So, you brought a second dog to your home, but this new family member is having trouble getting along with your old dog.
If you’re concerned about how long it will take for the two dogs to get along, the transition period should only be around 14-21 days on average.
Below we will discuss ways you can help this transition along, common problems when introducing two dogs, and the types of dogs that can co-habitat easier than others.
Factors affecting how long it takes two dogs to adjust to each other
Age can be a significant factor in deciding the length of time it takes for two dogs to get used to each other. Dogs get set in their ways as they age.
They become familiar with everything around them and what time of day to expect things, such as food, walks, sleep, etc. Anything new can throw that off, and that’s particularly true for a new dog.
Older dogs are already distrustful of newcomers, and anything throwing off their routine doesn’t help.
The breed of a dog can play a factor in how well dogs get along. Very social dogs like Golden Retrievers, Labs, basset hounds, and many others can adapt quickly to a new dog.
There are breeds that make a tougher transition to getting along with a new dog. American Pit Bull terriers, Kerry Blue Terriers, German Pinschers, and others are breeds of dogs that have a reputation of not being easy to get along with other dogs.
There are always exceptions to every dog, and they will mostly take cues from their owner. It is important to remember that even the most social dogs need time to adapt.
When contemplating adding a new dog to their home, most dog owners think about what dog they would like to have. But in fact. the more important thing to consider is what dog would work best with the owner’s current dog.
This decision may be vital to the success of the two dogs getting along and how easily they make the transition.
Assess how your dog reacts in normal non-stress situations. Is your dog hyper and over-reactive, or are they calm and relaxed most of the time?
If they show hyperactive tendencies, it may take longer for your old dog and new dog to get used to each other.
If your dog is naturally calmer and doesn’t get spooked easily, that may make the transition process for both your old dog to adjust to the new dog.
History of training both new and old dogs can be important. This is vital when teaching the dogs boundaries and how well they accept that training.
What are the common problems encountered when introducing two dogs?
Many dog owners think their sweet older dog will automatically love the new companion in their life. This is not always the case, as dogs sometimes distrust newcomers.
Older dogs can become creatures of habit. They get used to daily activities around their home, with people they are comfortable with.
When a new dog comes into the home, this can disrupt your old dog’s daily routine and make them uncomfortable.
Here are some problems you may see when introducing a new dog to your home
Growling is not as bad as you think. Dogs will use this communicator to let other dogs know their boundaries. Setting boundaries is vital for both dogs to get along in their new home.
Barking can be a lot like growling. It is a vocal communicator for each dog. It lets each other know when they are uncomfortable. This cue is also useful for the owner to keep them aware of.
Pay attention to one dog being overly aggressive toward the other dog. Signs of this are when one dog doesn’t let the other have a breather when they are playing.
Also, heavy “mouthing” or “light biting” may become too aggressive if kept unchecked.
Fighting over food bowl
Being territorial over the area where the dogs eat can be one of the biggest problems you will face between a new dog and an old dog. Your older dog will be very protective over the area where they eat.
Placing the new dog’s food bowl in the same eating area can cause lashing out, in terms of biting or snapping at each other.
Pack order mentality
When two dogs are put in a new situation to live with each other, they will go through a process to establish pack order. This is a vetting process for each dog to figure out where they stand in the home.
Five ways to help your two dogs adjust to each other quicker
Show preference to your older dog.
It is important for your older dog to still know that their owner values them. Setting aside time for just one-on-one time with your older dog is important.
Take them for walks by themselves and occasionally play fetch without the new dog. Show them it is still their home as well.
Take part in activities together.
After you have given your older dog time to understand they are still a part of their home, slowly start to have both the old dog and new dog take part in activities together.
Keep a close eye on them, in the beginning to make sure they are acclimating well. Going for walks is an excellent way for the two to bond.
Playing catch with both can be fun for both, only if one dog isn’t too aggressive when playing.
Separate food and water bowls.
This is an important example of giving both dogs a chance for success. Don’t set your dogs up for failure by putting them in uncomfortable or conflict situations.
Eating is an extremely important time for dogs, and they need to know they have a designated area during meals.
Keeping food and water bowls separate makes both dogs relax and understand that this bowl of food is for them specifically.
Spend time apart from each other.
Another important way for both dogs to adjust to living together is giving each their own space. Just like when you first meet someone new, you don’t spend every waking second with that person.
You need your own space, and dogs are no different. This point is magnified when a new dog moves in.
Both dogs have to share a new environment with a completely new dog, and this takes time. As discussed earlier, setting your dogs up for success means giving them space to figure things out.
After spending time together, put them in different parts of the house and give them both some one-on-one attention. This will help both understand they are a part of the household.
Exclusive toys for each dog.
This is like giving your dogs their separate food bowls. A dog’s toy is their tiny claim to ownership. It can serve as an important emotional bond.
This type of bond can be sensitive, and seeing that special toy being “taken away” by another dog can lead to problems.
Letting your older dog have their original toys to themselves exclusively is important to them understanding that they haven’t lost their spot in the family.
Buying your new dog their own separate toys will not only keep them away from the older dog’s toys but give them their own feeling of ownership.
What to do if your dogs never adjust?
Bringing a new dog into your home to share with your existing dog is a bigger commitment than most realize. Keep in mind patience is the number one trait for making this transition.
It may take your dogs weeks or months to learn how to live with their new housemate.
Being aware and utilizing all the different ways to make your dogs comfortable during this period. Training may be an essential tool that is needed to get your two dogs to live with each other peacefully.
It is rare for most dogs to not be able to live peacefully with another dog. If owners have put in the correct time and raised both dogs correctly, they should come around.
Understanding the length of time and patience that is needed for this move is important to understand.
If months have gone by and both your dogs still can’t live peacefully with each other, it may be time to consider moving out your new dog.
This should be a last resort as it’s not fair for the new dog to bounce them to two new homes in a short period of time.
Professional training should be a necessary avenue to take before moving on from your new dog.
Lastly, through proper training, patience, and using techniques mentioned above, odds are the transition from a one-dog to two-dogs household should eventually work.