Published: January 19, 2018  

Last updated: May 25, 2021  

So you’re thinking about adopting a second dog? Do you have a vision that both dogs will be best friends, play and run around the backyard together, then snuggle on the dog bed together at the end of the day? We have almost always had two dogs at the same time in our family.

Two dogs sleeping together

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But wait, how do you know they’ll be best friends? Are you friends with everyone you meet? Most of us have people we are acquaintances with because we have to be, then we have a small group of close friends that we go out and have fun together.

Don’t expect your dog to love every dog just because you do. And don’t be disappointed if your current and a newly adopted dog don’t hit it off right away. It’s okay for them to just coexist, they don’t need to snuggle and be best buds just because you want them to.

Just as a side note, I am going to refer to your current dog has HE or HIM and your new dog as SHE or HER, just to try and make things less confusing.

Prepare for Adopting a Second Dog

Step 1: Start off by selecting the right dog to be his companion

Think about your current dog’s personality. Try to find a new dog to adopt that will compliment or match your current dog’s energy and personality traits.

Is your dog fearful or lack confidence? A perfect companion may be a confident dog to help teach him to become more confident in himself.

Is he a senior or low-energy dog? Then bringing in a puppy or high-energy dog may just annoy him. Puppies like to play, bite, and crawl over and will not leave your adult dog alone. Consider adopting a 3-5-year-old dog or even another senior dog.

If your dog has any behavior issues, please ask yourself, “should I get another dog”? Those bad behaviors are only going to get worse when getting a second dog.

Also, consider gender and size.

Opposite sex may get along better than same sex. In general, I recommend adopting opposite sexed dogs. When that is not possible, the second best option is to have two males. Two females are the most likely to have issues.

Some items I highly recommend purchasing before bringing home your new dog are a crate, a second leash (leather is my favorite), his own food and water bowls, and his own dog bed.

Bringing Home Another Dog: Day 1

Step 2: Keep the dogs separate

here are certain steps to take when introducing a new dog to your pack. These steps are very important to keep the balance in your house.

I learned about this process when we first started fostering. The rescue insists that we keep our foster dogs and resident dogs separate for a minimum of 24 hours. I’ll be honest, when I first heard this I thought they were crazy. How was I going to possibly keep our dogs separate for an entire day! But they are right; it really works and creates a much smoother transition.

I’ve personally gone through these steps many times. Not only with my own dogs, but every single time we bring in a foster dog. It works, as hard as it may seem, these steps help create a calm and balanced transition.

Even the easiest, happy dogs can get stressed when another dog enters his home. It’s only 24 hours… one day of separation that can change the relationship of your dogs forever.

Puppy looking out of window

Step 3: Bringing the new dog inside the house.

Do not allow the new dog to run loose in the house yet. Keep her on a leash, in fact, I recommend keeping her on a leash for several days until you get to know her behavior inside the house.

Use a bedroom or a baby gate to separate an area in your home for the new dog to relax and adjust to his new surroundings.

Keep this separation for 24-48 hours, depending on the dogs. If they seem to be calm and both dogs are easy going, then 24 hours is more than enough.

Remember, your newly adopted dog is undergoing a lot of new things and can be easily stressed out. If your resident dog won’t give her space, then consider a bigger separation.

Read the Bringing Your New Dog Home and the 3-3-3 Rule for more details.

Day 2 or 3 with Your Dogs

Step 4: The first meeting

After the 24-48 hour separation period and both dogs are calm you can start the introduction stage. You need someone to help you with this step.

Never introduce your new dog inside your house.

If you have more than two dogs, introduce one dog at a time. Starting with the calmest and easy-going dog first.

Take both dogs for a long walk. The resident dog in front with you, the newly adopted dog behind with your helper (in a single file, not side-by-side yet).

Walk parallel to each other about 10 feet away, slowly working your way
closer together.

After a good long walk, and both dogs seem calm, allow them to sniff each other’s rears (it’s a dog thing).

Watch the dog’s body language, showing of teeth, growling, stiff erect tail, stiff body stance, ears back, or raised hackles. If any of these occur, give a firm NO, and continue walking. Do not allow this to escalate, as soon as you see ANY of those signs, separate the dogs and start to walk again.

Keep these first interactions short and sweet. Don’t overwhelm either dog with too much sniffing. Once they have a minute to check each other out, start walking again. Repeat several times until everyone is calm.

Once this meeting is successful you may go on to the next step of bringing the dogs inside the house. The resident dog should be allowed to enter the home first, then allow him to welcome the new dog inside.

Step 5: Giving the new dog more space

You can take down the baby gate now and give your new dog a little more freedom. I still recommend restricting one area or floor of your home, in fact, I recommend this for up to a week or more.

If you have a fenced backyard, then allow the dogs to run around free outside together. Keep these sessions short, again not to overwhelm either dog. Allow both dogs to come inside and investigate each other.

Never leave the two dogs alone. If you cannot closely supervise, then put them in their crates or separate rooms.

Step 6: Resource Guarding

If your dog has never had another dog in the house, you may not know if he has resource guarding issues.

Resource guarding can be guarding of people, food, toys, dog bed or any object the dog feels it needs to claim. You need to be super-aware of the signs, and if you’ve never witnessed it before it may catch you off guard at first.

Watch for a showing of teeth, growling, stiff erect tail, stiff body stance, ears back, whale eyes or raised hackles. This is a time you really need to learn your dogs body language.

If you have a resource guarder, then you will need to be super vigilant on feeding time, bones, toys, dog beds, or whatever he likes to guard. Even if you don’t think either dog is going to resource guard, I still suggest having separate feeding areas.

