I’m often getting new dogs for training, so my pack is constantly changing. Actually… I got a new poodle on Thursday!
It is very important to me that the dogs don’t meet inside the “territory” of my pack. That way they are both on new ground, so to speak, that doesn’t belong to either my pack or the new dog. This puts them on a more equal level. It all starts with a walk so they experience following me together. I take my pack on one side of me and the new dog on the other side and off we go!
While we walk I don’t let them greet each other (sniff, play, make physical contact, etc) until we have walked for a while and they are calm. I unleash them, and tell them they can run and play. You’ll notice that, if done right, most of the excitement is gone by the time you unleash them and the greeting is very calm and respectful, because they have had time to calm down and they don’t have the initial crazy excitement.
I’ve actually never had any bad experiences introducing new dogs to my pack because I set the rules immediately. After our walk they come back to the house and just go to sleep next to each other. That’s the beauty of dogs: they live in the moment. It doesn’t matter that this dog is new. They saw that he follows me just like they do, so there’s nothing for them to do or worry about.
All the dogs can relax knowing that I will lead and watch out for them.
One more major thing I always do is feed my pack together. They all get their bowls put in front of them but no one can eat before I give them the command. I even start this on the first day that the dog is at my home. He or she has to experience the whole pack eating together and respecting each other. There is no aggression and no taking food from others.
How we feed and walk our dogs on that first day can make a world of difference – Stay tuned for videos on the subject!