The Pack Order

1. Pick up all toys, chew bones and bedding from the area where the dogs will meet for the first time.
2. Stow all food and food dishes in a closet or other out-of-reach place so they're not on the floor.
3. If you use crates for your dogs, close the door to their room(s). Remember, crates are your dog's dens, their place to get away from it all, and they can be very protective of them.
4. Have all dogs on lead, new and old.

Some people prefer to introduce new dogs on neutral territory. If possible, I recommend this practice; however, if you're introducing a new dog into your home, be aware that your other dogs generally do not think a competitor for your affection is a welcome addition. They haven't been looking for a roommate.
Your old dogs are only exhibiting instinctive caution when they look suspiciously at a new dog. This is normal canine behavior. The owner must handle this tense situation correctly in order to see that the new dog fits in safely and happily. Do not assume too much; do not depend on your old dogs to do the correct thing. Instinctive canine behavior has been masked and modified by the domestic dogs long association and bonding with humans, but it's still present within the dog. And if the situation arises, a dog can act purely instinctively.

The new dog you bring into your home has the basic instinct to trust you. A dogs association with strange humans is far less traumatic than with strange dogs because it's part of a domesticated dogs nature to depend on humans. It fears the other dogs and needs to learn its place in the hierarchy of the new dog pack. Humans are usually more easily dealt with; the other dogs are its biggest threat.
An older dog may feel trapped and will snap and growl in response, even while maintaining a submissive posture toward the other dogs. This behavior electrifies all the dogs, and this is why you need leads and handlers for each dog when introducing them to one another. It is grossly unfair to introduce a new dog to several old-timers all at once. A one-on-one introduction...one new dog, with one old dog... is fair and proper. Do not lead a new dog through a group of dogs, even if you know they will not hurt it. The new dog doesn't know that the other dogs won't harm it. Remember, this dog depends on you for psychological support and physical protection. It trust you and fears the other dogs. Thoughtless introductions of any kind can upset the balance of your group and cause problems that will take a lot of effort to resolve. Far better to avoid problems than to create them and then have to spend time solving them.

Many problems may be caused by carelessness in the original introductions. A poor start could develop instant hostilities that are difficult to correct between dogs. Think of it like getting off on the wrong foot with a new neighbor.

The pay-off for using common dog sense when dealing with a new dog in a new home is long-lasting and beneficial. You obviously need to be kind to a new dog and keep its mental and physical well-being paramount in your mind. For example, never kennel a new dog between two dogs that act aggressively towards it. Never feed dogs in groups unless you are there to supervise; feed them in individual crates or runs. When in group play, do not show favorites; give each dog its due attention.

With a well-thought-out means of assimilation, your old dogs and your new dog will adjust well to each other's company. The kindness and thoughtfulness that you show your new dog during its stressful transition in its new home will strengthen the bonding process between your new dog and you. The peaceable kingdom is a lovely dream, and maybe, with a lot of planning, it will come true for you!

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