Read Why is My Dog Aggressive with Food – Resource Guarding?.

introducing two dogs slow

Day 4 and Beyond with Two Dogs in Your Pack

Step 7: Continue taking it slow

Take a lot of long walks together as a pack. Keep both dogs tired by giving them more than enough exercise. A bored dog equals trouble. Continue being super aware for several weeks or even months, depending on the dogs personality and temperament.

Read Top 5 Reasons to Take Your Dog for a Walk.

Watch for any signs of stress in either dog. If either dog gets overwhelmed, reduce the time they have together and slow it down even more.

Why is it so important to slowly introduce the dogs?

A newly adopted dog is under a tremendous amount of stress. The resident dog is wondering who the heck this new dog is, and why she is in his territory.

Mix these feelings together and you will get a dogfight. Not because either dog is aggressive, but because it takes time to unwind and to help both dogs understand the situation.

Is it better to have two dogs?

Having two dogs is better for our family, but maybe not for yours. Consider everything that goes into owning two dogs: including picking up more dog poop, more dog hair, more training, and more expensive vet bills. Is your current dog really wanting a companion or is all about you?

I wish you all the best of luck with the new addition to your family. Having two dogs can be a lot of fun. Leave a comment below and let me know all about your new dog and how the introductions went. Any additional tips to share with the Rescue Dogs 101 Community?

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About the Author

Debi McKee

Debi McKee is the expert behind Rescue Dogs 101 where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She is a mom of 3 human kids and 4 dogs and volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society. Click here for more about Debi and her passion for helping you and your dog.

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  1. I need help, I have 2 girls (sisters Athena ad Lily, shepherd and pit mixed) that we got them when they were 8 weeks old. Almost a year ago we foster a male puppy (terrier, American pit mix) when he was 4 weeks old, and then decided to adopt him. Now a year later, Bam (puppy) is getting into fights with one of the girls (Athena). She is not having it with him. Last week Bam try to get in her food and they got into a bad fight. Bam ended up bleeding a needing his wound to be cauterized. Bam antagonizes and starts most of the fights, one of the girls handles him better but the other one responds aggressively to him (again, Athena). I am not sure what to do. Bam has also started to destroy most of the house when left alone. I am leaving him on his crate when we need to go out to prevent him from destroying things. I dont want to give up on him, or one of my girls but I am not sure what to do.

    1. I’m sorry to hear about the difficulties you’re facing with Bam and your girls, Athena and Lily. It sounds like a challenging situation, but there are steps you can take to address it.

      First and foremost, it’s essential to prioritize everyone’s safety, including Bam’s. Given the severity of the fights and Bam’s destructive behavior, seeking professional help from a certified dog trainer or behaviorist is highly recommended. They can assess the situation firsthand and provide personalized guidance on how to manage and modify Bam’s behavior effectively.

      In the meantime, continuing to use the crate when necessary to prevent destructive behavior is a good temporary solution. Consistency with training and providing mental and physical stimulation for Bam can also help redirect his energy in a positive way.

      Regarding the conflicts between Bam and Athena, it may be beneficial to supervise their interactions closely and intervene at the first sign of tension. Additionally, implementing techniques such as positive reinforcement training, desensitization, and gradual introductions in controlled environments can help improve their relationship over time.

      It’s understandable that you don’t want to give up on any of your dogs, and with patience, dedication, and professional guidance, there’s hope for improvement in their behavior and relationships. Remember to prioritize everyone’s safety and well-being throughout the process.

  2. Dogs are just like people, the way they were brought up, if they were abandoned, they all have different personalities. We have 2 dogs that were rescued, one from the field behind the house, one from the pound, and a Sheltie that my mom had. We recently lost our German shepherd we had for over 10 years we got her when she was 5 weeks old. We have always been able to adapt our dogs to their new home and each other with a little time and work. Work with them, today if its not easy nobody wants to do it, if there is no app or button you can push its to much for most. Dogs are the best people in the world, but they know what they have been taught, and it can take a little while to re-train them. The age difference is the big thing to work around, we always have had a senior dog when bringing younger dogs in, or field rescue is around 16, we have had her for 14 years and our new girl is 8 months, so far after just 4 days there have been no conflicts, but the little Collie is a bit of a drama queen.

  3. We have a female spayed 14 lb. Rescue dog that’s approximately 5 years old. Two days ago we adopted a male neutered 1 year old golden doodle. We took our current dog to meet the rescue before bringing him home. I wish I’d read this info before! We’ve let them both have run of the house since we brought them home together. The new rescue wants to play with our other dog but she screeches at him when he tries. I made the mistake also the first day of giving the new rescue a NEW long rope toy thinking they’d play with it together! Wrong. They got into a fight (no one was hurt) so I have put up all toys. I need help.

    1. Start back and step 1. Separate the dogs. Keep the toys and bones away. Walk them together, and as you see fit allow them to play in the yard for a few minutes at a time, watching their body language very closely. Just keep it slow.

  4. We foster dogs through a local rescue unit and the dogs don't stop just because it's winter. Trying to take them on long walks while they adjust to each other is not feasible in our area. Any suggestions on how else to deal with this?
    Thanks for any input you might have.

    1. Even short walks will do a world of good. If taking them outside is not possible at all, then keep them separate inside the house for a few days until both dogs have time to adjust to each other.

  5. she is mannered better and she is calmer so she is able to free roam a bit more but i may have upset him for that reason. with all the kids its hard because sometimes they need to be crated when my two small babies are running through the house. both dogs are beautifully social with the children but they are BIG.

    What can i do now that she has already been in here and roaming and hes been feeling rebellious and betrayed

    1. Start back at square one. Your male was there first, it’s his home, so make sure he feels comfortable knowing she isn’t taking over. Make sure both dogs get equal alone time with you or the main caregiver. It’s still very early, so they are both is still adjusting. Read the 3-3-3 rule to help clarify the adjustment period.

