Introducing new pets

By Oluwatobiloba Onipede

Bringing your pet home to meet your resident pet or family member is an exciting experience. The introduction process is critical and should be treated as such. However, some pet parents may not prioritize conducting these introductions properly . The only way to do this right is by socialization. Ever wondered why some dogs are more pleasant and social than others? Or why some are like wallflowers while others thrive with company around? The short answer is socialization. Socialization involves introducing your dog to the people, pets, places, things, smells, and sights in the world. It’s one of the most important things you can do for your dog as it equips them with the behavioural skills that encourage positive interactions between themselves and family members. Here’s how you can introduce your dogs to each other and your family members.

Importance of pet socialization

Pet socialization is critical for fostering positive relationships between pets and humans, and all pets need socialization for a happy and healthy life. It’s usually advised to start early, preferably within the pup’s first three months, to get a head start on that happiness. However, most breeds are teachable, regardless of their ages or experiences. Here’s why your puppy needs socialization.

Social Skills

A properly-socialized dog is well-adjusted and not easily frightened by people or places. Such dogs do not display aggression when placed in unfamiliar environments. By introducing your new rescue to your old dog or a new puppy to an older dog, you’re equipping them with the necessary social skills they need to be the best version of themselves. Pet socialization involves everything from pet-to-pet introductions to family meets and greets and familiarizing them with objects within and outside the house. This way, they won’t get rattled if another pet comes around them or they come in contact with a foreign object.

Coping Skills

Let’s face it, you’re not always going to be around your pet, and socialization equips them with the coping skills they need to be good pets even when you’re not around. While some breeds, like the Labrador Retriever or the Jack Russell Terrier, have separation anxiety , which can make them act out when their owner isn’t around, socialization helps them adapt to different environments, smells, scenarios, and people easily. Thus, it helps keep their inherent anxieties in check.

Best ways to introduce your dog to the family

Think of introducing your dog to the family as a journey, not a race. You’re familiarizing your dog with the people they will mostly be interacting with. So, taking things slow is best, so you don’t overwhelm or spook your dog. Introducing your new dog to your family is a transition, and a calm approach should be applied. Don’t go throwing a ‘meet the family’ party and rattle your new dog. Here’s the best way to introduce your new dog to family and friends.

Start young

To ease the transition, you should start immediately. If your new dog is a puppy, it’s best to start within the first three months. However, you can start once you get him if it’s a rescue.

One-by-one introductions

Don’t introduce your new dog to more than one person at a time, as it may spook them. Allow them to meet and get comfortable around one person before bringing out the next.

Monitor their body language.

During this introduction, the dog should approach the family member first. You can place a treat in the family member’s hand to achieve this. However, you should always monitor the dog’s body language with the family members. This will help future interactions. Also, keep a close eye on your new pet around children, babies, and toddlers, as they can be rough.

When to introduce your new dog to family members

Timing is important for fostering positive interactions between your dog and family members. It’s often best to introduce family members to new pets when they’re trained. So, you might want to train your dog before introducing them to the family. The age of the dog and the amount of training they have might influence the socialization experience. It’s advised to socialize your pet between 12-16 weeks. So, you’ll need to begin training during that time if it’s a puppy. Dogs above this age limit might never be completely comfortable around new things.

Behavioral indicators to watch out for

When socializing your dog by introducing them to family members, please take note of their body language and responses. If they display tense postures, bare their teeth, growl, bark, or strike a defensive pose, you might want to discontinue the meet and greet. However, if they’re docile and relaxed or they’re wagging their tails, then you can go ahead to give them treats. The dogs that display hostile behaviours are probably afraid, so you should calm them down and continue the process some other time.

Introducing two dogs

As a dog parent, you’re probably wondering, ‘How do you introduce dogs to each other?’ There are several ways to introduce two dogs to each other, but this is the best way to do it:

The meet cute

When introducing a new dog to the family dog, you might want to take the family dog out for a walk first. Then take the new dog inside the house to familiarize himself. Follow this up by taking both dogs outside for a meet and greet. Note the body language, as the family dog might be territorial. Ease into it and remember to be patient. They may not turn into best buddies in a day.

Separate Spaces

Putting both dogs on the same bed might be a recipe for disaster. So, while they’re still getting to know each other and acclimating, get them separate beds and place them in separate rooms if you can. The same thing applies to feeding and water bowls. Preferably, you can feed them in separate rooms and eventually transition to one room once they’re fully acclimated.

Prioritize playdates

Pets thrive on an established routine which should include daily walks and trips to the park. Setting up outdoor playdates gives each dog the illusion of freedom and prevents them from feeling cornered. This is also the best way to socialize with other pets and humans. However, we understand some pet parents have busier schedules than others and so may not be able to take time off to help their pets socialize in this manner. Although if you sign up for our Lifetime Protection Membership, you will receive a $30 Rover discount which could help you save on dog-walking services from

Pointers for introducing a puppy to an older dog

The pointers above will suffice if you introduce a new puppy to an older family dog. However, do not neglect the older dog and tend to the puppy alone. Let both pets feel loved and prioritized, which will help them acclimate better. Get new dog toys and use positive reinforcement to train them together.

Pointers for introducing a rescue to a family dog

Older family dogs can sometimes feel stressed by new dogs , and there are several indicators to watch out for. However, if you give both dogs time to adjust and ensure they have their resources while keeping a consistent socialization routine, both dogs will be best buddies in no time.

Your dogs are your best friends, so it’s only natural to want them to get along with each other and with your family and friends. So, the first step to socializing a new pet is introducing them to one other. While it may sound easy, this requires great preparation and a lot of patience. Effective pet socialization can take work, and we understand that not many dog parents have the time to do this the right way.