Two dogs meeting in an wide play yard for the first time.

So you’ve decided to adopt a second dog, and you’re worried about how your furry friend at home is going to react. 

It’s true that some animals don’t respond well to a new addition to the family, but those negative responses are generally developed out of fear. Animals need consistency, and your pup has grown to appreciate your current routine. Abruptly changing everything they know can be detrimental to the personality you know and love. 

Thankfully, smooth transitions are possible with a little planning and patience. Your dog trusts you, and that bond is going to be essential when adding to the family. Give them time to acclimate to the idea of a new friend; slow and steady wins the race when it comes to creating a canine friendship.    

What NOT to Do When Bringing Home a Second Dog

When you decide to add another furry friend to the family, it is critical that you don’t: 

  • Force interactions: If the dogs are uncomfortable with each other when they first meet, it is best not to rush any interaction. Most of the time, dogs will open up with patience and a safe space, so giving them time to literally sniff out the situation for themselves will be more productive.  
  • Neglect individual needs: It can be difficult to prioritize time when there is a new dog in the house, but it is essential that you balance the individual needs and shared needs of both dogs in the house. Your original pup may feel left out, underappreciated, or even replaced by the new addition, and that could cause aggressive behavior. 
  • Overlook resource guarding: This is an aggressive behavior where a dog becomes possessive over food, toys, or other resources. They may growl, bark, or even bite when the object is taken away. There are a variety of training methods to reverse these behaviors, including trading the resource for something better, practicing the “drop it” command, and desensitizing handling. You may also seek out the help of a professional trainer to reverse resource-guarding behaviors. 
  • Punish bad behavior: Punishing bad behavior can actually damage the relationship between your dog and the new pup. This can lead to more aggressive behavior or an unwillingness to bond. While you should reinforce boundaries, try not to stress out either dog during the initial acclimation period. Positive reinforcement can help both dogs feel safe as they explore new surroundings.  
  • Leave them unsupervised: Before two dogs are left unsupervised, it is important to give them enough time to foster a friendly relationship and build trust with each other. Unsupervised time should begin in small increments with the owner close by. Gradually, the owner can increase the length of time when the dogs are left alone.  
  • Put off training: Socialization is a learned skill, and when an unsocialized pup is forced into group situations, it may act out of fear or anxiety. Dog training classes are a great way to give pups time to interact with other dogs and humans, build social skills, and learn important commands. 

How to Reduce Rivalry Between a New Pup and the Original Dog?

A rivalry that spawns rather quickly after your dogs meet each other is likely caused by some threat that one animal feels regarding the other. 

The best way to calm tensions between dogs that are just learning about each other is to provide a safe, calm space for their play dates. Of course, that may be easier said than done because both dogs could need different things in order to consider a space safe.   

Your attitude can go a long way. If the dogs sense tension from their owner, they are likely to feel less trustworthy in their surroundings and, in turn, the other animals. Canines thrive on positivity, so reassuring both animals that this is what you intended can calm some looming fears. 

The dogs may also have a hard time bonding because of different personality types. Maybe one dog is coming on too strong while the other is shy. Provide lots of entertainment and ways for the pups to interact with each other once you see that they are curious about one another. Try playing with them; adding yourself to the play date will create a neutral buffer for both dogs to lean on if they feel anxious or overwhelmed.   

Checklist for Canine Bonding With a New Pup at Home

The following checklist can help ensure a smooth transition into your loving home.

Introduce the Dogs on Neutral Territory

Never introduce your pup to a new dog in their own home. A dog’s home is their safe space; it smells, sounds, and feels familiar, so disrupting that peace can cause an anxiety response. By taking both dogs to neutral territory, you reduce the risk of your original dog feeling threatened by their presence and lashing out.  

A friendly, supervised meeting at an empty park may be a good option. If you expect one or both dogs to have an unwanted reaction, you can start by having the pups pass each other on opposite sides of the street. To do this, you’ll need a second person to walk one of the dogs on a leash while you handle the other. Gradually, you can walk the dogs closer together until you are walking together. 

Dogs may need multiple play dates on neutral territory before meeting in the original dog’s home. When they notice each other, body language like a wagging tail, approaching from the side instead of head-on, and slow movements are all good signs of a developing relationship.   

Buy Separate Toys and Eating Dishes

When your dog is getting used to another animal being in their home, you shouldn’t force them to change their daily routine too much. Asking your dog to share their favorite toys or food bowl may lead to unwanted responses such as resource guarding. Your dog may be eager to share, but let them make that decision for themself. 

Instead, introduce your new pup to all of their new toys and personal spaces personally. Show the dog where you expect them to eat, rest, and play. This can prevent an early fixation on something that your original dog cherishes like a spot on the couch or a specific blanket. 

Reward Your Older Dog for Good Behaviors

When your dog does something right, rewarding the action can turn a one-time behavior into a habit.

Positive reinforcement is a standard part of some training methods, so the response is fully controlled. In this kind of environment, your dog is learning to associate consequences with their actions. However, the consequences don’t always have to be negative. Being offered a treat after learning a command is considered a positive consequence that prompts the dog to repeat the behavior when told. The use of positive and negative consequences to train a response is called operant conditioning.

For example, if you give your dog a piece of food while you are cooking just because they are barking and jumping on your leg, chances are they’ll repeat the behavior because they know it works. When you are in the process of bonding your original and new dogs, reward behavior like sniffing, gentle touching, and sharing. 

Use this line of thought to continue reinforcing desired behaviors while showing your older dog that their actions still matter to you.

Be Patient — Friendships Take Time

Don’t rush a relationship between your original dog and your new pup. Instead, let them bond organically. Offer toys, open play areas, and your support when attempting to foster a canine friendship. 

Generally, it can take up to a month for two dogs to feel comfortable with each other. Forcing the dogs to be ready before they truly are can lead to aggressive outbursts, so it could take even longer to neutralize their feelings toward one another.

Enroll Both Dogs Into Training

Training greatly improves a dog’s quality of life because it can help them gain essential skills for safety and socialization. Enrolling both dogs in a training program can give them a neutral space to grow their friendship, learn about each other’s personality, and gain an understanding of appropriate behavior toward one another.

A trainer can also offer professional support through noticeable challenges or conflicts in their relationship.  

Greenlin Pet Resorts in Hershey Is a Great Place for Dogs to Socialize!  

If you’re looking for a place to send your dogs for socialization training, look no further than your local Pennsylvania Greenlin Pet Resort. We help all dogs feel like they belong as part of a pack, including new roommates in your household.

With six locations in the state, our goal is to provide every canine client with a safe and fun environment in which to play. We offer dog daycare and overnight dog boarding packages for training so your dogs can learn in a way that is most convenient for your family. 

To learn more about what our training services can do for you and your family, contact the Greenlin Pet Resort location nearest you or book your pet’s stay online! 

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