  6. I have a male american bully named benz, he is almost 2 years old. I have six children ages 2-18 and my 3 year old daughter has ASD. Recently, a friend of mine needed to re-home his female XL american bulldog, she is six months younger than benz.

    She has been here for five days but i feel like benz is having a hard time with it and i can tell he is mad at me, i dont know what to do but i want to fixxxx itttt ;'(

  7. We have a different sort of situation here. We have a 5 year old female newfoundland and a 14 year old Aussie mix. They get along fine but don't interact any at all. Last September our daughter and her husband moved in till they can get a house and brought their 3 dogs, a 9 year old male golden, a 5 year old female golden and a 3 year old male Aussie/ shepherd mix. All 5 dogs get along but our Newfoundland isn't allowed to play with any of them because she plays too rough. Saturday we brought a young (not more than 3) female newfoundland home from the shelter. I only just now found your article, so first fail. We brought our Newfoundland in to meet her and tails were wagging, butt smells done and all was still good. No aggression has been shown by either. The thing is our Newf avoids her completely. If ours is on the couch and she comes near ours jumps down and goes to the other room. She's also upset with us and gives us accusing looks. Does any of this sound fixable or hopeless?

    1. I would take a few steps back and allow them their own spaces so the new dog can fully decompress and the older dog can have her space too adjust. It’s only been 2 days so there is a lot of adjusting still to happen. Read the 3-3-3 rule. Also learning your dogs body language will be a huge help. Read this article: How to speak dog

      1. Thank you for your input, I think we were expecting too much from both of them. It's hard to tell what the shelter dog has been through since she was a stray. She's very affectionate but doesn't know any commands, maybe she's a dumped mill dog. We will step back and just be more patient.

  8. I have a 4 year old doberman, that was a rescue at 6 months old, brilliant with kids and people, not so much with other dogs especially when on a lead. I ended up with an XL bully supposed to be 14 months old but very large so could be older. I didnt mean to have another large dog I just ended up with him as I didnt want to see him put down as he couldnt be rehomed as everyone is put off by his size. I introduced them and they had a little squabble let them assert dominance and made a big fuss of Dexter (the resident Doberman) after a week of walking together and eating side by side sharing a bed or a sofa aswel as their humans, I am still scared to leave them alone together as Bruno (the bully!) Won't share toys. Dexter is now scared to play and barks at Bruno when Bruno is playing but only when he growls at the toys. I have been lucky for them to get along like this so quickly as I didnt seperate them the 1st day instead I gave each of them something belonging to the other so they could get each others scent spending the day out with the new dog so that they already knew each others scent before being introduced while the new dog had the day out to get used to us before the old dog. But now i dont know how to stop the toy gaurding from Bruno and dont want to leave them alone together untill its sorted.

  9. Please help! So I messed up and I didn't separate them! New dog is super sweet and amazing but my resident dog has had a history of being fearful of other dogs. He's lived with other dogs and he makes friends all the time. I tried to introduce them and they got into a fight. Now my resident dog is really scared in the house and isn't acting himself. Im not sure if I should just start over? Separate them for 48 hours or what? They don't have to be the best of friends but coexisting would be the bare minimum

  10. Hi! I adopted a 5 year old male dog from the shelter yesterday. I have a 1 year old female Shepherd/corgi mix. She is the sweetest thing but I work all day and thought perhaps she needed a friend. I def didn't want the trouble of a puppy. I know it's only day one but I am super afraid I made a mistake. New doggo is super sweet and isn't aggressive. He's already a bit attached to me which I find strange. Worried my resident doggo is upset. I definitely didn't have your info beforehand or I would have kept them separate and I now I think I fudged the whole thing up. I work from home and just thought why not. My resident dog has been stressed all day and is super wary. I picked a male dog because she has had several encounters with female dogs and she hated it. I thought she didn't like girl dogs but maybe it's just other dogs in general. What's the tie frame for adjusting and when will I know if it hasn't worked?

    1. First, I recommend reading the 3-3-3 rule. Then take a step back and go ahead and separate them now. Start today as the first day and start over. It’s going to take time for them both to decompress from the new situation. Be patient and give them both time and space.

  11. Hi Debbie, I recently…4 days ago to be exact, took in a 10 month old German Shepherd. I didn't choose this option because I was seeking another dog. I already have 3. 2 German Shepherds (7&9yrs old) and a 7 lb mix (5yrs old). I agreed to take the dog because a friend asked me for one of her friends. He belonged to an elderly lady who got him as a puppy. A few months ago she began having Heart problems and can no longer take care of him. When I spoke to her I could hear the desperation in her voice. I was afraid she would be so desperate to get rid of him that he might go to a bad home. I reluctantly agreed. He is a great dog!! I already love him. However, my 2 shepherds are not friendly and is scaring the new dog even though he is bigger than either one of mine. I should also make you aware that they are ALL males. The 7 lb dog is sorta of ok with him. My other 2 shepherds are not. I have 3 teenage boys that all agreed to help out with the chores of having 4 dogs. I am also very sick myself and some days cannot get out of bed. The sun and heat also affect my diseases in severe ways. After only 4 days it is very evident they are not going to be of much help. My mom has said she may be interested but I'm afraid she cannot handle a dog that large and strong at 10 mos old. I am struggling with giving him up. I hate the thought of rehoming a dog especially when he is such an awesome dog already. He is already attached to me and me to him. But I don't want him traumatized because of my other dogs. I know it's only been 4 days but I also physically can't continue like I have had to these last few days. I'm already feeling the affect on my health. With all that said…am I making the right decision for the new dog or should I push through and try to give my dogs more time? When I say I love this dog, I mean we have a closeness like I've had him his whole life. I do not want to do anything that's going to traumatize him. And I feel like the last 2 times we've introduced my older Shepherd to him it traumatizes him . He stands with his tail between his legs and hides behind me. It breaks my heart. I haven't even tried to introduce my youngest shepherd who is much more aggressive than my older one. I'm emotionally and physically drained already. Can you help me work all this out?

