Bringing Home Fur Baby Part 4

Bring on the Furry Friends

Once the dog is comfortable and has assimilated to the human members of the family, you may begin the process of introducing other dogs in the household. Although it may be difficult, it will serve you well to keep your rescue dog separated from the other pets until you have thoroughly completed the human introductions.

It is important to know that when introducing the rescue dog to other canines in the family, the introductions should be done outside. This will bring down the threat level of the dogs and eliminate territorial issues that may crop up in the beginning. You will always want two handlers; one for the rescue, and one for the other dog. As with the introductions to people, it is best to have the dogs on leash so that you can control their movement. Remember, however, that a leashed dog will feel more threatened because it is unable to get away and knows it. Therefore, the process of introductions will take longer and involve more steps when involving other dogs in the house. 

The first step in the process will be to have each dog and handler outside, about 20 feet away from each other with their respective dog. Walk the dogs around for a while allowing them to notice each other from a distance while walking. Each time either of the dogs looks at the other one and there is no reaction pop a high value treat in his mouth and give some praise. This will help your dog understand that the newcomer is a positive thing to have around. Continue on, getting a little closer after each treat, as long as there are no reactions, but do not let them meet yet. After about 5-10 minutes of doing this, and seeing no reaction, you may begin parallel walks.

Parallel walks begin by having handler number one keep their dog on the left side, and handler number two keeps their dog on the right side; humans on the inside, dogs on the outside. Then begin to walk in a straight line shoulder to shoulder. As each dog glances over at the other, and there is no reaction, pop a high value treat in his mouth and deliver praise. Do this for each dog. If there is a reaction, separate them and go back to the previous step of walking around at a safe distance. Notice we haven’t even introduced them yet. 

Once the parallel walks are successful with no reactions, then have the dogs sit or stand and look at each other for a few seconds in close proximity. If no reaction, reward the same way with a high value treat. If you have successfully made it to this step, you can now begin the process of introductions. It is imperative to remember that when introducing two dogs on a leash, you must always have slack in the leash. This helps alleviate any tension or anxiety the dog might have. Also, you must not show anxiety or fear yourself. Everything must be “happy talk” (Hello Fluffy, meet Brutus, isn’t this fun). The normal course of introductions will be a brief muzzle touch followed by mutual investigation (butt sniffing), which then leads to play or parting of ways depending on the dogs. If the introduction is successful, the dogs will exhibit play signals (such as a play bow or bouncy movements), or basically ignore each other after the investigation. If there is a reaction, separate the dogs quickly, and start the process over, as described above. One you have made successful introductions in this manner, allow the dogs to be free in the yard, for play and further investigation. Only after some time has passed should they be together inside the house. You will do this individually with each dog that is part of the household. Only after the rescue dog has been properly introduced to each furry family member, should you try to have multiple dogs interacting.