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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Old Dog Doesn't Like New Dog

Help. I just brought home a new puppy and my dog doesn’t like him

Note: Pet parents should exercise caution.  If there is any chance of injury, guardians might have to keep the dogs completely separate.  Air locks should also be considered – at least two barriers between the dogs at all times:

Hiring a skilled professional is also advisable.  But pet parents have to be careful. Sadly there are professionals who can make things much worse.

Some things a good professional might advise

Set the dogs up for success
Start with some parallel walking (two humans), Stay close enough that the dogs can see each other but not so close that they might get aroused by each other and not close enough to touch. Note that this might not work for leash reactive dogs.

Pet parents can then move to a meeting in neutral territory.  Leashes can be used for safety but pet parents need to make sure the leashes are loose. Example:
Pet parents might also consider basket muzzles for safety if necessary.  Be sure the dogs are acclimated to the muzzles

If the initial meeting goes well, pet parents can drop the leashes. Let the dogs drag the leashes around at first.  This makes it easier/safer to grab a dog if necessary.

If things are still progressing smoothly, pet parents can remove the leashes.  Watch for any sign of tension.  Encourage the dogs to take brakes.

Note: depending on the dogs, the above steps might take several minutes or several days or several weeks.  Try not to let the dogs get to a point of tension, reactivity or aggression.

If things are still progressing smoothly, it might be time to bring the dogs into the household.
First make sure the household is free of anything that might cause issues – no food or toys lying about for now.

Meet at the end of the block or at a nearby park within walking distance and walk together to the back yard (if there is one).. Spend time outside. If things continue to go well, let the new dog in the residence, then the incumbent dog.

Let the dogs spend time together.  Try not to give too much attention to the new dog in the old dog’s presence – at least at first.

Watch for tension, and/or calming/stress signals. Calmly step in where needed.

Keep the dogs separated when they can’t be supervised – at least in the beginning.

Over the next few days or weeks, with the help of a professional, test for any resource guarding issues or other triggers.  Can the dogs play with toys together? Can the new dog be petted in the old dog’s presence? etc...  Can the dogs be fed in the same area?   If dogs are allowed on furniture can they share a sofa or bed without tension?
Is there any redirected aggression when one dog gets excited?

Take each issue one at a time.

If tension arises at any point, back up to a point where you were successful then work on desensitization and counter conditioning or simply continue with management.  For example, if a dog gets growly around a food bowl you can continue feeding separately (management) or you can work on resource guarding protocols.
See Jean Donald’s Mine and

Be aware of trigger stacking.  Any tension in one area can spill over into other areas. Keep the household as calm as possible. See

Discuss calming aids with your vet.  See

Here is a good article on dog introductions:

Also see

Dog Introductions:

How can I help my dog to like other dogs:

Helping two dogs get along:

Final notes
Not all dogs will like all other dogs.  Sometimes pet parents might have to work towards a peaceful coexistence rather than expect friendly siblings.
Other pet parents might have to keep their dogs separate or consider that the new dog might not be a good fit for the home.

And be aware of play styles. Dogs might like each other but if one plays too roughly, they might still require separation - especially if there is a significant size difference.

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