I am often asked how to what is the best way to introduce new dogs/ foster dogs to your pack. I think everyone has to find what work best for their dogs as every dog is different. Sometime it takes some trial and error but avoiding mistakes is always better for everyone: when two dogs have a serious argument, it is very likely that they will be arguing for a long time, possibly forever. Avoiding that first squabble is the best road to long term peace. This blog post from “The Good Dog Life Blog” is well written and a good reminders that going slow is one of the key ingredients. Walking the dogs together, avoiding excitement, be very clear with your body language to let your dogs know the new one is not here to bring trouble…. there are many things we can do to help dogs figure each other out. Age also makes a difference: when I had to introduce a new male to my senior male dog, it took days before I was comfortable with them being in the same room.
With my current dogs, I learned that I need to first get Kiara alone past the nervous stage with the new foster before adding Livingston to the mix: If Livingston senses that Kiara is nervous, he feels the need to jump in a protect her. On the other hand, if he senses that Kiara is fine and relaxed with the new dog then he is a lot more relaxed as well.
Of course, never forget that your dog will tell you what he/she wants. Do not force a companion to a dog who really wants or needs to be an only dog. Just because your dog like to have the occasional dog friend over to play for a few hours, it does not mean that he is ready to permanently share his space. When in doubt, ask for professional help: working with a professional trainers and your dog can give you tools that you can use for the rest of your (and your dogs) life. Every new foster I bring to the house is a great experience for me and my dogs and we all learn a lot in the meantime. Whether it is a foster, a new addition, or just a friend’s dog, correctly introducing a new dog to your pack is one of the best investments you can do.