Introducing a New Dog Into the Home



In an earlier blog post, we addressed choosing the right dog for your family and homestead and to be sure the potential new addition would also choose you, including the traits to look for when choosing the new family member. Assuming the choice has been made and the rescue dog and new family are compatible, what comes next? It is time to bring the new family member into the home but it is best to be prepared ahead of time. Before you bring the dog home, it will need its own food bowl, water dish, leash, collar or harness, and a bed to sleep on that will be its own.

Create a safe area. If you have a fenced backyard, it should be inspected to make sure there are no gaps the dog can get out through. It should be high enough so the dog can’t jump the fence. You also want it high enough so other animals can’t jump into your yard. Our fence is 6’ high specifically to keep predators out. The home should also be made dog proof and safe for the new addition.

Predators come in all forms. We walk our dogs on a 6’ leash to be sure they are safely close to us. In our 23 years here in the mountains, we have not had a serious close encounter in spite of the fact we have numerous predators around. When we see a predator, we cautiously head the other way to avoid conflict. Incidentally, bears mostly graze on the wild grasses we have and the cats have abundant deer and elk so they are not attracted by a human walking large dogs. From our experience, there are more predators in and around more populated areas than found in remote living. We have found wild animals to actually be far more respectful than many of the two legged variety.

Go for the first walk. When it is time to actually bring the new canine member home, it is a good idea to take this new member for a walk first to allow them to expel some of that pent up energy. If they will be joining other canine family members they should be introduced away from the home one at a time. Having two or three other dogs greet the new member can throw that new dog into a full panic. Even though they may have met at the rescue or shelter and done well, it can be totally different when they are thrust into a new home environment.

Introduce the "pack" one member at a time. This method has worked for us for many years. The way we introduce the new dog into our pack is at a distance of roughly 100 yards from the cabin. We bring the current dogs one at a time to meet the new member. We watch carefully for any sign of aggression/dominance and if there is any, we quickly separate the dogs and let them try again once they have calmed down. When they have all met, and it goes well, we then take the new family member and our other dogs for a short walk together and bring them back home together.

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