March 4, 2021

Introducing a New Dog to Your Family Dog Safely

by Kathrine Breeden


The following protocol can be used for introducing a dog that is merely going to be visiting for a few
days/weeks, a foster dog, or a newly adopted dog.

Carefully following this protocol will set the dogs up for maximum success regarding getting along
with each other. It also facilitates something equally important – that the new dog bonds with the
owner rather than the resident dog.

The whole point is to give the dogs the chance to get acclimated to the smell of the other dog without
the stress of having to deal with the other dog face to face, in their space, around their toys, beds,
resources, food, people etc.

We want them to learn that even though the other dog is in the house, they are not being adversely
affected by the other dog.

This training is based entirely upon the scent to work hand in hand with the dog’s natural
instincts. Allowing the dog’s instincts to teach the lesson is simple and effective. Read through the
entire protocol before you begin!

• If possible, it’s ideal to introduce the scent of each dog to the other dog before they’re even in
the same house. For example, if a family member will be visiting, they can prepare some scent
samples and send them in advance.
o Take strips of t-shirts, sheets or towels and rub them all over the dog. Place them
promptly into Ziplock bags and freeze them. This will protect the integrity of the scent.
o If you can deliver frozen scent samples that’s great! Otherwise send them in the mail
with ice packs if possible and refreeze upon arrival.
• Set up two safe areas in your house: one for the resident dog(s) and another for the new dog.
Each area (small room, crate, kennel) should have a bowl of water, something to chew on, and
a place to rest. Use a closed door or baby gate with a blanket to keep the dogs from seeing
each other during stages 1-3.


1. When the new dog arrives at the home it is crucial that the dogs do not make visual contact
(no eye contact whatsoever) until the final stage. We cannot let them see one another, but
we will let them experience the smell of each other through scent articles.

2. Old t-shirts, cut up towels, blankets, dog beds and toys can be used as scent articles. Place
scented articles from each dog in the other dog’s containment area. The frequent switching of
these scent articles alone will allow a deeper familiarity between the dogs. We are
communicating to the dogs the way they understand… through their nose!

1. Your resident dog should be confined and out of sight when the new dog is out of his cage.

2. Let the new dog roam around the house with your supervision. He will be getting accustomed
to his new home and his new owners. You might notice him occasionally rubbing himself
against a wall or piece of furniture – or in some way putting his scent, however subtly, around
the inside of the house.

3. With a new dog you won’t want to let him have too much time to wander around because he
might also do some urine marking! (Read and follow the protocol in my “Potty Training your
Puppy” handout.) Let him outside as quickly as possible. He can put his scent all over the
outside area.

4. Once the new dog has checked out his new environment and had the opportunity to leave his
own scent about the house, place the new dog in his safe area of confinement and take the
scent articles from there to place in the resident dog’s safe area.

1. Take the scent articles from the resident dog’s safe area and place them with the new dog.

2. Let the resident dog out to roam around the house and yard. The first time the resident dog
goes exploring he will probably vigorously explore the scent left around the home by the new
dog until he is satisfied the intruder has “escaped”. Your resident dog might be very excited, or
even panicked. Once he’s had the chance to have a good sniff around, distract him with a
yummy stuffed Kong, a game of fetch or just sit quietly with him. It’s important that the scent
discovery period is as positive as possible for both dogs.

3. Repeat stages two and three many times daily. Remember to swap the scent articles each

4. Watch both dogs’ body language to calculate when they are ready to meet face to face. In
either dog, look for excessive interest in the other dog’s presence. Racing around looking for
the other dog, dashing from place to place or general over-arousal means they’re not ready to
meet yet!

5. You’re ready when neither dog is taking any notice of the presence of the other dog.
Until the resident dog is behaving just how he did before the other dog arrived in the house
and not showing excessive interest, there is a good chance that if you introduce them, there
will be trouble.