    1. I can hear the desperation in your words. It sounds like you already know what is the right thing to do. And I think you need to do what is best for your health and for the health of the new dog.

  12. Hi Debbie,
    Thank you for the information!
    I have a 2.5 year old male mastiff x who I rescued at 6 months, Fenix, who sleeps most of the day, not doing many zoomies anymore mostly chilled out. However he does bark at the cats next door and recently been grumpy towards puppies. I have really been considering getting another dog, because of many reasons, but I’m also very aware of the issues that may arise and I don’t want to “fail”.
    The new dog I’m looking at is a female and she’s 1.5 years old. She needs to be rehomed as she doesn’t get along with the other animals (poultry) in her previous home. She is energetic and apparently she has a bit of separation anxiety (follows her human everywhere).
    I live 4 hrs away from where the new dog is. So meeting them for walks would not be an option. I also live in a townhouse with a smaller backyard but I have lots of parks near me and I always take Fenix out.

    How do you suggest I introduce them? Should I bring Fenix to meet the new dog, which means they’ll be in the same car on the way home?
    How do I know if my dog would enjoy a companion?
    What do you mean by keep them separate? I crate train my dogs so I will originally have crates as my place is not the biggest, although Fenix does not use his crate much anymore but he does like it.
    If you have any wisdom or advice, it would be greatly appreciated. I’d love to hear your thoughts

    Thank you

    1. Separate meaning different rooms or areas of the house. They should not be allowed to interact the first day. Have you though about fostering? I could be a great way to see if Fenix would enjoy having a companion… and a great way to find the perfect fit for you and him.

  13. Hi Debbie,

    We have an Australian Shepard mix 4 yrs old. We adopted a Golden retriever/Great Pyrenees a month ago. I searched the web and found articles that said introduce them outside on neutral territory first. Then bring them to your back yard and let them play then bring them inside. All in one day. Which we did. Everything went well until about a few hours into being inside when the rescue attacked our dog. We thought It was just a minor scuffle. It was when my daughter was patting our dog our new rescue got jealous. Our dog ran upstairs terrified. He came back down the next morning with our other daughter and our rescue approached our other daughter then saw our dog behind her and immediately attached him but much more vicious this time. Now we have them gated away from each other but they constantly bark if they see each other of if they see us paying attention to one and not the other. Do we have to send the rescue back? Or can this be fixed? We love him already.

    1. Can it be fixed, most likely, but it’s going to take a lot of time to rehabilitate the relationship already scared. So the question to send him back is up to you. How much time and patiences and training are you willing to invest. Obviously you don’t want the dogs to spend the rest of their lives stressed.

  14. I may be bringing a 15yo female beagle home. I already 10yo male beagle and a 5yo female beagle. FYI i work in a senior assisted living facility. The lady who the the dog belongs has had surgery and its a probability she will not be coming back. I will not let this dog go to the shelter. What is the best way to introduce the new dog to the family?

  15. Would you recommend doing a short introduction outside the home on day 1 or just separation then introduction on day 2-3?

  16. Hi. So we currently have a 6 yr old rescue that we have had for about a year and half. He obviously has had a rough life. He is sweet and even tempered but does not play, play fetch or play with any toys. I believe it’s bc he was a stray his whole life. When at dog parks at times it looks like he wants to play but he truly never engages with another dog. Do you think adding a second dog is a bad idea? In my head I hope that another dog would maybe help him learn to play and to loosen up. But is this just wishful thinking??

    1. It’s always possible. But not all dogs enjoy playing with other dogs. He is 6, so not a playful puppy anymore. Maybe consider fostering dogs for a while to see if he likes having another dog in the house.

  17. We’re currently looking to introduce a second dog to our home now. Both are rescues so a bit skittish but generally placid and shy (resident dog a bit leash reactive, new dog quite a new rescue so very submissive and shy, nothing much known about his background, but he’s been with his fosters for four months) Neither dog plays with strange dogs ever (resident dog hates pushy dogs) but resident dog loves to play with her friends she knows well (they developed a relationship just by walking the same route every day).

    We’ve taken them on two walks together and they’ve been fine (mostly ignored apart from the occasional sniff of each other).

    Here’s where I’m worried we went wrong – we brought the prospective new dog inside our house at the end of a walk for a brief visit and our resident dog snapped at him a couple of times – once because he tried to walk in the door before her, and once because I stupidly put their water bowls too close together. The new dog yelped and backed down. Then for the rest of the visit the resident dog ignored new dog entirely (around the corner, sleeping near us) and then slowly went over to watch the new dog from a short distance. New dog was obviously a bit fearful and turned his head away, so they were both stressed. So we decided an hour’s visit was enough and took the new dog home, and as he was leaving our property our current dog barked at him a bit.

    We’ve planned to just continue taking it slow – walks together on neutral ground for a couple of weeks, no visits yet. The new dog’s foster has to give him up in a month so we said we’d take him then but now I’m a bit worried that maybe this is a bad idea, and we should just give it up – have we ruined their relationship? Can we still manage a happy integration?

    1. Obviously no guarantees. But I think it can still be successful. The new dog is likely now aware that he needs to give the resident dog more space. I obviously don’t know your dogs, so I’d rely on the foster to get her take on the new dog. Maybe even hire a dog behaviorist to help set you up for success.

