How To Introduce A New Dog To An Established Pack

It’s becoming more and more popular today for families to have multiple dogs.  Even if you already have several dogs, you may be thinking of adding a new dog to your family.  Perhaps you aren’t sure that a new dog will get along with your existing pack of dogs?  Here are some tips on things to consider when getting a new dog and how to introduce the dog to your existing pack.

Considerations about getting a new dog

Before you get a new dog there are a number of things you should consider ahead of time.  Planning ahead will make the introduction to your existing pack go more smoothly.

1.    Where should the initial introduction take place? Your current dogs already consider your home to be “their” territory.  For this reason, it’s not a good idea to introduce a new dog to the pack in your home.  Instead, make the initial introduction in a neutral area such as a friend’s or neighbor’s yard or a dog park.  Your current dogs won’t feel territorial in these places and the new dog will be more relaxed.

2.    Should you start with a pup or a mature dog? Your established pack will probably accept a puppy or young dog more easily than a mature dog, but this can vary depending on the dogs you have.  Puppies can be exuberant so if some of your current dogs are elderly a puppy may annoy them.  In this case, a mature dog may be a better choice as long as he or she has a calm, pleasant temperament.  If you have several young dogs, then they may enjoy having a new puppy added to the home.

3.    If you select a mature dog, will a dog from the shelter be a good choice? It depends.  Some mature dogs from shelters can make good pets, but some adult dogs from shelters can have some emotional baggage.  You don’t always know why a dog was turned into the shelter and you may not get an honest answer if you ask about it.  Some dogs are there because they have simple behavior problems that are easy to fix.  Maybe they were hard to housetrain or they jump up on people.  Some dogs were just unwanted.  But other dogs can have more difficult problems.  You can find a good dog at the shelter but you should spend some time with the dog and try to find out as much as you can about his history, especially how he gets along with other dogs.

4.    Does sex matter? Sex does matter, depending on your current dogs.  Breed can matter, too.  For example, with some breeds, you can keep several males together and they are quite happy together.  Or, you can keep several females together and they will get along well.  But in other breeds, several males together will not get along; and several females may not get along.  Sometimes a dominant female may prefer to have males in the household with her.  Or a dominant male may prefer to have females in the home.  Try to assess your current dogs and how they get along together before you bring in a new dog so you can choose a dog of the right sex.  Of course, in some cases it doesn’t matter.  Some dogs are very laid back and they will accept any dog you bring home.  But it’s better to try to achieve a good fit if it matters to your dogs.

5.    What do you need to know about food, treats, and toys for the new pack member? It’s usually a good idea to continue to feed the new dog the same food he has been used to eating at first.  You can gradually change his diet until he is eating the same food as your other dogs, unless the dog has some special dietary needs.  The same goes for the treats you feed him.  Make sure you provide your dogs with plenty of extra toys when you introduce a new pack member.  This will help reduce any jealousy and keep the dogs from fighting over toys.

A new dog can be a wonderful addition to your household and pack.  Consider these ideas to decide which dog would be best for you, your family and your pack.

Don’t be shy, please leave a comment below and tell us about any problems you have experienced introducing a new dog to your pack.

Until next time……

About the Author: Wayne Booth is owner of Canine Behavior Specialists in Nashville, TN.  Wayne has been teaching people how to become Professional Dog Trainers since 1990 and he is the Training Director of Canine Behavior Specialists Network,


  1. Lynn says

    We adopted a new dog that was pound bound. He is a shephard-Rott mix, around 4-5 years old, and is basically a very loving dog. However, in the past few weeks since he arrived, he has attacked our Beagle twice – once over a food dish infraction and the other over a jealous moment. He also is relentless in trying to hump our 8 year old Boxer-Chow mix. He plays well with both dogs, but when it comes to the food dish or petting, he becomes enraged and we are at wits end as to what we can do for him. All 3 dogs have their own bowls of food and water, but he eats from any dish he wishes and the other dogs now wait. He also attacked our cat and now she has been gone for 2 days. I hate to give up on him because he is a gentle soul, but I am scared to leave him alone with the other dogs without being placed in the mud room. What would you suggesst our next move be? Thank you for your comments!

  2. Wayne Booth says

    Maybe this is the reason he was pound bound ! You really need to get with a good trainer and get this guy trained. It appears that in this short time he has taken over as the alpha in your home. Some good training will put him where he is supposed to be.

    I deal with this issue almost on a daily basis and it can be fixed a lot of the time. Please start feeding him away from the other dog so that we don’t have a big fight with people and dogs going to the hospital.

  3. Dee Moore says

    We have 3 females in our existing pack (rat terrier 14 yrs, miniture pinchuer 13 yrs, and a 4 months old Staffie, and due to a tragic death of a dear friend that runs a Pit bull rescue we are adding an adult18 mo-2yrs) what advice do you offer for introductions ect. he is a very sweet but HUGE boy, that has been fostered with 3 chihuhuas and a cat….he loved the dogs hated the cat….Our Old girls are just getting use to the new baby, she has been with us a month, I just dont want this to be too traumatic for them.

  4. Wayne Booth, the Dog Training Blogger says

    It is always just a guess whether the new dog will get along with the existing pack. I don’t know enough about either to make an educated guess.

    It sounds like your existing dogs are a lot smaller. Good luck!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *