Introducing a New Dog into the Pack

Fostering dogs means that we have to introduce a new dog into the household at least a couple of times a year. A lot of times on a moments notice, and at odd times of the day. We’ve come up our own system of introducing a new dog to the packs.

Introducing a new dog.

Most experts recommend introducing dogs in neutral territory.  But with a pack as large as ours, that’s often difficult.  Transporting our entire pack requires more vehicles, and patience, than we have. They tend to travel only in the smaller packs, one group at a time for outings.  When weather and timing permit, we introduce the new dog to the existing packs outside.  If the weather is crappy, or it’s dark out we have to bring the new dog into the house for introductions.

Depending on the circumstances of the new dog, whether or not they’ve been vetted yet.  Are injured, sick, terrified, etc.  In those cases, the new dog goes into quarantine, in the master bathroom, until they can be vetted, vaccinated, heal up from their injuries, or simply get used to humans.

When the new dogs is ready, or comes to us already vetted and healthy enough to socialize.  We put the existing packs into their bedrooms, and let the new dog have run of the house for a bit to get comfortable.  Then we bring out the dogs just a couple at a time, so that we don’t overwhelm the poor animal.

First meetings are closely supervised, by as many humans as possible each time.  And we try to keep them short, about 20 minutes per group.  Again, to avoid overwhelming the new dog.

The first few days.

After the initial introductions, the new dog goes into an exercise/play pen for the first couple of days.  Coming out to social at potty and play times, and under strict supervision.  It allows the new dog to get comfortable with the other dogs, and vice versa.  And to watch for any problems with the other pack members, through the pen, where they can’t hurt each other.  This also gives us time to assess the dog’s personality and see which group he/she will fit into best.

Once we’re sure everyone can get along, the play pen is put away, and the new dogs joins whichever group we’ve deemed to be appropriate for them.  But are still closely supervised, or crated when that’s not possible.

Our dogs are used to having other dogs come and go, and handle it better than most, I suppose.  Although they get along with the new foster dogs, it takes them a long time to actually accept the new dogs as members of the permanent pack.  Months can go by before they truly become fast friends, if the foster stick around that long.  Most don’t.

Introducing a new dog to your existing animals doesn’t have to be a stressful moment, as long as you stay alert for any bad behavior, or possible problems.  But leaving the new dog unattended with the existing dogs shouldn’t be done for at least a few weeks.

How do you introduce new dogs to your household?

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