How to Introduce a New Adult Dog Into Your Home

List: Posted: 01/09/12

You’ve decided to add a new dog to your family, congratulations!  Whether you adopt from an animal shelter or rescue from an Animal Adoption Event, a new dog will bring your family joy for many years to come.  But you already have existing dog(s), you may be worried about how to introduce them, and transition the new dog in to the fold. 


Well, the good news is, it’s often simpler than dealing with adult cats!  Yippee!


Q: What Do I Need to Do to Prepare For the New Family Member?


A: Every member of the family should be in favor of the new member, and willing to go the distance.  If you have kids, make sure you talk to them.  If you are replacing an animal who has recently passed away, remind them the new doggy isn’t the same as the old doggy, and that they will have different personalities.  If they’re not quite to that level of understanding, chances are playing it by ear is called for.


Here’s the thing - preparing for a new dog is subjective to so many details.  The breed of dog (cross or not) can be applicable, personality and temperament, age, and background matter.  So does the temperament of your resident dog.  The best prep you can do is properly assessing a match between resident pets, and the new one.


Steps I Do Highly Recommend:


1. When you’ve chosen your new dog, first visit where the dog currently lives.  Spend time with her and get her smell all over you.  Then go home and allow all the other animals, including cats, to give you the sniff down.  It’s an introduction of sorts to them.


2. Have someone visit with her.  If you have a yard, it is best to keep all dogs leashed, and meet from a distance to begin with, and judging by body language and reaction, get closer and closer until they are sniffing each other's... you know.  That first sniff is all important.  They are essentially learning one another’s names.


If one dog is over-excited, wait until he or she is calm before they are allowed to get close to one another.  If everything is going well and no one has growled or postured, let them off leash to play.  Once they’ve expended some energy, take them inside, leash your resident dog, and allow your new dog to check the house out.  If everyone remains amiable and happy, then you can unleash your resident dog and let him show the new dog around.


3. If the first visit has gone well, plan a date for your new dog’s present guardian to bring her over, but to stay for a while.  Let the dogs play together, watch the new dog with the cats if there are any and pay attention to any negative signals.  Sometimes, a resident dog will be protective of the cats, so mediate, with a water spray bottle if necessary.  Usually cats will get to know new dogs on their own terms, on their own time either way.


Q: So How Do I Integrate My New Dog With My Resident Dog(s)?


A: Say your new dog is younger, between one and three years old, while the resident dog is around six or seven.  You’ll want to recognize pack order first of all.  Resident dog(s) hold seniority so to speak.  Your resident dog should get treats first, pets first, and fed first. 


If you allow your dogs on the furniture, don’t allow the new one until he is well established in to the household.  This could incite some aggression if the resident dog is territorial.  If your resident dog(s) aren’t overly territorial, then they will likely be glad to share.


IMPORTANT: Never leave a new dog loose in the house when you aren’t home, UNLESS you have learned and been assured of their rock solid temperament with other animals, and they have no separation anxiety.  Anxiety can often turn to aggression which can turn to tragedy very quickly if you aren't there to separate the animals.


Always Keep in Mind…


As with all things, the transition of a new dog in to the house hold will take time.  There will be bumps, and it may be stressful.  Or it may go smoothly, as if your new dog always lived with your family.  That is just the way things are.  Have patience, reinforce positive behaviors, be firm with boundaries for unacceptable ones, and things will eventually stabilize.


Article by:



Mandarin MacLeod

Cat & Dog Behaviorist

Pet Consultant

Rescue Volunteer




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        The material in this article is for informational purposes only. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of See Additional Information

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