Tips for Integrating Abused Pets into a New Home

by Frogs to Dogs via Ahimsa House

The first introduction of an abused dog into your home is one of the most important times for you to assume the role of kind and gentle leadership. This time is especially important if you are bringing a new dog into a home that already has pets.

When introducing the new dog to your dogs: Whenever possible, have the pups meet outside the house on a leash with a relaxed walk. Preferably two people can assist with this meeting, with one person holding the leash of the existing dogs while the other holds the leash of the new dog. Only allow the dogs to sniff noses briefly (less than five seconds), then separate them so that they can continue to walk off some of the excitement. Allow for this calm encounter to take place several times. 

Avoid prolonged periods of face-to-face greetings. Keep your energy calm and positive, and keep the dogs moving as much as possible. If there are any signs of reactivity (snarling, anxiousness, body stiffening, staring, lunging, barking), stay calm and ignore these behaviors while also keeping the dogs at a safe distance. Keep the dogs moving as a way to cope with the reactivity. Allow the dog who is more reactive to walk behind the calmer dog. As the reactive dog starts to calm down, you can decrease the distance between the dogs.

When you get back to the house: Allow the dogs to enter in an order that respects your existing pets. Allow the dog who has lived in the house for the longest period of time to enter first, ending with the new dog being lead into the house on leash. Upon entering the home, take the new dog to a quiet, restricted area where they can calm down. If you are using a crate for your new dog, use the crate at this time. If you do not use a crate, consider separating the dogs with a baby gate so that each animal has the chance to decompress.

Set up a Safe Haven: One of the best ways you can prepare your new dog to feel safe and secure in your home is by providing them with a small safe haven of their own. Whether you will be crating your new dog or if you’d prefer to just set up a room/area in the home baby-gated for separation, this space will provide your dog with the comfort of a little den. Make your dog’s area as comfortable as possible. 

As long as your foster dog doesn’t have destructive chewing tendencies, consider setting the area up with a bed, toys and treats for entertainment. Starting your dog off with a restricted area in the home not only assists in building your dog’s confidence and trust, but it also helps to decrease many problematic issues such as destructive chewing and accidents.