While you may think that bringing a new pup or rescue into our household will provide a friend and playmate for your existing dog, your dog may have other ideas about the new relationship. Just like people, changes in social dynamics can be confusing and stressful, and your dog may feel jealous of the new addition. Fortunately, there are strategies to introduce the new pet which can help alleviate this jealousy.
To introduce a new dog to a jealous dog, supervise the initial meeting in a neutral environment with both dogs leashed. Reward both dogs with treats and praise when they behave well where jealousy might normally arise. There’s also nothing wrong with keeping the dogs separated until they accept each other, whether it takes hours or weeks.
Jealousy is normal in single-pet households, but that doesn’t mean introducing a new dog has to be impossible. Let’s explore some proper strategies for introducing a new dog to a jealous dog.
Do Dogs Get Jealous?
Social animals like dogs can experience jealousy and envy through social interactions. Dogs have the hormone oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone.” Whenever you look into your dog’s eyes with love, both your dog’s and your oxytocin levels increase. Your attachment levels (toward your dog) increase with the increase of oxytocin.
Oxytocin is also responsible for jealousy in both dogs and humans. When you bring home a new puppy and introduce it to your dog, your dog may feel threatened by the new presence, hence the jealousy. You must present your new puppy slowly to your dog, and while you shower your new puppy with the extra care and attention it requires, you must avoid making your dog feel neglected.
A University of Vienna’s study found that dogs feel jealous, as revealed in an obedience experiment. In the test, two dogs were seated together in pairs. The dogs were asked to perform a “shake hands” test, but the researchers only rewarded one dog.
The research found that the dog that experienced jealousy or envy refused to obey the command when not rewarded. It was apparent that the dog that had stopped performing the task was annoyed and stressed out about only its partner getting the reward. The dog’s behavior was a form of jealousy.
Dog jealousy isn’t as complicated as human jealousy. The test found that dogs cared more about fairness (whether everyone gets equally rewarded for their efforts) than equity (whether everyone is given rewards of the same quality). Your dog will feel less jealous of a new puppy when it gets the love, care, and attention it needs.
Make Sure You Really Want Another Dog
Your first consideration should be whether you really want another dog. Many people get a second dog for the wrong reasons, and since it’s a lifetime decision for the dog, you should make it carefully.
A common reason for getting another dog is thinking that it will solve a problem with the current dog, whether it is lack of exercise or separation anxiety. Depending on another dog to provide the exercise that you can’t give to your dog does not make sense. The usual result in these situations is that both dogs end up lacking an adequate amount of exercise.
A second dog will do nothing to solve a case of separation anxiety. That condition will continue to exist until treated, and you will also have another dog to care for as well. It is better to find a professional to address your current dog’s issues and focus on that.
Dogs with aggression are not necessarily going to improve simply because another dog is present, and depending on their temperaments, it may make the issue worse.
Another dynamic that most people who are considering adding another dog are not aware of is that it is likely that your current dog will become less dependent on you and more attached to the other dog. You are no longer their entire world, and the bond between an owner and only dog often isn’t as strong once a new dog is introduced.
How To Introduce a New Dog to a Jealous Dog
While some dogs are very protective of their owners, some dogs tend to display attention-seeking behaviors more than others. Keep an eye on your dog and ensure that your dog does not get violent or aggressive when introduced to a new dog. The icebreaking phase is the most important to ensure that both dogs can live peacefully and happily under one roof in the long run.
Be Mindful When Choosing Your New Dog
Introducing a new dog to your jealous dog can be challenging because you want to make sure that your dog is okay with the family’s latest addition. Some dog owners have found that a male and a female dog, or a male and a male dog, are good combinations that will less likely create conflicts. However, a female dog with another female dog is more likely to cause conflicts, though it certainly isn’t a deal breaker.
Compatibility is essential, so if you can find another dog breed compatible with your jealous dog, chances are they’ll get along just fine. It’s crucial to choose the right breed for your dog because the wrong combination could lead to undesirable consequences.
If you are introducing a new puppy to your jealous dog, you want to avoid dog breeds that have the tendencies to chase small things. Your puppy is tiny, so it can be dangerous to have it around chasing breeds like terrier-type dogs. Examples of terrier-type dogs are:
- Kerry Blue Terrier
- Manchester Terrier
- Bull Terrier
- Jack Russel Terrier
You also want to consider your existing dog’s age and health conditions. It may not be a good idea to bring home a highly active young dog when you have an older dog struggling with health issues.
Older dogs don’t have much energy to play for extended periods and would spend most of their time resting and relaxing, so you want to make sure that you have plenty of time to spend with your young dog without making your older dog feel neglected, either.
