How to introduce a second dog at home using Victoria Stilwell approach?

Lukas and Jonas first introduction outside of home

Lukas and Jonas first introduction outside of home

We decided to add a second dog into our family. One of the major reasons was to provide a canine companion to our current rescued dog Lukas. Lukas is now 1 year and 6 months, and he has been living with us for 9 months. It has been an extraordinary and very positive experience.

We adopted  our second dog, JONAS, also through the Kodittomien Koirien Ystävät (KKY) association in Finland. Jonas also came from Romania and was rescued from the streets when he was a couple of months old. Jonas is now 8 months old and he was for about 6 months in one of the best ever shelters in Romania belonging to the Save The Dogs and other animals association.  After 4 months of waiting for all the veterinary examinations to be ok and an EU passport, we finally received our second rescued dog Jonas TODAY, 8.12.2013!

Here we are receiving our second dog at the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport in Finland.

Jonas came together with another rescued dog adopted to Finland

Jonas came together with another rescued dog adopted to Finland

Picking Jonas at the airport

Picking up Jonas at the airport

While planning for our second dog’s arrival, our major concern was how to introduce a second dog at home minimizing all the territorial and competition between the dogs for valuable items and attention. After reading several approaches (especially Victoria Stilwell positively approach), asking friends and the KKY association for tips, here is how to introduce a second dog at home:

Step 1 – In the first introduction, have both dogs meet outside in neutral territory

Lukas and Jonas meeting outside

Lukas and Jonas meeting outside

  • when you bring the second dog home, make sure your first dog is outside and out of sight of the second dog – ask a close friend or family relative to walk the other dog with you
  • walk the second dog towards the first or vice-versa, as if they would simply meet outside randomly
  • avoid meeting at your front door – your first dog might think that it is his territory
  • let the dogs walk to each other with no tension on the leash and let them greet each other if they wish so
  • if one of the dogs does not wish to greet – do not force, walk a few steps back and talk nicely to the dog and then try again one step forward
  • if the dogs wish to greet each other, watch for aggressive behaviour – if one of the dogs snaps or show the teeth, remove the dogs and try to walk side by side instead
Lukas and Jonas walking one after the other with Lukas our first dog in the front

Lukas and Jonas walking one after the other with Lukas our first dog in the front

  • you can try to have the dogs walk side by side or one in the front and another in the back – normally the second dog walks in the back, so that the first dog does not get confused with possible hierarchies
  • while walking let the dogs, let them do what they normally do: sniff around and mark territory
  • if the dogs wish to walk side by side, sniff each other and play, then praise verbally and with a treat
  • give the treats in a certain order – first to the first dog that came into the family and secondly to the second dog that has arrived – do this if the dogs are very close to each other. Otherwise, each person walking the dog can give separately the treat for rewarded behaviour in randomly order
Lukas and Jonas coming closer to eachother while walking

Lukas and Jonas coming closer to each other while walking

Step 2 – Bringing the dogs home

Jonas being motivated to go up the stairs for the first time with treats

Jonas being motivated with treats to go up the stairs for the first time

  • take your first dog inside and place the second dog on hold outside
  • your first dog should wait inside on the leash for the second dog to come inside – have lots of delicious treats in sight
  • help your second dog by allowing enough time with treats to enter his new home – especially if you have scary stairs (which is our case), or a lift (it might be that the dog has never been in a lift before, and is very afraid)
  • once the second dog has arrived inside the house, give him lots of treats to enter
  • have the first dog inside in an area where he does not corner the second dog and vice-versa
  • let the dogs greet each other again if they wish so – ON LEASH – once inside, the first dog might snap at the new dog, so be careful to watch for signs of territory
  • if the dogs behave in a friendly way, have them around still on leash at home – ALWAYS under supervision
  • if the first dog shows signs of territory aggression – place the second dog inside of his crate in the common house area
Jonas enjoying his crate

Jonas enjoying his crate

  • crates are excellent, since they allow your new pet to find a safe place to relax – have the covers of the crate placed so the dog doesn’t get stimulated from outside visitors
  • once the second dog is inside the crate, give him food, treats, water, nice toys to chew, and then leave him so he can relax and hopefully sleep
  • now you can take the leash from your first dog and let him as normally around the house

Lukas walking around the crate where Jonas is

  • while on the process, ensure that your new dog comes out of the crate now and then several times during the day(s) – make sure both dogs are on the leash and lots of nice treats to reward nice social behavior
  • if you have cats, the crate is again an very good transition for the newcomer and the ones already living in the house –  you will gradually expose the new dog to all members of the family, until one day as well can be loose
Our three cats watching closing the Jonas our new dog inside the crate, now uncovered from the side

Our three cats watching the crate where Jonas our new dog is

  • it is important that all the older members of the house continue doing their normal routines
Lukas enjoying his sleepy routine in our bed, while Jonas is in his crate

Lukas enjoying his sleepy routine in our bed, while Jonas is in his crate

Step 3 – Walking the dogs separately and together outside

  • there is a need to train your new dog to walk on leash and to learn new verbal commands. Therefore, you need to walk your second dog alone many times in the beginning
  • however, you need time as well with your first dog so that the bound that keeps you together continues to grow
  • having this said, you will need to go more times outside to walk your dogs than usually
  • it is important also that during the first weeks you do this process, and at the same time, at least once a day, you walk both dogs together so that they socialize and minimize territorial behavior
  • these routines will demand more work than usually, however they will pay off when you see the important quality time you have managed to spend with each animal and how they have managed to adapt to each other gradually

Step 4 – Having your second dog free in the house with the first dog

  • while your partner or friend walks your first dog outside, you can have your second dog free inside the house
  • during this process allow your new dog to sniff everywhere and praise him for good behavior verbally and with treats
  • show your second dog as well where his bed is and which toys he can play with
Jonas free in the house on the first day, already enjoying his to be permanent bed and chewing a toy

Jonas free in the house on the first day, already enjoying his to be permanent bed and chewing a toy

  • allow as many times as possible the two dogs to be on leash around the house always under supervision
  • once the behavior is relaxed and consistent with peacefulness and less territorial, try to have gradually both dogs loose in the house – beware of possible unexpected behavior, so one more time full supervision is needed!
  • try to have enough toys for both dogs, and allow the second dog to have a toy after the first dog has gotten his favourite
  • also beware of feeding times, in the beginning feed both dogs separately some 5 to 10 meters away from each other – first call the first dog to eat and then the second to eat

We will post more in the future with the developments of this introduction. We hope that it will go as smooth as possible and that Lukas and Jonas become close brothers in our family.


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