  18. Before adding a second dog, you should decide whether or not your dog is ready for a playmate. Determine if your dog has any underlying behavioral issues that need to be addressed, such as: separation anxiety, excessive barking, leash-reactivity to dogs or humans, pulling excessively on leash, house-training accidents, destructiveness, and aggression towards humans, dogs, or other small animals. New dogs can and will mirror your other dog’s behaviors, both good and bad. One fido terror can suddenly turn into two and require twice as much work. Two badly behaved dogs make life miserable for both your family and the dogs.

  19. Do you have recommendations on what to look for in terms of getting a second dog that will best match your first dog? We have a sweet 1.5yr old 35lb rescue and are planning to get a second. Our current dog is very energetic, loves to play, but also loves to cuddle. He doesn’t resource guard at all and has never been aggressive to another dog. He has always welcomed new dogs into our house with no issues after greeting outside first. We are considering the second because we have always wanted two and our dog loves playing with/ being with other dogs so much. Should we be looking for a dog with a similar energy level and size? Any recommendations are appreciated:)

  20. So wish I had seen this website before we adopted our second dog. It did not go well. The new dog was super possessive of our house and continued to go after our much smaller younger dog. The fighting was escalating. I have a small house so even leashed, they would need to pass by each other to go outside. It was an awful 3 days of constant fear and fighting. Blood was shed. We ended up having to take her back to the shelter — it was heartbreaking. I am being much more mindful to bring in another dog!!

  21. I adopted a dog about 4 months ago. I already had another female, a senior female (who has since crossed the rainbow bridge) and my niece lives with me with her mixed Chihuahua male. All are fixed. Everything was fine until about 3 weeks ago after my eldest baby passed. First small displays of aggression between my other female and my newest dog. Now, I can’t let them share the same space. It’s been pretty awful having to constantly separate them as they get into it at a moments notice. Ive been bitten and they both have drawn blood. I’ve tried completely separating them for a day, used citronella spray, and even bought a pheromone diffuser to see if it is an anxiety thing. I don’t want to give up my newest baby but I am beginning to worry about serious damage to my dog. Do you have any suggestions?

    1. Is the newest dog you are referring to a brand new dog? Or the one you adopted 4 months ago? If you just adopted a new dog after the senior past away, then I suggest taking several steps back and keep them separated until everything calms down. Go through the steps outlined in this post. Take calm walks together, short times together, etc.

  22. We have just adopted my 15 month old staffy pups brother, from the same litter. We have separated them in the house or they rough & tumble their way round. They play in the garden but when the smaller girl has had enough she bares her teeth so I stop play. How can I encourage calm when together in the house? They walk beautifully together on a lead with 1 person to 1 dog.

  23. Thanks for this post! We just began fostering a new puppy (well now we’re keeping him). These are great tips and still help us to balance them together.

  24. Hi Debi, I’ve just come across your website while looking for some advice on introducing my son’s new 14 week old female puppy to Milo, our 8 year old ale cocker spaniel. The first couple of visits to our home with the puppy went reasonably well but when my son visited yesterday Milo growled at the puppy a couple of times when she got too close to one of us or we showed the puppy any attention. I am quite anxious about this escalating in the future. What would your advice be please?

    1. I would socialize them together outside of your home before bringing them together inside. Find a neutral ground, or take them for walks together. Puppies can be very “in your face” and many older dogs don’t like that. Milo should be allowed to correct the puppy but not hurt him. So a growl is okay for correction, but not in the context of claiming you.

  25. I have a foster dog and my 7 year old corgi and I wish I knew this before. I had attempted to foster before but my corgi started being extremely protective over my father, who is sick. He herds him to make sure he doesn’t do anything bad.

    The foster is SO laid back, he took the corgi growling and turned his head slowly and froze. I don’t want to give up as this is fully day 1 so I’ll set up a crate and keep our foster in there for 24 hours.

    I didn’t think about it but the foster has been in my office and my corgi has been in the living room with my parents. Do you think that when I work, I should keep one in a crate and away from the other or ‘pick’ an area to be in? Or should I always be with my corgi until they slowly get adjusted?

    My corgi has behavioral issues on and off and will love another dog or not. He’s very guarded but when he goes outside he looks at the fences and wags his tail and often hides behind my dad’s chair for hours. I’m always unsure of how to read him since we lost his bond mate and have been hoping to find another animal he could bond with but I’m just not sure now.

  26. Hi Debi! Thank you so much for the great information! I wish I would have found it sooner. We just rescued our second Doberman 3 days ago. New dog Hunter is male, resident dog Harley is female. We’ve had her 8 months and she’s learned so much and is very well trained/behaved. Does great with other dogs but does get snippy in the house with people/dogs. We introduced them at the rescue, walked a lot, then let them loose in our backyard upon arrival. They play well, but Harley does this thing where she puts both her front paws on his back, showing dominance? She snaps at him in the house (resource guarding or just if he does something/goes somewhere she doesn’t like). Luckily, he is a total softie and doesn’t seem to mind it, just takes the correction and backs off then (sometimes even right away) goes back to try to play.

    So I guess my questions would be, how do we limit play? (We think they’re both about 3-4 years old) Will they naturally calm down in time? He wants to play all the time and she gets tired of it, assuming because she’s used to sleeping/lounging all day. How will we be able to tell when they’re ok being left alone?

    We feed them separately and don’t give either toys (causes scuffles) but he follows her around incessantly, mostly trying to play. We separate them in the evenings to rest so we can cook/eat/clean etc but that’s the only way they’ll stop playing.

