Tips for Welcoming a Third Dog Into Your Home

When my 19-year-old son brought home an 8-week-old Siberian husky, our orderly duo of lap dogs became a riotous pack of three. The husky, newly named Chichi, was all leg and energy. She flew through the air—literally, flew—landing on chairs, slip-sliding on floors, searching all day for someone or something to play with.

Our others dogs, however, were not amused. Betty, our 6-year-old shih tzu mix, wanted nothing to do with the newcomer, hovering and growling whenever the pup bounded over and poked her with a paw that grew daily.

Rosie, our half-blind, 11-year-old bichon frise, was more game. Rosie and Chichi would wrestle for hours, gnawing at each other, grabbing the same toys, fighting for space on my lap. Even today, when Chichi is 7 months and 35 pounds, the two spend most of the day in each others’ company.

But sometimes the play turns dark, especially when a bone or treat are involved. Once, I came running when Rosie yelped—I found her on her back beneath Chichi, who has begun challenging Rosie for the top dog slot in our home. Concerned, I talked to our veterinarian, who said huskies can be on the wild side, like the wolves from which they are descended, and treat small dogs like prey.

These days, I don’t leave Chichi alone and unsupervised with the smaller dogs, who she sometimes looks at like chew toys.

How to Introduce a New Dog to the Pack

Dogs form their own society with you and with each other. Status within the group changes as dogs mature and age. This “dominance hierarchy” establishes order and promotes cooperation among members, who soon learn their place in the canine order.

Here are actions you can take to help a newcomer transition smoothly into its new pack.

  • Introduce the dogs one at a time, so that the pack doesn’t gang up on the newcomer.
  • Introduce the dogs on neutral territory that’s unfamiliar to all members of the pack, like a neighbor’s yard. That way, the dogs will be less likely to view each other as territorial intruders.
  • Keep each dog on a leash with a separate handler during introductions. If a ruckus erupts, handlers can separate the dogs, let them cool off, and try again.
  • Use a calm, happy voice when introducing dogs for the first time. Let them briefly sniff each other, then issue an easy command like sit, and reward their attentive compliance with a treat. Do that often during the first visit, so the dogs begin associating the new pack member with pleasant things.
  • Beware of aggressive body posture. If one of the dogs bares teeth, growls or stares for long time, then bad things are likely to happen. Interrupt the negative energy immediately by distracting the dogs with commands followed by treats. Then, try again, but for a shorter time.

Introducing a Puppy to Adult Dogs

From an adult dog’s perspective, a puppy is a pain in the neck. They bounce, play-attack, gnaw at everything that doesn’t move and generally interrupt day-long naps. Adult dogs with even tempers set firm boundaries for the pup with a warning growl or snarl. However, adults with less patience can become aggressive and bite an annoying puppy.

Unless you’re sure about the puppy’s safety, never leave him alone with older, bigger dogs. And be sure to give your older pets some special attention and alone time away from the pup, which will give them a needed break.

Consult a Professional

If the pack isn’t getting along, seek professional help quickly. Animals can severely injure each other. And the longer the problem behavior persists, the harder it will be to change patterns. Talk to your veterinarian or an animal behaviorist, who will help you and your animal family resolve conflicts.

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68 comments

Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vaga5 months ago

thanks

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Past Member
Past Member 5 months ago

cute pic

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Stephanie s
Stephanie Y5 months ago

Thank you

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Stephanie s
Stephanie Y5 months ago

Thank you

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Linda Behnejad
Linda Behnejad2 years ago

Thanks for sharing

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Angela K.
Angela K2 years ago

Thank you

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Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen2 years ago

Thank you

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vicky T.
vicky T2 years ago

Now another article for cats!!! When I brought a fourth rescue (a hyperactive black kitten called Harry), my three other cats were NOT happy. I did try introducing him first to the most patient one, a true angel called Neo. Poor Neo felt himself restlessly kicked, bitten and scratched by tiny demonic Harry. It took all three adult cats to protect themselves from his vicious games. Took around three months for the hissing and growling to disappear!

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Manuela C.
Manuela C2 years ago

Thanks.

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