What to Know When You’re Getting an Older Dog

Introduce your established dog and the new addition in a neutral place. (By: photogramma1)

What If I Already Have Pets and Now I’m Getting a New Dog?

Select a dog who is, to the best of your knowledge, accustomed to other dogs (i.e., one socialized with other dogs). Also, pick the opposite-sex dog from the one you currently have, if possible.

Hopefully, you know your current dog well enough to know how well they get along with other dogs.

  • If yours is naturally submissive around other dogs, it probably does not matter too much whether the adoptee tends toward submissive or dominant (but not too dominant).
  • However, if your current dog is a dominant dog, one who has been around you for a long time, or a male dog (generally speaking), your best bet is a dog that tends toward the submissive and is smaller than your current dog (like a small, quiet female). Size can be important because your established dog may feel threatened by a newcomer who is larger than they are.

Introducing a new dog to your current one

Introduce your established dog and the new addition in a neutral place, such as a park or a home that is new to both animals. Both dogs should be on a leash. If your current dog is obedience trained, a down/stay is in order. Allow them to sniff each other and encourage play while discouraging aggression.

Should your adoptee show aggression, forcibly place that dog in a submissive posture and hold it there (as in an alpha roll). Then allow your established dog to come and sniff the new dog.

What this does is diffuse a potentially violent situation by forcing the new dog to be submissive to your established dog. The new dog learns to trust the established dog by realizing that the established dog is not going to eat him, and your established dog learns that the new dog is submissive to him. This fosters trust between the two animals.

This may not be necessary, but sometimes it is. By all means, if the dogs want to play, let them. In fact, encourage them, and don’t interfere unless you feel you must.

Following are three more things that can help:

1. Provide personal space

At home, establish a spot for each dog that is physically separated from each other: kennels, crates, or even different rooms.

Never feed the dogs together. Always feed them simultaneously in these physically separated areas (if they are in different rooms, close the doors while the dogs eat). If you must free-feed, the dogs should be placed in their respective areas for the entire time each one’s food is down. Also use these areas for “time-outs” when the dogs are misbehaving.

2. Don’t neglect your established dog

Be sure to spend quality time with your established dog, and just with him.

You may even need to increase the frequency of normal activities you would do with your established dog. This helps keep your established dog from feeling misplaced by the newcomer.

3. Have fun with both pets

Finally, do activities with both dogs. This encourages the dogs to do fun things together, plus it fosters pack cohesion and communication.

Remember, the general rule of thumb is to make sure that both dogs realize you are alpha. They will need to work out their own hierarchy among themselves, but they must understand that you are on top and you are in charge.

What about cats?

With cats, you should make one room cat accessible only. The easiest way to do this is to put up a barrier in the doorway.

As long as your dog does not want to kill the cat(s), they will eventually adjust. Make it very clear to your dog that they are not to chase cats — correct them for even looking at the cat — and things should work out.

Keep in mind that cats can take up to six months to adjust to a new dog, even a friendly one. Patience.

Now, in Part 3 of this article, we offer some tips on getting your new dog acclimated to your home.

Part 3: Comfort »

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