Merging Households: “Blending” Family Dogs
Combining two dog households should be done gradually and with much supervision.
The “blending” of human (and canine) families can seem a daunting task, but it need not be. There are several things that you can do to make such transitions go smoothly:
- Introduce the two dogs first on a neutral ground (a friend’s house, a quiet park, a day-care center). This way neither dog has the territorial advantage.
- Supervise the meeting closely. Keep both dogs on leashes handled by their individual owner (pack leader). When dogs know that you are in control, they feel less anxious and fearful.
- Take them for a short walk in the neighborhood. Have the dogs on leashes but don’t force interaction. As the dogs sniff and get acquainted, speak softly and encouragingly.
- Pick up all toys, beds, food bowls, chews, etc. of the resident animal. Allow the new dog to explore its new residence in the absence of the resident dog. (Each dog should have his own food and water bowls, bed, and toys. For the first few weeks only give the dogs treats, chews, or toys when separated.) Feed the dogs separately at first. Pick up bowls when feeding is over.
- Keep the dogs in separate areas of the house when you are away or at work and they can’t be supervised.
- Make sure neither dog feel lost or neglected. Give each dog plenty of attention alone so no one feels threatened or demoted.
A version of this article originally appeared in AKC Family Dog’s “Ask Dr. Kevin” column by Kevin Fitzgerald, DVM.