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Introducing new dogs and living in a multi-dog household
  • hondruhondru
    Posts: 529
    That other thread about adding a second shiba made me think that we should have an article on introducing new dogs to a pack! Also I noticed that Jessica asked me for any tips I'd give and for some reason I missed that and didn't respond before - sorry about that.

    Here's my method for introducing dogs. Feel free to comment or disagree with me, or add whatever input.  I'm by no means an expert, this is just what I have come up with after reading up on the subject and after my experience introducing three dogs to each other.

    Introduce dogs for the first time outside on neutral territory. Make sure you have someone else with you as you will need at least two people to safely break up a dog fight, should one occur. If you already have multiple dogs, introduce them one at a time, starting with the friendliest dog. Don't give your dogs a chance to gang up on the new one!

    Dogs tend to respond better to each other when not on lead, so a securely fenced in area is ideal. If you're unsure how the dogs will react and don't want to let them freely interact right off the bat, introduce them through a chainlink fence until they get used to each other. You can also leave their leashes attached to their collars for them to drag once they are freely interacting.

    If one of the dogs is significantly dog aggressive, you may want to hire a dog behaviourist to attend the meeting and guide you, especially if you are inexperienced or unsure of yourself. Make sure it's someone whose judgement you trust and preferrably who is familiar with you and your current dogs.

    Lastly, make sure you stay calm and deal with any problems that arise in a cool and collected manner. If you are unsure or nervous, your dogs will likely pick up on that and go on the defensive. In my experience, this is especially true of nihon ken as they tend to be especially sensitive to their owners' feelings and tend to respond negatively to stress in their owners.

    Once in the home, there may be a period where the dogs must be crated or otherwise seperated while they get used to having the other one present in their home. This is also a good period in which to bond with the new dog without the stress of having to deal directly with the existing dogs. For the introduction to go smoothly, all dogs must trust you and view you as a leader and authority, so bonding with the new dog is essential. It will also calm the new dog and help them be less defensive. Being in a new home with no leader to trust for guidance is a very stressful situation and can lead to aggression.

    Depending on the temperment of your dogs and how the first meeting went, you may want to keep your dogs completely seperated (not able to see or interact at all) for a few days. This is a judgement call you have to make. While a crated dog can't be harmed by other dogs, you don't want to cause undue stress to any of them and you want to minimize any opportunity they have to antagonize each other, otherwise they will begin to see each other as enemies.

    Once you have your dogs in the same room (one crated), rotate them. Make sure you use TWO seperate crates for this as dogs regard their crate as their den and it will upset them to see another dog using their den. Each dog should have its own crate and you should not switch which dog goes in which crate at any point.

    If your dogs are clicker trained, click and reward them for calm behaviour. If they display excessive aggression, redirection works better than harsh punishments as you want to promote calmness and reduce anxiety. The idea is to get the dogs to think that having the other around is no big deal. Sometimes light corrections can be helpful if the dog outside the crate is pestering the one in the crate. A simple "ah ah!" or "leave it" should do fine.

    When the dogs seem used to each other's presence and everyone seems relaxed and happy, they can be in the same room together, uncrated. Remove all toys, food, or any other valuable items so they will have nothing to fight over. If they are clicker trained, clicking and rewarding for calm behaviour helps to reinforce positive associations with the other dog, although be careful about giving out treats in the beginning - you may not be able to do this at first if one dog gets jealous of the other and starts a fight. You will have to make this judgement call.

    Don't leave the dogs alone together until you are absolutely positive there will be no fights. The most serious fight that my dogs ever got into was while I was in the shower and I hadn't thought to seperate them. No one was seriously hurt, just a small knick on the leg for one and some bruises for both, but it could have been worse. In fact, you may never leave the dogs alone together. That's fine. Keep them crated or otherwise seperated when you are not home. Even if you think they will get along when you're not there, this is the safest way to go. It's your judgement call in the end, though, and you may want to leave them alone together eventually, but not at first.

    Meal times are a good learning tool in getting dogs to get along with each other. I feel that eating together is a pack activity and that seeing the leader (you) feeding the new dog shows them that you deem them worthy to eat with the pack. Also, expecting them to behave respectfully at meal time shows them that no fighting or bickering is allowed. Give them their food in the same room and let them know that they are expected to be calm, ignore the other dog, and simply finish their food without causing a fuss. In the beginning, the dogs may need to be crated for this, but if they seem to be getting along okay and you feel you have control over the situation, you can try them uncrated.  Your call.  Place their food bowls far enough away to avoid the temptation to pester the other dog while its eating.

    Being a trusted and respected leader is so essential to introducing new dogs to the pack. If you are not in control, then someone else will step up and try to run things. It's important that your dogs know that you are in control and that you are fair and consistent. You need a good relationship of love and respect with each of your dogs. Having a good leader will keep everyone calm and less anxious. If you are unpredictable, harsh, or simply have no control over your dogs, the uncertainty will cause contention.  This is also why bonding with the new dog is paramount.

