Introducing a new dog into the household can be a stressful process! It can be particularly tough when the new dog doesn’t seem to like the old dog very much, but is friendly with everyone else.
In today’s Ask a Behavior Consultant, we’re helping out a new dog who hasn’t taken kindly to her doggy housemate.
“We recently brought a second dog to our home and she is growling any time my current dog gets near her. She isn’t like that to other dogs she meets.” -Domestic Dilemma
If you need help with a dog who is anti-social in some way, check out these other resources from Journey Dog Training:
- How Do I Teach My Dog to Play Nicely With Other Dogs?
- My Dog Doesn’t Play With Other Dogs. Is That Ok?
- How to Train an Aggressive, Disabled, Senior Dog
- My Dog Attacks Other Dogs in Doorways: Spatial Resource Guarding
How Long Does it Take for a Dog to Adjust to a New Home?
If your second dog is brand new to your household, keep in mind that she may still be adjusting. She might need time to get used to her new house mate and surroundings.
The general consensus for adjustment periods follows the 3-3-3 Rule.
For the first three days, a new dog will likely be in total shock at their new surroundings. Their true personality won’t be showing yet. They might be completely shut down and subdued, or more reactive than normal. Some of this will depend on where the new dog came from. If they are transitioning into a home from a shelter, the shock will be even greater!
If your dog is in their first several days with you, keep in mind she is still in this period of shock. Have patience and know she might just get used to your other dog in time.
After the first three weeks, they begin to settle in to their home. They are learning the routine and starting to show their true personality. This is often when behavior problems start to show up. It’s a great idea to get started on training and working through behavior problems during this time! The personality is starting to show, but habits haven’t been fully established yet.
After three months, most dogs have fully adjusted to a new place. They are settled into a routine and are completely themselves. You can still do lots of training after this time! Just keep in mind that habits are harder to break the longer they happen.
How Do I Add a Second Dog to My Home?
It can be a bumpy ride to introduce a new dog into the household. Even though your new dog is already in your home, you can still follow these steps to help dogs accept one another.
Step One: Proper Introductions
Throwing a new dog into an established household can often cause a lot of tension! Introducing two dogs to one another should happen outside the home in a neutral location.
Parallel walks are a fantastic way to introduce two dogs in a low-pressure way.
Even though your dogs have already been introduced, parallel walking them can help them further adjust outside of the house. It can allow your new dog a choice in when to approach and interact with your established dog in a more structured way
Step Two: Monitor Interactions
It can take a long time for two dogs to get used to one another in the house. Make sure you are always carefully monitoring their interactions so you can manage and intervene when necessary. Baby gates and exercise pens are incredibly helpful for keeping the dogs separate and letting them get space from each other.
Why is My New Dog Growling At My Other Dog?
As your monitor your dogs’ interactions, pay attention to when the growling happens. Knowing why your new dog is growling at your other dog will help you figure out how to get it to stop.
If your new dog seems completely fine with other dogs, think about the context. Is she meeting other dogs outside, away from your home? On leash, or off? How does she react to your established dog on walks together?
It is very possible your new dog is perfectly fine with your established dog in other contexts. Knowing this may help you feel less stressed about their relationship.
Your new dog might be guarding a resource, like a bed, toy, or bone. See if she is growling at your other dog when she has something she doesn’t want him to have. Resource guarding is a relatively common, but it can be a serious issue. If your new dog is resource guarding from your established dog, learn how to manage, redirect, and train to prevent it.
Your new dog might be feeling trapped in your home. Does she growl at your other dog when she feels cornered? If you have a lot of tight spaces in your house, your new dog might feel like she can’t escape if your established dog approaches her.
If you see your established dog approaching your new dog and you think she might growl, call him away from her and reward him for moving away.
Practice some management. If you can’t closely monitor both dogs, keep them separated with a gate or by putting one dog away with bone or Kong.
Step Three: Encourage Positive Interactions
Your dogs will learn to like one another more if you encourage and facilitate positive interactions in and out of the house.
Taking a lot of fun, parallel walks will ease some of the tension that occurs inside the house.
You can teach both your dogs to lay quietly on mats near one another when they get a special treat or bone.
And always praise and reward both dogs when you see them interacting or coexisting peacefully! Keep small amounts of treats throughout your house (and out of reach) so you can reward anywhere, anytime using the SMART x 50 method.
Step Four: Get Help if You Need It
If you don’t see any progress or the behavior escalates, it’s best to find additional help for your problem.
Check out some other resources on managing a multi-dog household:
- Feeling Outnumbered? How to Manage and Enjoy Your Multi-Dog Household
- What a Multi-Dog Household Can Teach Us About Life and Love
- Multiple Dog Household: a guide to training and problem-solving
Ask for referrals from previous clients to hear about their experience. Ask the trainer what sort of training tools they use, and ask what they do when a dog does something right or wrong.
When introducing a new dog into the household, always remember to be patient and observant. Your new dog might just need more time to adjust, or she may need help learning to accept your other dog.