Introducing New Dog To Existing Dogs


Photo by Mandi Pratt |

Tension between dogs that live together is very common, especially when a new dog is introduced into the mix.  Existing dogs are not able to choose their new ‘brothers and sisters’, so it is up to you to ensure introductions go as smoothly as possible by following some general guidelines.

Tips for Safe Dog-to-Dog Introductions:

  • If the existing dog is a controlling male, then it is wise to introduce a more submissive female into the mix and vice versa.  Inter-female aggression is very common, as are fights between competing males, and while dogs of the same sex can co-habit peacefully, it is often better to mix the sexes up.
  •  It is advisable that the second dog is either close in age or temperament to the existing dog, making sure their energy levels match.  If a puppy is bought into a home with an established older dog, every effort must be made to keep puppy’s desire to play with the older dog to a minimum.  In some cases a younger dog will breathe new life into an older one, but age gaps can also be the cause of major irritations!
  • Initial introductions need to be made on neutral territory with both dogs on loose leashes, so that they have the ability to interact without the frustration of being held too tightly.  If the initial meeting goes well, both dogs should be allowed to interact off leash in a safe area, giving them freedom to form a relationship.
  • Established dogs can become jealous when too much attention is given to the new addition.  It is therefore important that both dogs get equal attention as well as having quality one-on-one time with the owner.
  • Feeding the dogs separately for the first couple of weeks will ensure that there are no fights over food bowls.  After this period the dogs can be brought together for supervised feeding, but high value chews or toys need to be given to the dogs in separate rooms as even the best of friends can fight over valuable resources.
  • Rewarding the existing dog when he or she behaves well around the new arrival and taking away the reward when the new dog is out of the room, will show the dog that the new dog’s presence means good things happen.
  • Taking both dogs out on a walk together and doing activities such as compliance teaching and agility will help to improve the bonding process.

If relations do not go well, then the above tips can still be used to form a program where the dogs are slowly conditioned to feel good about each other’s presence.

Both dogs need to be carefully managed so that they are never left alone together without supervision and should be provided with separate areas for safety and relaxation.

If fights continue to occur on a regular basis resulting in trips to the veterinarian, the decision to re-home one of the dogs needs to be made.  As much as we humans do not like to fail, it can be very stressful for a dog to live daily with the continual threat from a canine adversary.

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4 thoughts on “Introducing New Dog To Existing Dogs

  1. Amy


    Just looking for a little bit of advice around introducing a puppy to an existing dog please.
    We are currently in the process of introducing my mum and dad's new Wheaten Terrier pup to our 7 year old Border Terrier. Initial meetings have been on neutral territory and, other than a couple of grumbles from the older one, going well. Just wondering what the next steps would be in terms of socialising them in the house/garden?
    The border spends a lot of time there so for a long time it has been his territory I suppose. He isn't always too friendly with others dogs so I would like to know the best way to progress with minimum risk of arguments!
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated
    Many thanks


  2. Bex Pearson

    I have the same situation! I have an 8yr old Shiba & have her daughter who is now 9mnths.
    My father has a 7yr old Jack Russell & we did initial walks & off lead walks & all was good.
    When we walked & went into garden he attacked the puppy after about 10mins when she tried to initiate play.
    That was 4mnths ago & Iv been to scared to try again!
    We really need to fix this as I look after him & they have mine when we go away!
    Any ideas?
    Oh the jack adores the mum of pup but seems to hate pup!
    Kind regards

  3. Tess Smale

    We have a 7 yr old male cockapoo and a 6 yr old shitzupoo and now just got a female boxer puppy. of course the older pups did not like the puppy right away but we have kept them separated by a playpen in the living room for the puppy and supervision outside. they seem to be coming along but we know there is a lot of work to be done - the puppy started out not afraid of them at all but after a few "discussions" she seems to be backing down.

  4. ray walker

    Okay! So I have a male and female English mastiffs 6 and 7. We got a new puppy a few days ago she is only 4 weeks old because the the mom wouldn't feed them anymore because of the puppy teeth. anyways. our female mastiff seems to be acting like the mother she is (she had several litters.) Licking and cleaning the puppy.

    Here's my problem. she doesn't growl or bark at the puppy but after cleaning and licking the puppy. the mastiffs tail stops wagging she because super focused on the puppy and shes really stiff. WHY IS SHE DOING THIS? WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

    I am always with both dogs when they interact. and the mastiff will always unfocused her attention on the puppy when i call her name.

    please help!!!

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