By Mallory Kerley
To celebrate the newest resident of the White House, the ASPCA is offering some guidelines that the first family, and all dog owners, can follow to ensure that this transition goes smoothly for both the humans and canines at home.
The First Family is officially part of the ‘double dog’ club, bringing home the adorable Sunny to be Bo’s little sister! They are in good company – there are approximately 78 million owned dogs in the United States, and 25 percent of dog owners have two pups at home. While adding a new four-legged family member to your pack will provide endless fun and companionship, the first minutes of meeting and weeks of living together can be a bit of a challenge.
- Leave your current dog at home when you pick up your new dog. One of the worst things you can do is to just throw the two of them together in your car and hope for the best!
- Introduce your dogs on neutral territory, like on a short walk through your neighborhood, in a nearby park or in a friend’s yard.
- Don’t force any interaction between the dogs. If the dogs ignore each other at first, or if one dog seems reluctant to interact with the other, that’s okay. Give both dogs time to get comfortable. They’ll interact when they’re ready. Make the introduction positive and light-hearted.
- Once the dogs appear to be tolerating each other without fearful or threatening behavior, you’re ready to take them home. Before you take them inside, walk them together around your house or apartment building.
- Be patient. Bringing a new dog home requires that everyone make some adjustments, especially your current pets. And it will take time for your dogs to build a comfortable relationship.
The First Couple of Weeks at Home
- It’s crucial to avoid squabbles during the early stages of your dogs’ new relationship. Pick up all toys, chews, food bowls and your current dog’s favorite items. When dogs are first forming a relationship, these things can cause rivalry. These items can be reintroduced after a couple of weeks, once the dogs have started to develop a good relationship.
- Give each dog his own water and food bowls, bed and toys. For the first few weeks, only give the dogs toys or chews when they’re separated in their crates or confinement areas.
- Feed the dogs in completely separate areas. Pick up bowls when feeding time is over. (Some dogs will compete over bowls that recently contained food.)
- Be sure to sincerely praise your dogs when they are interacting nicely.
- Spend time individually with each dog. Give each of them training time with you and playtime with other dogs outside your home.
If your dogs are very different in age or energy level, be sure to give the older or less energetic one his own private space where he can enjoy rest and down time.
For more dog care tips, visit the ASPCA online: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care