Adding a new dog to the family

How do you add a new dog into the family? It’s a question that has almost as many answers as families, because there’s really no “right” way to do it.

We know people who live their lives in shifts. Members of their canine family don’t get along with others, so they allot time with each and shift them around. We’re not willing to live that way, and don’t think you should, either. Our dogs have to get along. 

Make the decision

Picture of a black and tan dachshund puppy being held - a new dog in the family

The first thing to do is take Yoda’s advice: “Do or do not. There is no try.” If you go into the situation knowing there’s a way out, you’re not fully committed to making it work. Give the situation your best effort. Don’t look for an escape.

Unless you have the mellowest dog on the planet, and the one you’re considering is the same, there are going to be some bumps in the road. Puppies are selfish, annoying, and often noisy creatures. Many times adult dogs are on their “best behavior” in a new environment. Their true personalities may only emerge after several weeks.

Plan ahead for a new dog

If you are considering adding a new dog, think about your life and schedule, as well as your available space. Think about how and where the new dog will fit in. How will you adjust times? How much time do you spend caring for the existing dog? Do you have time for another? Do your current dogs like other dogs? Or does he/she take time to warm up? Is the dog food available at all times? What about toys? Is your dog possessive?

These are all things to consider – there aren’t any right or wrong answers. You just have to think about them and make a plan. Maybe the dogs do have to be in different areas until they adjust. Do you have the space? Is your dog crate-trained? Do you have another crate or exercise pen? 

Maybe you’ll have to wake up 15 minutes earlier. Can you do that? Or stay up later? Or come home at lunch to walk and feed. Puppies especially need to go outside for potty training frequently.

Actual meeting

Most experts advise letting dogs meet for the first time on “neutral” territory. Think of someplace the resident dog doesn’t feel he needs to defend.. If possible, it’s even a good idea to walk the two dogs together, on leash, away from home. 

It doesn’t have to be love at first sight. It’s wonderful, but rare. Friendly interest in the other dog is great. Ignoring is good. Hostility will need some time and effort to make it work. In that case, the best thing is to consult a professional, positive-reinforcement trainer. It can be done, but it will require commitment, consistency, and the patience of a saint. 

Make it work

Commitment is key. If you’re adopting a dog from a shelter or rescue, give it time. Dogs are adaptable, in time. Be sure your resident dog sees the same level of interaction, love, play, walking, and affection from everybody in the family. A new dog should add more joy and fun for everyone – even the other dog.

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