Watch Tip: Integrating a New Dog into a Household

Posted on March 11th, 2012 by Trish Roman-Aquilino

Watch Tip LogoAdding a new dog to the family, especially when there is already a resident dog or dogs, should be a thoughtful process, and should incorporate several crucial tenets:

  • Preparation
  • Patience
  • Pack Management

Many humans require time and guidance to acclimate to new situations, learn new rules, understand each other’s ways of communicating, and to form bonds…why wouldn’t a new dog require the same kind of courtesies? (When deciding to bring a new dog into the family, proper introductions to a resident dog are a must – please read these tips and make sure your new addition will be compatible with your resident dog).


Prepare your home ahead of time before the new dog arrives as much as possible.  At a minimum, figure out where the new family member is going to sleep; have a collar, ID tag, bed, bowl, crate (if crate-training), and leash ready.  Establish a “safe zone” for the new dog to stay in while acclimating – set your new dog up for success and don’t leave them to their own devices in room filled with expensive rugs, fragile furniture, or items dear to you, for instance.  Also, plan on keeping the new dog separated from your resident dog for some time, especially when you are not home to supervise, to enable them to acclimate to each other slowly, even if both dogs are “dog-friendly.”


Whether you’re adopting a puppy or a mature dog, patience is key to integrating your new pet into your household.  They will need to learn or re-learn housetraining, off-limits areas like couches or beds, and the unique routine of your household.  Your new dog will be learning about you and your family, and you will be learning about your new dog.  Establish a routine for your new dog right away, and do not put off their training.  Training and routine will help them bond to you and your household, build confidence in dogs that have come from unstable and unsettled backgrounds, and teach them what to expect from their new digs.  It is key to communication between human and canine.  Dogs adopted from shelters and with unknown backgrounds may have separation anxiety initially, or have picked up undesirable habits along their way, and will need your patience and guidance to learn good manners, feel secure, and become good canine citizens.

Pack Management

Management is crucial to integrating a new dog into the household.  Don’t listen to friends or family that say things such as, “just put them out in the backyard, and let them work out the relationship.”  This kind of approach can lead to dogfights, and tense relationships, and no one wants to have to give up their new pet because they failed to establish a successful relationship between their animals.  Always supervise play, feed separately, and do not leave toys and treats on the floor for dogs to compete over.  Once your new dog is settled in, and you have a better idea of the dynamic between your  dogs, you might be able to ease up on some of these rules, but for the most part, in a multi-dog household, it is much better to keep a lid on these situations that can lead to competition and fights.  For the first few weeks, plan on keeping the dogs separate when you are not home to supervise.  They will need time to establish a bond, and leaving strange dogs together can be invitation to trouble.

For more information, please check out these resources:

Humane Society of the United States – Integrating New Dog Tips

The Whole Dog Journal – Multi-dog Household Tips

The Whole Dog Journal – Multi-dog Training Tips

Adoptapet – 10 Tips for Welcoming a New Dog

Sharing this information with family, friends, and neighbors can make all the difference in the success of their new pet and creating a happy home for everyone involved.

One Response to “Watch Tip: Integrating a New Dog into a Household”

  1. Anna Nirva says:

    AACK!!! Someone else’s trash? Something wrong with it? “Used” dog? I wouldn’t adopt a dog to anyone who had thoughts like this. Someone like this should stick with a stuffed animal. I pity the puppy who lands in this house.

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