6. Until the resident dog is behaving in that way there is a good chance that if you introduce them
while he’s showing excessive interest in the other dog, there will be trouble between them.

7. For the resident dog to understand the new smell, he should be let out of his safe area as
many times a day as possible. The resident dog should only be let out after the new dog has
played and been put away.

8. With these short routines, both dogs are familiarizing each other at a faster rate. The more
times you let your new dog and then your resident dog out, the quicker they will be acquainted.

9. When your resident dog comes out of his safe area and does not follow the scent of the new
dog, he has given his permission. This process takes varying lengths of time depending on the
dogs’ like or dislike of other dogs. It can take minutes, hours or weeks depending on the
individual dogs. When both dogs are showing NO interest in the scent of the other dog this is
the best time to physically introduce them.

Introducing the dogs in a large fenced area (PREFERRED)

1. If possible, introduce the dogs in a large fenced area. For territorial reasons, the introductions
should not be on your property for the first time. A neighbor’s fenced in yard, a fenced in ball
field (when no other dogs or people might interfere), or any other fenced in area will be an
appropriate meeting ground. Leashes may not take the place of a fenced in area; holding the
leashes may potentially bring out aggression.

2. Let the resident dog run around the field or fenced yard, with the new dog out of sight. The
resident dog is laying his now familiar scent.

3. Now it is time for the new dog to play in the field. Take the resident dog away and out of sight
and let the new dog smell the familiar resident dog’s scent.

4. Now that the dogs have already been comfortably introduced via scent, they are ready to
meet. Bring the resident dog in and let go of the leash. The dogs usually run over to greet each
other, smell, posture… and have no inclination to fight.

Introducing the dogs with parallel walking
1. If there is no safe area to introduce the dogs then taking them for a walk on leash can
substitute. Walk parallel to one another, if necessary on opposite sides of the street and get
gradually closer. If either dog is showing excessive interest in the other dog then don’t bring
them any closer – it will probably be a bad greeting!

2. If one dog is more calm and stable than the other you can walk that dog in front and gradually
let the other dog get close enough to do a quick butt sniff and go away. Keep practicing until
the whole process is very calm then reverse roles.

Introducing the dogs in a small backyard
1. If you are forced to introduce the dogs in a fenced back yard, probably a fairly small area, let
the resident dog out first. Both dogs should have leashes attached but not held, (unless there
are lots of trees & bushes they could get caught on and in that case use a very short, maybe
18” leash so at least you’ve got something you could get hold of in an emergency other than
the collar/harness) and you should have a garden hose with a spray attachment set on “jet”
turned on at the ready.

2. Don’t hang around near the door area. Let the new dog out. Ideally you would have several
people present and all keep chatting in a relaxed manner and walking around.

3. Don’t stand still, staring at the dogs to see what happens. Keep it upbeat, but not over excited,
and relaxed. Walking around, distracting the dogs if you see tension, will help to keep the
meeting relaxed and successful.

• If either dog has a history of aggression towards other dogs this does not necessarily mean
they cannot co-exist with another dog – it does mean that they probably need a long slow
period of acclimatization to the new dog being on their property and then very careful
management once they have met to ensure that they continue to get along. It is best to consult
a professional behavior consultant for help with those types of dogs!
• For multi-dog households you don’t need to keep all the resident dogs separated from each
other – just the new dog should be separated from the other dogs.
• Make sure to have a bowl of fresh water for each dog throughout this process. Don’t forget it
during stage four!
• When in doubt, spend extra time in stages 1-3. If you still have concerns, contact me and we
can discuss the situation.


Kathrine Breeden , for over 15 years now, has worked with many happy clients: veterinarians, groomers, pet sitters, dog walkers, rescue groups, other trainers, pet photographers and more. Many have gone on to refer new  customers to Kathrine who is a pioneer of Force Free dog training and one of only a few dog trainers in Arizona who are educated in this approach.  This is a preview of the many articles on Kathrine’s  membership web site available in PDF s.  Visit her web site.


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