s blog, she shares tips on dog training, dog behavior, dog health, dog nutrition, dog safety, and new pet products.

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