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Healthy Dogs

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Adding Another Dog to Your Home

Dos and Don'ts for Bringing Another Dog Into Your Home

What Not to Do

Avoid doing these things when introducing your new dog:

  • Don’t throw two dogs together in a car, house, or yard and assume they will work it out. Even social dogs that seem to get along need supervision or separation (via baby gates or crates) at home for a few weeks.
  • Don’t keep the leashes tight when dogs first meet. The pressure from pulling only increases tension between dogs.
  • Don’t let the dogs rush up to one another.
  • Don’t use a stern voice, telling the dogs to “Be good!” or “Be nice!”
  • Don’t immediately introduce competition or conflict over popular toys, food, or bones.

Good Signs, Bad Signs

Wood tells WebMD that watching both dogs’ body language reveals much about how they feel. Look for these signs that it’s going well:

  • Loose, relaxed body movements
  • Open mouths
  • Wiggling bottoms
  • Wagging tails, low and sweeping motions
  • Play bows (where one dog puts his elbows on the ground and his bottom in the air) or other bouncy movements that invite play

Some dogs that feel at ease may also ignore each other after the initial hello.

Phifer says that some barking is OK, if it’s happy barking, and he says, “Some mounting is normal.”

Watch for these signs that dogs feel uneasy:

  • Closed mouths
  • Tails held high, with a tic-tic-tic motion
  • Prolonged body stiffness
  • Forward ears
  • Staring
  • Growling

He says it's normal for dogs to ignore each other somewhat, but "what I don’t want to see is avoidance. I don’t want to see Dog A trying to get away from Dog B.”

Fearful dogs can appear either grumpy or completely tucked up and worried, with tails clamped to their stomachs and ears flat against their heads.

If either dog shows any of these stress signals, pleasantly call them apart, then ask them to hold a sit-stay or put them back on leash.

Wood says she typically knows within two minutes if dogs make a good match. If it goes well, she lets the dogs hang out. If not, she moves on to another possible playmate.

“We don’t spend 30 minutes with two dogs that don’t seem compatible because we don’t want either dog feeling overwhelmed or stressed out,” Wood says.

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