Canines generally readily embrace new experiences with support from their humans but even so will need time to adjust to this wonderful change in their life. We recommend that you follow the steps set out below to ensure the smoothest possible introduction into your family routine. The timeline is set by the slowest animal’s comfort levels. The first meetings between the resident animals and your new dog can set the tone of their relationship, so slow and steady is best.
If you already have a canine companion, you would have been encouraged to meet the new dog with your existing dog already. Despite having met before you will still need to introduce the 2 dogs on neutral territory like the local park. A walk can be a beneficial activity to drain excited energy and allow the dogs to develop an amicable association.
If all is fine and the existing dog is not territorial, you should be able to walk them into the home environment together. Be alert to both dogs’ body language and be mindful that they may need some space on their own. Allow the existing dog to have its prize possession and favourite bed. Put the new addition’s bed with the transition bedding and toys in a different area for a week or so to ensure no territory disputes.
It is also important to feed the dogs out of view from each other. Whether on opposite sides of the kitchen bench or in different rooms. Food can be a trigger for even placid dogs so best to be overcautious. The Foster Carer has given you some of the food the dog has been eating to enable you to slowly transition over a week to the food of your choice. This is to minimise upsetting the dog’s tummy with an abrupt diet change.
For at least the first day / night, it is best to allow your cat to settle without adding new pets to the mix. Please restrict the cats’ access to the area you have your new dog in, by closing dividing hall doors or confine the cats to a bedroom. Do not use the laundry if the new dog will be sleeping in there.
If your cat is already used to a dog, it will generally accept the new dog within a few weeks. If the Foster Carer had cats, you should be able to introduce the animals over a shorter period of time. The first couple of introductions should be with the animals either side of a closed solid door. They will be able to smell and hear each other, as long as all parties are calm allow them to do so for 5-10 minutes. Praise the animals, call the dog away and reward (play session or treats). If you have a glass door, repeat the exercise as it adds seeing each other to the sensory mix. Read the animals’ body language. Only proceed when everyone is calm and relaxed. With the dog on a loose lead, partially open the door so that paws / noses can touch. (The lead is a safety measure but should be held loosely so the dog is not being inadvertently corrected.)
When you feel the cats are ready to be in the same room as the new dog, take the dogs for a long walk. A tired dog is calmer and will be more relaxed around an exciting stimulus. Again, have a lead on the dog but it should not be needed. Also ensure the cat has a safe retreat from the dogs, be it up a tall scratching post or into a room barred with a baby gate.
Please remember your new dog is going to look to you for guidance and instruction. Your new dog needs to be supervised and his behaviour monitored so you can guide him as to what you feel is acceptable or not in your home. His previous owner &/or foster carer may have allowed him to sit on the couch, be consistent, patient but kind in re-training this now undesirable behaviour. If you are unable to supervise the dog, he should be placed in a safe area with age-appropriate activities to keep him occupied, 2 bowls of water and a bed.
WA Pet Project endorses positive training and is happy to answer any questions you have now or in the future. We have websites and a team of trainers we can recommend all over the metropolitan area to support you and your dog. Most dogs, even though toilet trained, will have an accident or two in a new house. Please do not tell him off if this happens (do use an ammonia free cleaner to remove). Please do take the dog out every few hours for the first couple of days to give him the opportunity to learn where to toilet. Watch for the warning signals such as sniffing around or looking for somewhere to go.
IMPORTANT: Adopters, if at any time, now or in the future, you need support please contact WAPP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.