Welcome to the Pack

So, you’re ready for the joy of living with your own pack. And why not? It’s the best way to go with dogs. But maybe you’ve had a single dog in your home for a number of years and worry about introducing another one (or two) into the mix. Although it’s possible (in cases where a dog has imprinted so heavily upon his human family) to experience a problem or two, it’s usually easy to build up the pack. So step right up. Here’s how.

“Ginger, this is Amy.  Amy, this is Ginger.” When introducing a new dog into your family, a few common sense guidelines can prevent trouble and open the door to unlimited tail-wagging.  First, get some extra human hands to help. Next, be sure that all dogs are on leashes and under control. Perhaps most importantly, make the initial introduction on neutral territory to eliminate turf issues.

Let the dogs get acquainted at their own pace and allow for natural behavior to take place. Dogs are generally very good at working things out themselves if we don’t interfere too much. You must be there, though, to deal with any sign of serious trouble. If trouble does develop, remain calm. Stay in charge and don’t panic. If dogs sense a loss of control, the situation could go downhill from there.

Offer praise and treats to all the dogs for cooperating and let them know they are loved. That’s especially important for the dog or dogs who already live with you.  These guys don’t need to feel that they are somehow losing status. Instead, they should be helped to understand that they’re gaining a special new friend.

Feed the new dog in a place where he won’t feel threatened and can enjoy his meal without one eye on the other dogs. Place the food bowls in the same place for each feeding and feed in the same order, usually older (or alpha) dogs on down. Don’t forget to elevate food dishes for larger dogs.

Gradually increase the length of your get-acquainted sessions and before long (maybe the same day) you could have a happy pack.

© Stan Petrey