Tips for Introducing a New Dog to a Home with Resident Dogs

Tips for Introducing a New Dog to a Home with Resident Dogs

Post by guest blogger, Abi Pennavaria

As a pet parent, you love your dog. So much so, in fact, that you’ve been considering adopting another one! After all, what could be better than more than one dog to love? Being a multi-dog family can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but the initial introduction can make all the difference. Whether you’re adopting a brand new puppy or a senior dog with a troubled past, there are several things to consider when introducing a new dog into your home.

introducing new dogs

Take is slow when introducing new dogs to your household. Photo by Hilary Halliwell.


Introducing Puppies into a Home with Adult Dogs

Adopting a new puppy is an exciting time. A playful puppy can help keep your adult dog active as well as provide him with companionship. Additionally, puppies tend to learn behaviors from adult dogs in the household, so if you have a very well behaved adult dog, there’s a good chance he will be a positive influence. However, introducing a puppy into your home can be very stressful for even the most well behaved adult dogs. To ensure that the transition is smooth, keep the following in mind:

Introduce First by Smell

Ease your adult dog into the transition of having a puppy in the home by bringing home something that smells like your new puppy. Your adult dog will become accustomed to the smell, and when your new puppy comes home, his scent will be familiar.

Create a Safe Space for Your Adult Dog 

Before you bring home your new puppy, create a safe, comfortable space that your adult dog can go to rest and be by himself. Sometimes introducing a new puppy into a household with an adult dog can be tiring for the older dog, especially if they aren’t used to a lot of activity. Puppies are typically very playful; as interested in the puppy as your adult dog may be, he can get worn out easily and may lash out at the puppy if he gets too overwhelmed.

Start Slow 

When bringing your new puppy home for the first time, have your adult dog meet the puppy in a neutral territory before bringing your puppy home. Make the first interaction brief and positive. Puppies are still learning how to interact with other dogs and may not yet completely understand how to respect your adult dog’s space or body language. Keep both dogs as calm as possible as to reduce the chances that your adult dog gets too overwhelmed or frustrated.


Introducing an Adult Rescue Dog into a Home with a Resident Dog

Adopting an adult dog can be one of the most rewarding experiences of a pet owner’s life. Many adult dogs have a storied past, and losing the home they once knew can be a traumatizing experience. Giving an adult dog a kind and loving home will earn you the love and respect of your rescued dog for the rest of his life. Introducing a new adult dog into a home with a resident adult dog can be a bit daunting, even if both dogs are great with other dogs. Do your best to make the introduction as positive as possible.

Set Up Playdates Before Bringing Your New Dog Home

If possible, set up a few meetings and playdates so that your two dogs can meet and get to know each other on neutral territory. This will also help both dogs associate each other with fun playtime, easing into the transition of becoming part of the same pack.

Conflict-Proof Your Home 

Even dogs that get along well can get into scuffles over food or toys. This is especially true when a new dog joins the household, as your current dog may feel as if his place in the pack is threatened. Your current dog may initially become very possessive over food, treats, and toys. Remove anything that could potentially cause a conflict by ensuring that toys and treats are out of reach, and feed your dogs in separate locations until they become more accustomed to one another. 

Spend Some One-on-One Time With Your Dogs 

As important as it is to spend time together as a ‘pack’ and nurture the relationship between your dogs, it is equally important to spend some one on one time with each dog. This will help you create a bond with your new dog, and reassure your longtime dog that you still love and value him.


Introducing a New Dog into a Multi Dog Home

Introducing a new dog into a home that has multiple dogs just adds to the fun! However, due to the nature of pack-mentality, it is important that you take precautions when introducing a new dog into a multi-dog household. The last thing you want is for your resident dogs to decide on their own that the new dog is a threat! Whether you’re bringing in an adult dog or rescuing a puppy, it’s important to proceed with caution, as dog behavior can sometimes be unpredictable. 

Introduce Your New Dog Slowly 

Even if all of your dogs are friendly and approachable at a dog park or other public space, that doesn’t mean they will automatically be welcoming to a new member of the family. Introduce your new dog slowly; start in a neutral area, like a public park, and introduce your new dog to your resident dogs one by one.

Add More Dogs Into The Equation Slowly 

Once your new dog has established a pattern of positive interactions with one of your resident dogs, now is the time to add another introduction into the mix. Keep the introduction short and sweet, and be sure to end it on a positive note, so that each of your dogs develops a positive association with the experience. 

Maintain Close Supervision 

Even if all of your dogs are getting along famously, maintaining constant supervision in the beginning is crucial. While your dogs are getting to know one another, they are also establishing their new roles in the pack; it’s possible a scuffle will break out. Until several months have passed without incident, never leave your longtime dogs unsupervised with your newest addition. If time goes by and your dogs are having trouble adjusting to their new situation, never hesitate to enlist the help of a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. 



No matter which dog you’ll be adding to your family, remember that it’s always a good idea to set up a few playdates ahead of time before move-in day. That way, you can gradually introduce the new dog to your home and the family while being allowed to decompress comfortably without the stress and intensity of a dramatically new environment. Adding a new dog into your home can be a life-changing experience for your entire family. Ensure that the experience is a positive one by remaining diligent, cautious, and providing unconditional love for all of the pets in your home. 

Abi Pennavaria is a dog mom, avid veterinary volunteer, and co-author of Saved By The Bark blog. She enjoys sharing tips and tricks for dog owners of all breeds.


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