    Also bare in mind that any new dog entering a pack starts out at the bottom of the totem poll. You should keep this in mind and be aware that the dog at the bottom will drink from the water dish last, get last choice of bones to chew, and will be last in line to get affection from you. That being said, I don't think it's fair or wise to allow one dog to constantly bully the other. After all, you are the leader and you decide who fights when and over what. If you want to give the new dog lots of attention, it's not up to another dog to come and tell you that you have to give THEM the attention instead. Same applies to treats, toys, and any other resource.

    When my dogs start to bicker, I have no problem telling them to knock it off. In the beginning, I was afraid of doing this because I had always been told to let dogs sort things out themselves and to always defer to the dominant dog. In my experience, this just leads to uncertainty and chaos. Your dogs expect you to protect them and that may mean protecting them from each other. They also expect guidance. It's okay if the dogs have an order to things, for example if one gets first pick of the toys or always gets to drink from the water bowl first, or if one always has to move out of the other's way. Those types of things should be respected, but abuse or harassment is something completely different. For example, Rakka used to pester Tojo and antagonize him long after he had submitted to her and showed his lack of interest. This was not appropriate behaviour as she should have left him alone after he submitted to her and it sometimes let to a fight. I started to tell Rakka to "leave it" when she began to pester Tojo and things were much better after that.
    -Heidi, with Rakka (shikoku) and Sosuke (kai ken)
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 2242

    Just made this sticky because I'm sure we will want to keep it visible... I will also have some stuff to add to this, but right now, unfortunately, I am way to busy - I have like 5 projects launching this month.

    BTW, Heidi, this looks great! Thanx for taking the lead - great idea for an article!

  • Wow Heidi. Very very nice! I just learned a lot.

    I don't have much to add since I'm still learning about this as I go. The only thing I did differently that you didn't mention was make sure to get my existing dog as tired as possible prior to the introduction. I don't know if it made much of a difference, but I do know that Lucy's introduction to Joey was essentially a non-event. Of course if you are rescuing or adopting an older dog, it may be more difficult to make sure they are tired as well.

    Once again, awesome job! 

  • ddowdemersddowdemers
    Posts: 670

    Excellent, Heidi.  Very helpfulLaughing

  • Wonderful article!

    I think it is important for the "exisiting dog" to get to know the "new dog" scent. So I would recommend putting a towl, toy, pillow or whatever (won't get destroyed) totally soiled with the "new dog" scent in with the "existing dog". So when you finally do introduce them, it wouldn't come as a surprise, but something seeming familar. If your "new dog" is a puppy, chances are she or he will adjust right away to the "existing dog"...try to contain his or her excitement! It can be overwhelming at times.

    If the "new dog" is an older dog, I would also recommend doing the "scent imprinting" soiled with the "existing dog" scent. Every "pre-introduction" bit helps!

    Thanks Heidi!

    - Corina A. Gonzalez | Lynxiene (Belgian Malinois), Shoushuu, Kotomi & Shuran (Shikoku Ken). | Along with a Clan of cats!
  • tsukitsunetsukitsune
    Posts: 6468
    this is a very helpful article!  i will need to have my husband
    read it soon - we're getting a foster shiba in about 2 weeks.
  • tsukitsunetsukitsune
    Posts: 6468

    I have to add to this: I just got REALLY good advice about the 'fights' (which are not acutally fights, just loud, dramatic displays of boundaries crossed) between my resident male and my foster male (both neutered)

    here's the link:

    A must read if you are doing any difficult introductions!!!!!

  • TeamLaikaTeamLaika
    Posts: 188
    Good info here and I have implemented a similar system.
    One aspect I would caution against is the introduction through a fence. While this might work out fine for some, other dogs possess a great deal of barrier frustration and the presence of a new dog on the other side of the fence will spark quite a reaction. I always cringe as I worry about broken teeth or paws getting sliced up in the chain link.

    When I introduced Triepak last year, I did the following: Keep in mind, my males are intact, mature RELs.
    Triepak was taken outside on leash for a pee after the car-ride from airport. Tuli and Guska were permitted to check out his crate when I took it in the house. They could not see him at this point. Introductions were made one at a time on leash OUTSIDE in neutral territory since I did not have the luxury of a securely fenced enclosure. Started with Tuli (girl factor). Guska was much more assertive than I anticipated. There was posturing, huffing, and growling...but I made sure there was no tension on either leash and they diffused. (My husband had Guska) Both boys decided a 'pissing contest' on nearby shrubbery could settle the matter. :)
    We took a walk in the neighborhood for about 40 minutes (more peeing) and then all entered the house together. The new dog (invader!) was always in his crate or with me on a leash in the house for 10-14 days. All toys were removed from the scene when he was out. All dogs are fed in their individual crates, but I often leave the crate doors open.

