Bringing home your new dog is always a memorable and exciting day for any family; but there are a few important things you should do to make sure that everything goes smoothly. If you are adopting an adult dog, you should always ask about that dog?s temperament with other animals during the selection process. If you already have another dog, you should also consider your dog?s temperament and any previous experiences with other pets brought into your home. As a responsible pet owner, you should already have the contact information of a nearby veterinary clinic in case of emergencies and you might even want to schedule the first introduction of a new dog into your home on a day that you know your veterinarian is open for business, just in case.
You can also bring your dog with you to the shelter to let them meet on neutral ground instead of bringing a new dog into the established territory of your dog?s home. The next best scenario is to introduce your dogs outside the house but always making sure that both dogs are under your full control. By the time you bring you new dog home, he will already be familiar with your dog?s scent on you, but you should try to familiarize your first dog to the scent of your new dog by sending someone from your family who has already petted your new dog into your home to allow your first dog to positively associate the scent of the new dog on a family member he already trusts before actually meeting the new dog. Then, with both dogs on leashes held securely by adults, they should be brought close enough to greet one another safely.
Even if they seem to get along at first, to avoid an unscheduled visit to a 24-hour veterinary hospital, you should supervise them closely so that you can intervene immediately at the first sign of any aggression. Set up a second water bowl somewhere separate from your dog?s water bowl, in advance, to reduce the chance of any territorial reaction by your old dog and feed them separately at first, starting with your old dog and then your new dog in another part of the room and continue to supervise closely. They should be close enough to see one another while eating but not so close that they are invading one another?s space. Supervise and don?t allow either dog to approach the other until both are finished eating and then remove the food dishes until the next feeding.
When introducing a new dog to other family pets, you should follow several general common-sense rules: (1) Maintain physical control over whichever pet is larger and potentially more dangerous to the other, just in case the initial introduction does not go well, (2) Allow the other smaller and more vulnerable pet to approach your new dog instead of the other way around, and (3) continue to supervise their interaction. Cats are understandably very cautious about a new dog in the home. Consider setting up an inexpensive pet gate at an appropriate place, such as at the door to a room where your cat is comfortable; ideally, gate that allows only the cat to fit through the bars. This allows your new dog and your cat to see and become accustomed to one another, but in a way that your cat will feel safer and be able to learn to trust your dog at his own pace.
In the case of smaller pets that spend much of their time in cages, such as rabbits ferrets, and reptiles, the safest initial meeting is to leave them in their cages and bring your new dog over to smell them that way. Likewise, a new puppy brought into the home also requires your close supervision when meeting any adult dogs or cats who could possibly hurt him. Praise calm and friendly interaction to reinforce it and use your voice to discourage aggressiveness or to calm an overly excited dog. Take your new dog outside frequently to avoid any potty accidents in the house because of all the excitement and to praise and reinforce him for relieving himself outside.
Taking these few simple steps should allow a more peaceful transition to the changed and hopefully harmonious sanctuary that makes your family?s house a home.