Introducing Your New Dog to Your Resident Dog

We recommend introducing your dogs on a side-by-side walk in neutral territory. Start about 10 feet apart and walk parallel to each other. If the dogs are relaxed and comfortable, move closer gradually. Be sure to allow to stop and greet periodically for a few seconds at a time. Always use a happy voice and keep the leashes loose. Continue walking until the dogs are calmer. If you have a yar, allow them to greet and interact in it. If it’s a safely fenced area, drop their leashes so they can interact more freely.

Once you have established a calm introduction, take them inside your house. Before taking the dogs inside together, pick up any food, high value treats, or chews.

  • Take the new dog inside on leash and let them sniff and check out their new home.
  • Bring the resident dog inside, reward both dogs with treats for calm behavior.
  • If one dog is more excited, leave their leash attached and hold it or let them drag it. You may choose to have them on a drag line for several more days.


  • Separate the dogs when you are unable to directly supervise them.
  • Reward calm behavior.
  • Continue going for leashed walks together
  • Do not rush this process and do not hesitate to take a step back if any of the dogs is showing stress signals or being overwhelmed by the interactions with the other dog. 
  • If any conflict arises, separate the dogs for a day at least before attempting to get them together again

Additional considerations for dogs where there is a large size difference

Big Dog, Little Dog: Size Differences

When adding a dog to your family that is significantly smaller or larger than your other dog, there are a few precautions to consider. Because the small dog is at higher risk of injury if things go wrong, we highly recommend that they are only off leash together when you can directly supervise, and that they are kept separated when left alone.

Rough Play

Most dogs will engage in “self-handicapping,” which is where they adjust their play style to the dog they are playing with. This can be seen with adult dogs and puppies, confident dogs with fearful dogs, and large dogs with small dogs.

However, for dogs that don’t adjust their play style or who just have poor timing, there can be a risk of mild to serious injury to small dogs during play. Monitor play closely and provide “safe zones” for the small dog to escape to if they get overwhelmed. While adjusting, it can be helpful to leave a “drag line” on the larger dog to allow you to quickly intervene if play starts to get more intense or if the larger dog Is not responding to the small dog’s warning signals


Dogs can get into disagreements from time to time and sometimes those disagreements can escalate to more serious fights. Regardless of who instigates the fight, if there is a significant size difference, the smaller dog is more likely to get injured.

Prey “Drive”

Most dogs have some level of instinct that motivates them to chase small animals like squirrels and rabbits (which is often referred to as “chase drive” or “prey drive”). Some breeds and individuals within those breeds have an even higher level of “drive,” which is seen as intense fixation, pulling, lunging at, and even catching small animals.

While not common, this instinct can be triggered by fast movements or high-pitched sounds (like yelping) in small dogs. A predatory reaction is silent and very fast, with little to no warning. Extra care should be taken if the small dog is prone to “zoomies” (fast running around the yard or house).

Need help? Just ask! These tips are just scratching the surface when it comes to introducing pets and sometimes you need additional help. Our staff can offer advice and also recommend professional animal behaviorists depending on the issue you’re encountering with your own pets.