    After 10 days or so, I let him have more freedom but left a leash on him to drag. He was permitted in the bedroom to sleep with everyone else. (Mine sleep in our room, but not in the bed. They get too hot!) Walks were always a group affair and I started distributing chewies and toys. There was one scuffle with Tuli regarding who was to be the "keeper of the squeaky piggy". This was exacerbated by a narrow hallway, but was mostly noise and bluster. As expected, Triepak decided that Tuli could indeed remain the keeper of the piggy! He's a clever one, I must say. Guska took a few more thrashings from her to figure that lesson out when he first showed up!

    When we were gone, the dogs were crated or left loose but in separate rooms. I then progressed to taking brief absences with them all loose in the house. Overall, things went very smoothly. In general, I've found the males are more laid back unless there's a girl in heat. The females are another story...I would have many more troubles integrating another female. Only one word for Tuli and it starts with 'B'!

    We enjoyed 14 months of peaceful cohabitation and this past June, the boys had a pretty good fight. I believe this was started by Tuli being snarky about a cooler I had stupidly left in the hallway (Read: totally preventable episode). It was empty but it had contained their food while they had to be boarded. It was just plunked there waiting for me to take it downstairs...So anyway, Tuli snarked at Guska who got defensive and they all were piled up in the narrow hallway by the front door. Highly combustible! I was able to drag Tuli out but the boys were determined to finish. They ended up sporting shaved sections, sutures and the ever-fashionable penrose drain tubes. But, they really don't hold grudges so after 4 days of sort of skirting around each other and giving funny looks, they were completely back to normal and I left them together throughout.

    One interesting thing I have noticed, is when I depart with just ONE Laika, upon my return, the others will sometimes act as if they haven't seen him/her before. There may be some grumping and growling and posturing. It's as if they have to sort everything out again. But, if we all come and go together, it is no big deal.
  • Your mention of the cooler was a big flashback for me. The last real scuffle I had in the house was between Piglet (my Pit Bull) and Moto (my Shiba) I stupidly thought I could keep a tub of dry food in the kitchen. Moto got to sniffing and cut in front of Piggy. I remember saying "wow Piggy never shows her tee..." BOOM scuffle I jump in grab mommies little monsters and both missed dinner that night for a good long time out. Little Punks.
  • Interesting, Luna (our female shiba) also has control of all toys, we are lucky that Sol desn't care to much about it; BUT on ocassion Sol does decide he wan'ts to play with a toy for a while, one that Luna isnt using, and he takes it and start having a fun time with it. Luna will try to take it from him, but Sol stands his ground, in fact he will walk around with it all day and even sleep next to it just to upset her more....I dont think he really cares about the toy at all , but just does this to stir up a reaction from Luna.
  • Interesting I will keep you updated on progress, for now we are keeping a close eye, and semi seperated, but no inside playing yet (the last scuffle was extremely scarey)
  • I was thinking that this thread might be useful for people to see, as it had disappeared from sight for quite awhile, and I also thought it might be useful to have some links to other threads about this topic in one place.

    So there are also these threads on the topic:

    And now questions: what would you do differently with introducing a puppy to adult dogs?

    Introducing our Akita pup to the Shibas was pretty straight forward. We brought him home in his crate, let Bel sniff him through the crate, and then let him out, and watched her like a hawk (and she was leashed), but it was clear that she was fine with the puppy (as we had expected). After that, we had supervised interactions, and of course fed them separately, and he slept upstairs in his crate and she was downstairs, but it all went pretty smoothly, and now they're pretty good buds.

    What did not go smoothly was the Toby intro: We tried with the puppy in the crate. Toby snarled and growled. We tried with Toby in the crate and the puppy out. Same thing. And then there was one incident with Toby loose and the puppy out (this was actually a mistake, not a planned intro) and at first Toby ignored the puppy, but as I was going to get the pup, he moved forward toward Toby who bit him on the nose! That was almost an epic disaster, because Bel heard the puppy cry and she was after Toby so fast it wasn't funny, but I saw her coming and had the presence of mind to close the door (which I'd forgotten to latch, and it had blown open--hence Toby and the pup meeting in the first place).

    We didn't try any more intros. after that. Toby and Oskar still hate each other.

    So now a new puppy is coming, and there are two dogs for him to meet and interact with (Bel and Oskar). Obviously, we'll have to be much more careful with the intros: not only just because there are two dogs, but because Oskar is so big, he could hurt a puppy without meaning to.

    I don't even know if it is worth trying to introduce the puppy to Toby or not, and if I did, what I should do differently. Toby pretty much hates all other dogs, so I'm not optimistic that he'd adjust to any dog, of any age. And of course, the puppy is a Kai Ken--known for long memories and strong reactions.

    Anyway, anyone have more thoughts on introducing puppies to a household?
  • NekopanNekopan
    Posts: 403
    I am definitely not an expert when it comes to multi-dog households and introductions... so take what I'm about to say with a generous helping of salt. :)

    From Toby's reaction to Oskar, I would be very weary of introducing him to your new pup. Sadly, it sounds like Toby just does not want anything to do with other dogs, puppy or not.

    For Bel and Oskar, if you can manage it, I would do puppy in a crate with the two of them loose, and then each of them individually in a crate with the puppy loose. Sounds like your Oskar intro went fine, so I doubt there would be any harm doing it that way again. Oskar is over 2 now and fine with other dogs, yes? Most dogs, even large breeds, are very mindful of puppies and do their best not to hurt them. Of course, it is wise to supervise any interactions until you're 100% sure they can be trusted together.
  • Yeah, Oskar's ok with polite dogs, and I think he'll be fine with a puppy, but we do have to watch him, since he could inadvertantly hurt a a puppy--like most NKs, he plays with his paws a lot, and I've seen him slap Bel (adult Shiba) harder than I like, so I don't like the idea he might slap his giant paw on a pup. But we'll watch for that.

    I'm not optimistic about Toby and a pup though. :(
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4786
    "Common sense isn't so common"
    photo c5d87957-61b6-48af-a440-4187cbfc861b_zps88ccdf88.jpg
  • Bump
  • redcattooredcattoo
    Posts: 1960
    Don't forget there is another thread too on Multiple Dog Household - Handling Play, training, and bonding ....
  • @redcattoo - there are like a million threads about this. I think the one to which you link is great for household integration post-introduction.
  • redcattooredcattoo
    Posts: 1960
    @violet_in_seville I linked it because it is the thread I started when I first introduced for the very first time a 2nd dog into my household. It kind of shows the journey of my progression handling it which is why I wanted to add that link to this thread that I hadn't seen when I had first needed the information this past February 2013.
  • thanks for the advice. we just got a shiba inu puppy this past saturday and our old dog, Duke (who is half german shepherd and half blood hound) is a bit agressive towards our new pup. Duke is an old soul who is a nice and timid dog, but recently he lunged at our shiba and bit him (but no injury was caused). There are rare times in which he is nice to our pup, but our goal is to let them become friends (or atleast neutral for now). Our shiba pup somehow adores Duke, but Duke doens't reciprocate back. We will try your advice and see how it goes!
  • My 5 month old Shiba Lambeau is very good with other dogs at the dog park, at other peoples houses...etc. But today we decided to bring a friends male puppy over and Lambeau was trying to bite him and he was very territorial. After I read this discussion I realized we introduced them wrong. I had no idea he was going to act that way because he is such a friendly dog. If you keep introducing new dogs the way it says in the discussion at Lambeau's home, will his aggressive behavior get better? I am scared for the next dog who decides to visit. Lambeau shows no aggression towards little kids that come to his house, just this one English Bulldog puppy so far.
  • Bumping this because I came across a good article from Stanley Coren on the aggression within the household. Brad (forum owner) had posted it, and said it bore out his experiences with insecure dogs causing problems. It also is true to my experience in many ways, where the young female, with fear issues, was the aggressor in the household (and nearly killed my male Shiba). There is a lot of good information here on statistics of which dog is more likely to cause problems (and guess what: intact males are NOT the problem). good information to have when thinking about managing a multi-dog household:

    Also, links to a couple of other threads on the topic:

    And an older thread with a good discussion:
    Post edited by shibamistress at 2014-04-27 17:22:06
  • catloreecatloree
    Posts: 1541
    This seems like the most relevant thread for my question. We're bringing home a Pomeranian puppy in 2 weeks. I'm flying to Utah to pick the puppy up and then flying home the next day with the puppy in the cabin. We'll be landing around noon and bringing the puppy home to meet the rest of our pack (a 5-year-old Shiba and a 9-year-old Pomeranian; the puppy is actually our Pomeranian's great-great niece) that afternoon.

    We didn't have any issues introducing Elwood (Shiba) and Sadie (Pomeranian) back when we brought Elwood home 5 years ago. The thing I'm worried about this time is the size difference between Elwood (who weighs 35 lbs) and the new puppy (who will be around 2 lbs when she comes home). Elwood, in general, gets along great with other dogs. He is very gentle with Sadie, and he plays nicely with my mom's Yorkie. So he certainly has small dog experience. I'm not at all worried about him intentionally hurting the puppy. I'm mostly concerned because he's a bit clumsy and loves to play using his paws.

    Does anyone have any advice specifically for how to handle the introduction between a Shiba and a much smaller puppy? How long should I keep them separated once the puppy is home? Any other tips?
    Catherine (human), Elwood (Shiba), & Sadie (Pomeranian)

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