    1. It sounds like Hunter is very passive, he sounds a lot like our Bear and Harley a lot like our Ginger. He tolerates her bratty behavior, but over the years it has distanced their relationship. Bear use to want to play with her, now he does anything he can to avoid her. So, you need to take some steps back with your dogs. Start limiting their interactions. Give them both some space of their own. You can use baby gates or closed doors, whatever it takes. Allow them to play outside together but as soon as Harley starts acting up, stop her and tell her NO in a firm voice. If she doesn’t’ stop, use your body pressure to invade her space to move her on. Once she starts behaving outside, Slowly allow them together inside the house, supervised only. Again do not allow her to continue her bratty behavior. I recommend teaching them both the Place Command. It’s going to take some time and patience. I hope this helps.

  27. Hi!
    I am at a loss as to what to do. Last March we fostered a dog (3-4 years old) and it got along so well with our 6 month old puppy, we decided to keep her. After adopting her the rescue put us in contact with the person who had found her at a cemetery and kept her for 6 months. This person stated she could not keep her due to aggression towards their small dog. The rescue was well aware that we also had a small dog. However, the small dog is always by my side and they have done fine. I was also told the rescue guarded her food but nothing else. I feed her in her crate so this was not an issue. For the first several months she had no issues with other items, then all of a sudden she lunged for my small dog who was sitting beside me chewing her bone. I caught her and prevented any contact. So, we would put her in a separate room when we gave them all bones. She seemed to get over this as well as the food guarding. Several months ago, she lunged and began a fight with the puppy ( now a year old). It was difficult to separate them and very traumatic for my husband and I as well as the dogs. We separated them for awhile and they eventually got back to being buddies. 3 weeks ago the rescue attacked the one year old again, she had a toy hide on the chair and the one year old walked by. She does not growl or give warnings, she just lunges. This time the rescue did have puncture wounds to her face even though she is about 10 pounds more than the other. We have not had any success putting them together since. I am able to walk them together but anything else the rescue is aggressive and the one year old is fearful ( she is part sight hound) she is typically very submissive and reacts out of fear when this occurs. The rescue has come a long way in her training but we have also hit a plateau, she is a bit resistant with me at times now also as far as following commands even leashed. We have had 2 different behaviorists come to the house the first ultimately discussed rehoming (giving back to rescue). The second stated they would try but would need to use prong collar and e collar… I’m not a fan particularly for a dog that has a history of abuse and neglect. She also has been to the vet to check for medical issues in which there were none. The vet also put her on calming meds approximately 2 months ago. We have invested a great deal in this dog and adore her but are wondering if she would be happier in a home without other dogs. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you very much.

    1. I wholeheartedly feel for you. Your rescue is a resource guarder. Our dog, Ginger, has very similar behavior issues. We’ve been working with her for almost 4 years now. She gets better for months, then we let our guard down and she has a relapse. I have many times wondered if she’d be happier in a one dog, one person family. But we love her and couldn’t bear letting her go. Read my story: Living with a Resource Guarding Dog. I can’t make the decision for you. But I wouldn’t count out the prong and e-collar. They can be tremendous training tools if used properly. You can’t just throw an e=collar on a dog and expect them to understand what it means. It takes time and lots of training. And i know you said she acts without any warnings, but look closer… she may show some very slight body language that is alerting you and your other dog. It can happen in a split second, I know! Also read: The Prong Collar, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and How to Talk to Dogs. I hope this helps!

  28. Hi!
    I wish I would have read this article sooner. We brought home a 10 month old female lab mix to foster for possible adoption from our local shelter yesterday. We have a 3.5 yr old lab mix, also female. She was also from the shelter. We brought our dog to meet the foster dog first and then introduced them in the back yard once we brought the foster home. Then we let everyone have free run of the house. The first afternoon/night went okay with the dogs pkk Lou sting and rough housing all night. We put a crate in our bedroom for the foster dog to sleep and our dog slept in our bed. I made the mistake of bringing home a new dog bed for the foster dog and put it on the floor in the living room where the two dogs then got into a huge brawl. My dog scraped the foster dogs ear causing it to bleed a little. Later in the day our dog now tries to lunge at the foster dog if she even tries to walk towards us in the living room and us guarding the couches. I put the dog bed up after the fight. The foster dog is scared and is pretty much sitting in her kennel. Should I start the steps over? What about bathroom breaks? The dogs do okay outside in the yard.

  29. Debi:
    I really appreciate your comments here and I’m going to follow them very closely.
    I’m still a little confused on Step Two…..Are you saying by “separating the dogs”, they should be in two separate rooms, sight unseen, for 24-48 hours. Or is it ok they can see each other through a gate?
    I currently have a two year old Coton de Tulear, who has free reign over the entire house. I will be bringing home a 10 week old “Coton” next week, so it should be interesting, to say the least.

    1. Every situation will be different, so it’s important to read your dogs. Start with sight unseen, then try through a gate. If the gate proves to be too much, then go back to behind a closed door. Just take it slow, wait for both dogs to become calm.

  30. Hi Debi!
    Thanks so much for your wonderful website.
    Could you please clarify step 2 in “The Best Way to Introduce a Second Dog Into Your Pack” article? I understand that it is imperative to keep the dogs separate for the first 24-48 hours, but does that mean they shouldn’t see each other either? i.e. will it work to keep them separated in different rooms, but visible to each other through baby gates?
    Thank you

    1. It really depends on the dogs. If they are very easy going, then yes they can see each other though baby gates. But if either of them get worked up over just the sight, then I recommend no sight. You can offer something of each others to smell.

