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Old 02-08-2009, 11:50 PM   #1
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Default How To: Build a Multi-dog Household

So, you have one beloved dog and are looking to add a second one to your household. It's easy to get excited and bring the new pooch home and let it run around... but whether your new dog is a pup or a rehomed adult there are ways to make the introduction easier and more successful for the long run. The biggest thing is that everyone in the household gets onboard with the new doggie... all the way down to your four-pawed friend!

First off, keep in mind that unless you have had a second dog in the past, the current dog is not likely used to sharing you or the living space. This can be a bit ... aggravating. To ease the possibility of this adding to the stress of the new arrival and starting things off on the wrong paw, the dogs should first meet on neutral ground. Leash walking them in a park is good, even the driveway could be a good location if the current resident dog isn't too territorial. Let them sniff and check eachother out at leisure. Do not push them to interact! If they start to play, mores the better! But do watch for any signs of aggression: lipcurls and growling could mean you are in for a long and possibly an unsuccessful run. Always keep safety in your mind.

Despite how well the dogs do outside the house, keep a CLOSE eye on things inside for several days at the LEAST! Dogs can be protective of toys, food dishes, favorite places on the couch... even when they haven't been before. Discourage this! Also, one can never be sure what might cause friction in between the dogs. A new addition can alter the previous dog's behavior (for better or for worse), and you do not likely know the new one's to well, yet. Take the time to learn before instilling trust.

If dealing with introducing a puppy keep them in one room of the house allowing the previous dog to roam the rest of the house. Babygates work wonders here as the can check eachother out but cannot reach eachother.

Calypso demonstrates in this photo how Taliesin was introduced at my parents' household before I moved out. Nate, my now husband was getting yapped at by a jealous Calypso who wanted in.

The pup being allowed limited access helps to out in safety, as well as allowing the other dog to feel less threatened by the little imp. Allow the two to play together with supervision every so often in the pup's area as long as things are going well. Work towards success. Crate training is your friend and a huge advantage with a pup! When you cannot watch them, you KNOW where they are.

With an adult dog the best strategy past the outdoor introduction is to only allow the dogs to interact when you can supervise them at first. Allow the new dog limited access to the house, in my most recent case when we introduced Parker we closed off the upstairs, the basement, and our bedroom. It meant 1 level of the house to follow him and discover what he might be interested in dismantling so we could move it, or train him out of being interested in it. On the first couple of days, if the new dog is crate trained take advantage of this.

Crate when you cannot closely watch, and at night, and simply to give the previous dog a break. Monitor how they are interacting, favor the previous dog who has always had your love and make sure they do not feel they are being pushed out of the way. The new arrival is not used to having your attention, so the imbalance will not matter as much. Eventually, all the dogs will recieve equal attention... but at first your goal is acceptance of the new dog. Praise good interactions. For example, if your previous pooch is in your lap getting loves and the new one comes up and is allowed to be petted at the same time make a big deal out of this! It is great, this new dog is awesome, it means more lovin's and praise.

As the dogs get along without incidence, gradually increase the area that the new dog has access to. Be careful if there are any signs of aggression! The dogs need to get along together reliably whether or not you are watching them. If done gradually enough, and they are truly compatiable with eachother they will play together, lay together, eat beside eachother without incident... save for the occassional 'let's rearrange the house when Mom and Dad are out'.

If you reach an impass and there are serious problems with in-fighting, keep in mind it may not work out in the long run. Or you may need a professional trainer to fix a behavioral issue.

Good luck on building a successful multi-dog household! May this be your living room soon! Happy Tails!
Training--the key to unlocking every dog's greatest potential. Have you unlocked your dog yet?
Parker- CGC, RE
Ion-CGC, Therapy Dog, RN, NA, NAJ
Presto- work in progress!
Calypso, Herding the Shepherd's Flock in Heaven May 17th, 1995-March 9th 2008.

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