I Was Here First! The Key to Bringing Home a New Dog

I Was Here First! The Key to Bringing Home a New Dog

Introducing resident dogs to new dogs


After adoption, one of the most difficult barriers to a successful home placement is how well the adopted animal interacts with existing resident animals. Sadly, this is also the reason for the majority of animal returns or surrenders. Whether it be same species or different species, it is crucial to set up your animals for success through proper introductions. The first 7 days are critical in setting up a harmonious home.


In part three of our three part series, we will be discussing introducing resident dogs and newly adopted dogs.


Meet on neutral ground

Dogs can be territorial when a new dog comes to their home turf. Select a local park, tennis court, a neighbors yard, or other location that neither dog would regularly frequent for the first few steps.


  1. Take both dogs on a leashed walk, about 10 feet apart. Distance will help both dogs acclimate to each other without greetings or stare downs.
  2. Then, allow the dogs to meet each other face to face with their leashes dragging. This way they are able to still complete greetings with ample space, while also allowing a leash “tail” in case tensions escalate.
  3. Wait a few minutes then call each dog to different sections of the area. If they begin to play, let them play for 5-10 minutes, then leave separately.


Meet at home

  1. Have both dogs meet in the yard and complete their introductions.
  2. Bring the adopted dog inside and leave the resident dog outside in the yard. Allow the adopted dog to sniff around the house to get their bearings.
  3. Bring the resident dog inside the home, keep time together short and pleasant. If any defensive or negative body language is apparent, separate immediately and try again later. A resource on understanding body language can be found here.
  4. Gradually increase time spent together over the course of upcoming days and weeks.


While you are away from home

Keep both dogs in a kennel in different rooms, if possible. As your dogs become more accustomed to each other and house rules, you may choose to let them “free roam” in the home outside of their crate.



Remember introductions should be slow and methodical, and repeated over the period of several days to several weeks. Although at times tedious, this routine is important to set the stage for the dog’s relationship with each other.

As part of the Pet Haven Promise we assist potential adopters before and after adoption to help with successful transitions. The work we do to create Forever Families  is so valuable to us and we recognize the importance of support and tools for success! Consider adopting from Pet Haven for your new family member! Thank you to our Volunteer Coordinator and Cat/Dog Foster Lauren Rauchwarter for the informative post!