  31. Mrs. Debi,

    Hi! We just adopted a 2 yo male pit/boxer mix from the shelter today named Marvin. We have two dogs at home: Diesel, a 5 y/o male pit/boxer and Zooey, a 6 yo female chi/dachshund mix. We had them both meet Marvin at the shelter before going through with the adoption and no agrgession signs were shown. We had them meet again outside when we got home this morning and it went ok. We hadn’t read your rules yet, and brought him in the house to meet the other two again. Diesel got very territorial and barked, growled/lunged and all other signs you listed at Marvin multiple times, inside and outside in the yard. At the shelter, they told us if Marvin backs down, then its a good thing but if he doesn’t, then that would be bad. The multiple times Diesel got aggressive with Marvin, Marvin retaliated and if we didn’t have them both on leashes, there would have been multiple fights. Is this a sign that Diesel isn’t going to accept Marvin at all, or should we give them some time? Diesel hasn’t reacted that way in a very long time and it was a little scary. Right now we have Marvin in our guest bedroom in his own crate, separated from Diesel and Zooey and are planning on following your rules you have posted. Thank you so much for any advice.
    – Keishla

  32. It’s been a year of family transition – my husband and I had a 15 yr old (Loki) and a 16 yr old (Aluna), both American Pitbull Terriers. We lost Loki to lymphoma this summer, and we brought home Apollo, a lab pitbull mix puppy, as a companion for Aluna. Unfortunately, we just recently lost Aluna to cancer. Artemis, an adorable little blue American pitbull terrier puppy. It’s early days yet (day 6), but Artemis and Apollo are doing well together. They love to play together, but still need to learn how to relax together, lol. Apollo is already in puppy training, and Artemis starts next week, which I know will help. Apollo is almost 5 months and Artemis is 10 weeks.
    Any frame of reference on how long it takes the relaxed stage to start??

  33. Hi

    We currently have a female Maltese Poodle named Pixie, now 5 years old. My daughters aged 13 and 10 yrs would love a second dog (as we are a busy household, two parents working full time, kids at school and various activities after school and on weekends) we feel Pixie most likely gets bored and lonely with us only being around in the early morning and late evenings, even though we walk her each morning she could probably also use some more exercise/play time. Having a companion for her would give her someone to hang out and play with in our absence. She is a lovely dog with a beautiful temperament, great with the kids and pretty good with other dogs on our walks (she was super friendly and receptive to all dogs regardless of size etc until a couple of years ago when she got a scare from an aggresive alsation who was running free on one of our walks and has made Pixie a little more tentative around big dogs ever since). I feel guilty that we can’t spend more time with her, does this reasoning for getting a second dog sound like a good idea and if so are we better to stick with getting a small to medium breed as the better option for her companion. I read that getting two female dogs can pose problems but am quite nervous about getting a male dog, Pixie lives in a part of the house that she can access the back yard through a cat door so a second dog would also most likely live indoor/outdoor with her, I really don’t want them spraying all over the house!

    1. First, male dogs shouldn’t mark inside your house. With that said, if the dog was aloud to do it in a previous home, or picks up a scent inside your home, then it will require some training. But in general, it shouldn’t be an issue. Only you can answer if getting another dog is right for your family. But it sounds like Pixie could benefit from a companion. You’ll want to find a temperament that compliments her. Obviously stay away from any aggressive tendencies. Instead of getting another dog, you could consider maybe doggy daycare a couple days a week, maybe on your most busiest days. Good luck with whatever you decide. We did just release a new online course about adopting a dog, check it out, maybe it could help answer some of the questions you have:

  34. Hi Debi
    Thanks for the super useful information. I have a 9 year old Yorkshire terrier. We had another who we lost recently. We are looking to re-home a father and daughter duo of 10 and 6 years. I just need to understand the ‘whilst in the home’ part. I read to give the new dogs their own separate area. For the first say week, even when we are in the home/ communal area should the new dogs be in their room or with us being there can the dogs/ us all be together? Obviously is anything happens I will separate them like a time out. Super clear on everything apart from this part? Thanks Helen

    1. So you are adopting a bonded pair, bringing them into your home with the 9 year old… after the first 24-48 hours of separation, and you walk the dogs together, they meet outside and then inside and everything goes well… then they all can be in the same room with you. Watch for any signs of stress, and don’t leave them alone for any amount of time. The dynamic of the bonded pair moving into your existing dogs space can be complicated. So just be very aware of everyones body language. Better slow than sorry.

  35. Hi, so I just moved and my landlord has 7 dogs, all of different breeds. I’ve been hesitant to introduce them since it’s only been a few days. Today we tried 3 of his dogs. 2 were okay, and one was displaying his dominance to my dog. My landlord went to let another dog in on a leash, and at introduction it lunged at my dog and chased him until my dog fell into a ditch. Do you have any advice on introducing a dog to a “pack”. I’m not sure if he’s traumatized, but I am. I’m also scared because he’s a 20lb jack Russell mix and these dogs are much bigger than him.

    1. One dog at a time. And not on the same day. Take it slow, very slow. 7 dogs is a lot, so I realize it won’t be easy. But take the easiest, most laid back dog first, and work your way up the chain. One dog, one day. And maybe even more than one day once you get into the dogs that are more dominant. Giving your landlord something that smells like your dog, a blanket or something, to allow his pack to investigate your dogs smell.

      Do they need to all be in the same yard or something? What’s the need to have them all meet? Because your dog is going to need time to settle in your new home first. If you can avoid interactions for a while, that would be best.

  36. My mother has a large mastiff (150lbs) who lives at her ranch. Unfortunately there are going to be many times in the very near future where our newly rescued 6 year old saint/sheppard mix (75lbs) will be staying with her. Throw into the mix my brothers Great Dane puppy that occasionally is there. My question is this. My mothers/brothers dog do well with other dogs and frequently play at the ranch with any dog that shows up. However my dog, the rescue, growls and lunges towards big dogs (I’ve noticed this on walks). What would be the best way to introduce these guys? As walking them somewhere neutral is unlikely and the intro would have to be on the ranch. Suggestions for control or best case scenario?

