The First Introduction to Other Pets

1. Introduce your dog(s) to the new dog for the first time on neutral territory, NOT in your home.  Ideally, this introduction will not take place for the first 24 hours in the home. This will give your foster or newly adopted pet time to rest and decompress.

2. Have a friend of family member help you walk them together in parallel fashion before taking them into the home. This is called “Parallel Walking” and is a great way to safely introduce two dogs that don’t know each other. Walk them on either side of the street, humans in between so the dogs are always on the outside. As they seem more and more relaxed with each other you can narrow the gap until the are ready for the sniff.

3. Do not ever have dogs meets face-to-face, “chicken” style.  Allow them the space to arrange themselves so they can meet at arcing angles. If this is not possible, put your dog(s) either outside or block them off in the home so they do not overwhelm the new dog when it first enters. Consider letting them greet through an x-pen or strong metal baby gate, with praise and treats to both sides for calm behavior.

4. If you have multiple dogs, only allow one dog to greet the new dog at a time. Keeping control of the situation and keeping the excitement level low (watch for relaxed half-mast ears, tails held at or below the line of the back, soft eyes, tail NOT wagging vigorously) is the goal at all times. When excitement escalates (prolonged vocalization, especially if increasing in pitch or volume or standing on hind legs to wrestle) stop play and separate the dogs until they shake off some of the excitement and calm down.

5. Like all mammals, when dogs are in a state of excited arousal they tend to forget manners and rules. When excitement is high, ensure all dogs are at least 2 feet apart and under control. If they are too excited to be trusted to follow commands, secure the dog from the others for it’s own safety. Dogs have a personal space zone of about 2 feet and when another dog inadvertently enters that space during excitement, redirected aggression can take place, even among dogs that are otherwise best friends or long-time companions. This is why controlling excitement levels, strong leadership, and ensuring safety zones are very important. Your dogs depend on you to be a good leader, which means being mindful of their excitement levels, space zones, mental states, and taking action as needed so they don’t have to.