Thank you for adopting a dog from FAW! Now you need to introduce your new canine companion to your other pets. You will need patience, a calm approach, consistency, and love. Please don’t panic if all isn’t perfect from word go: remember, the dog does not know he or she is ‘adopted’! He is in a new place, with strange people, and different rules to what he’s used to; YOU need to be your new dog’s guide and leader. Give them a chance.
This is an exciting – and nerve-wracking time. How you introduce your new dog now sets the tone for the rest of your lives together.
Remember, dogs WANT to fit in; they want to be part of your pack, with you as their leader. Start off as you mean to go on, with you in charge. They will feel more secure and happier if they know where they fit in.
Identify: The sooner you can put a collar and tag on your new dog, the better (take it along when you fetch them). Sometimes, bewildered dogs (or cats) slip out and run away because they want to explore or are stressed. They do not know your area so it is crucial that you supervise them, and ensure that they can be identified should someone else find them. It’s also a good idea to have them microchipped.
Familiar smells: If you’re fetching your new dog yourself, take or wear something that smells of your other pets (e.g. a blanket). This way he/she will get used to their smell before even arriving. It can also help to take something that smells of the new dog to your existing pets in advance.
Walk it off: When you arrive home, before entering the property, take your new dog for a little walk ON LEAD to work off some steam and have a wee – this helps them feel relaxed after a car ride. Make sure his/her collar doesn’t allow them to slip out of it and run off in the excitement (a martingale/half-choke collar is a good idea). You can also have someone else bring out your other dog/s so that they meet on neutral ground. If either doesn’t like walks or isn’t used to walking on a lead, then do the following:
Take the lead: Bring the new dog onto the property using the lead (not carrying them) – try to walk in ahead of the dog. Take him/her to the cats’ and/or dogs’ bedding so they can have a sniff. Watch your new dog to see how they react – he/she should appear interested and friendly.
Keep them on lead when introducing, especially to cats. Don’t allow the newbie to run into the house and up to your other dog or they may feel they’re being ‘invaded’.
Keep calm: Supervise them in the beginning but stay calm. Avoid ‘screaming’, even you’re if excited and happy. Dogs perceive this as unsettling or it can ‘wind them up’.
If anyone is anxious, overly excitable, or anticipating disaster, ask them not to be there initially. Animals sense emotion and can react accordingly; you want them to start off in a calm, balanced, and positive manner. They can meet the new dog when things have calmed down.
BFFs: Don’t expect new and existing pets to become friends straight away. Make sure existing pets, especially dogs, see and understand that they’re still number one – let them eat first, give them the same attention you always have, and don’t allow the new dog to eat their food or take over their beds or favourite spots.
Safe place: Young dogs and puppies can be overwhelming to senior dogs – make sure they have safe, calm place to retreat to where the new dog may not go.
Put on your walking shoes: Start walking them daily as soon as possible to work off extra energy and learn to listen to you. This is also a very important bonding time. You may need to take your other dog/s separately at first.
Settle down: No matter how much you want to show the newbie off, rather let things settle down for a day or so, allowing everyone to get used to each other, before having visitors over. When people do visit ask them to pay attention to the other dog/s before the new one. If you have rules that you want your new dog to learn, like ‘no jumping’ or ‘no getting on the couch’, ask that these be adhered to.
Enjoy it! This time is precious and you’ll have great fun getting to know your new pet!
Copyright: Fisantekraal Animal Welfare, 2017. Kindly credit FAW if you share this information as this helps to create awareness around our work, which helps the animals. Thank you!