    1. Has your dog ever met a large dog OFF leash? Many times it is the leash that creates the anxiety and once they are off leash they love to just play. Could you have a fence between the two dogs? This would give you chance to see how your dog does off leash and still keep the other dogs safe.

      1. Yes, my dog has gone to a dog daycare situation where he is exposed to dogs off leash however I, or our family members have never been present. My concern is the location being familiar to the dogs and the territorial aspect as well as feeling the need to protect known family members that would be present. Any valid concerns there?

        1. If you are concerned, then it’s valid. You know your dog best. I would try the fence if possible. And maybe before leaving him for any long periods of time, go for some short visits to let them play. If you think he’ll try to protect you, then you stay back and let a neutral person be there. Feel free to join us in our free Facebook group for other rescue dog parents and maybe others have suggestions they’ve tried!

  37. We are adopting a 13 week old catahoula mix (possibly a poolahoula) named Roxy later this week and already own a 1.5yo wirehaired pointing griffon named Rowdy.
    Roxy has not been on walks yet, and is not fully vaccinated to do so. The two did meet at the foster’s house, but Roxy was shy with Rowdy. What is your recommendation for the safest transition into our family?

  38. I couldn’t do the introduction the way I wanted Lu lu is a year and half had her since 8 weeks Savanna is a year had her dropped off at my home this is her 3rd home and her forever home but Lu is having a hard time with it ur advise is great we shall work on our issues

  39. I have a 2y.o. wonderfully behaved pup (German Shepherd mix) who loves to socialize with people and dogs. When we don’t see others on our walks, or are ignored/ avoided by others (no judgement), my doggy ends up looking disappointed/depressed (the chin on ground sigh). I play with him and do lots of training, but he just has the personality of an ambassador. For this reason, I have decided to get a second dog. Just wondering if I am overlooking something.

    1. Martha, how does he do with other dogs in your home or yard? Every dog is different, so it’s hard for me to say if you are doing the right thing by adopting another dog. Many dogs like to be around other dogs, and there are many dogs that prefer to be alone. You know your dog best, do what you think is right for him. Maybe consider fostering a dog and see how it goes. That way if it doesn’t work out, there is no long term commitment.

  40. Hi Debi,

    Your article was really insightful for me. I’ve spent the past few days doing research on the second dog matter, since my partner and I are passionate about dogs and are intending to adopt from a local shelter, but I’m afraid I’ll have to work on my dog’s personality first.
    We have a two-year-old female who was rescued from the streets at a very young age (about three weeks old) and maybe that’s why she’s easily scared and feels like we (her human family) are always there to protect her.
    We’ve tried introducing her to other dogs before and she always hides behind me. I do believe she would love having a dog buddy, she’s the sweetest, but now, after reading your article, I’m starting to wonder it’s not the right time for her, or even if it’ll ever be.
    We spend half the day out at work and she’s home alone, so one of the reasons we want to adopt another dog is really to keep her company.

    So, my question is, should I keep working on having her meet other dogs before we bring in a brother or sister? Or should I start considering she was made to be an only child?

    1. It’s a good idea to keep working with her to build the confidence. If you do decide to adopt another dog, make sure it is confident dog. Maybe an older dog that is more calm and can be a support to your current dog. Finding the right fit will be key in it all working out.

  41. Hi Debi,
    Thank you for the information! I have fostered my first pound dog she is aprox 2yrs old. We have her in our home already and was scheduled to be fixed however she is in heat 2nd day into fostering. I also have another female dog around the same age. I was too quick at introducing them and which lead to my foster becoming defensive and aggressive, since then I have had my foster separated in another room and leashed when out of the room. This is my fosters 6th day do you have any advice on how to handle a dog on heat and in a new home with another dog? I have ordered a crate also. Any further advice would be much appreciated.

    1. Lara, this is a tough situation to be in for sure! The best advice I have is to keep them separate until her cycle is over and you can have her spayed. A lot of hormones running through your house right now along with stress. Good luck!

  42. Hi Debi

    Thanks for the information on this website. Unfortunately we found your website a bit late after introducing a 2nd dog into the house. It is a six month old young Jack Russell. Our older dog is 18 months old. Both female. Probably worse case scenario. We missed all crucial steps first up. Unfortunately we introduced them in the house, with the older dog going off like crazy. Problem we having is that the younger dog(who is a bit heavier) is dominating the older dog. Do you have any tips or ideas, or have we blown this.

    Regards Chris and Yolanda

  43. Hi! My current rescue sleeps with me, has free roam of the house, and although I know the experts say not to do so, but I free feed her as well, (she has never been an over eater, she’s very healthy). SO, I’m thinking of bringing in another rescue. I’m planning on crating him while I’m at work, until he is comfortable, with his schedule, and with my current dog, my question is, would it also be best to crate him at night? He will eventually be allowed to sleep with us or where he is comfortable when he is ready. Thank you ahead of time for your advice.

    1. Yes I would recommend crating him anytime you can not watch him, so that includes at night when are sleeping. You will also need to reconsider the free feeding. It’s impossible to free feed two dogs in the same house and know which one is getting the food… unless of course you are watching them 24/7. Food left out can also cause some resource guarding in even the sweetest dogs. So I suggesting transitioning your current dog to a feeding schedule. Good luck!

  44. Hi.
    I have a 1 year old and am collecting a 4 year old rescue dog in a few dogs. Both are very friendly.
    Does it matter that the new dog is older than our current dog?

  45. About to pick up our second dog today! I work night shifts and have been reading the vast majority of your articles. I feel a lot better about introducing the rescue(Nyla) to our pack. Thank you for the insight and advise! I’ll be happy to update in the following days or even ask questions!

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