By the same token, older dogs that still have adequate energy but may be bored and less active than when they were younger may be somewhat rejuvenated by the introduction of an energetic puppy. Many dog owners can attest to this dynamic where a new puppy prompted an older dog to “act like a puppy” again.
Just remember that a new puppy will be a constant presence with an abundance of energy for several years, so factor in your older dog’s expected energy levels and health in the coming years when choosing a new dog, as they may change rather quickly.
The Initial Introduction
Introduce the Dogs Outside Your Home
It will help to introduce your new dog to your jealous dog outside in a neutral territory, not in your home or yard. Your dog treats your home as their safe place, so bringing an outsider into their territory can make them feel uncomfortable or threatened. Get the dogs to mingle and become comfortable with each other elsewhere first before having them back home together.
Try to introduce the dogs over a weekend, where you have a few days to monitor them together. You don’t want to make the introduction and then immediately leave the new dog alone in a strange environment.
Keep both dogs on leashes, but allow a little space for them to maneuver. You want your dog to feel calm. Get someone to help you walk your new dog while you walk your existing dog in a less crowded area.
A good tactic is for you to walk your dog and have the person walking the new dog “catch up” from behind so both dogs view it more as a random encounter on a walk and not an “event’. Both dogs can look at one another and get to know each other as they walk but also remain suitable distracted by other things so their focus on each other doesn’t cause them to be overstimulated.
Bringing Them Into the Home
When you arrive home, you want to take both dogs to the yard before entering the house. You want to keep both dogs on leashes first, but if you notice the two are wagging their tails and acting comfortable with each other, you can drop the leashes so that they can socialize. Upon entering the house, you want both the dogs to enter quickly to avoid any of them reacting to the other entering later.
When entering the house, you want to watch out for some of these behaviors:
- Long staring
- Fur spiking
If you notice your dog displaying unfriendliness, you should keep them separated from the new dog. It may take some time for a jealous dog to warm up to a new dog, so it is crucial that you’re there for your new dog to keep it safe. You don’t want your dog to hurt your new dog or get hurt by the new dog’s presence.
When bringing a puppy home, you must give your dog time to accept the new dog. Don’t force the two dogs to be friends. Make sure your jealous dog doesn’t bully the new dog and if you catch your dog doing that, you must discourage it immediately.
It is important that you give both dogs enough supervision to ensure your jealous dog won’t continue to carry out bad behaviors. If you don’t show your jealous dog which behaviors are not acceptable, your dog will assume that its current behaviors are acceptable. As the leader, you should show your jealous dog what you will tolerate and will not so that it will not set its own limits.
Supervise Your Dogs
If you have noticed your dog tends to be jealous, you want to allocate plenty of time with your dog during the introduction period. Observe your dog’s reactions when you interact with your new dog. You don’t want to leave both dogs alone at home together when you are away, at least not until you are confident they have become comfortable with each other.
You may notice your dog growling at the new dog. This is not unusual. It’s normal for your dog to show some territorial and possessive traits when a new presence is suddenly introduced into their household.
Your dog may be feeling insecure and growling out of fear or confusion. Rather than trying to correct the dog, which often makes them even more insecure and fearful, try to create positive experiences for them when they are around the other dog. For instance, if the presence of the other dog means they get playtime or treats, they will soon associate the other dog with good things.
Feeding Dogs When One of Them is Jealous
When feeding both your new dog and jealous dog, make sure you create space between them. It’s best to feed them separately initially (or even long term, as it can’t hurt), and pick up their food bowls when they are done so they don’t become a point of jealousy.
You want your jealous dog to feel comfortable and assure it that the new dog will not get into their space or try to get their food. In time, your jealous dog will understand that the new dog’s presence won’t threaten its position in the house.
Create Independent Spaces
Before bringing a new dog to your home, you should make spaces in your home where the dogs can get away from each other. You want to avoid territorial behavior in your dog. During the introduction period, your dog may feel confused or stressed out, so you want to make sure that it has all the space it needs to calm itself, observe the situation, and adapt to it.
You can use baby gates to create separate spaces for the dogs if convenient barriers like doors don’t already exist. In addition to making your jealous dog less stressed by the constant presence of the new dog, having them physically separated when you are gone will give you peace of mind that no conflicts will occur. Of course, once they have proven that they can coexist comfortably and happily, these barriers can be taken down or used less often.
Crate training both dogs is well worth the effort for many reasons. But it’s especially helpful with a jealous dog. One or both dogs can be put in their crate and be safely insulated from the other. It is also a safeguard when you leave the house until you know they will get along safely.
Some dogs will go to the bathroom indoors when they are upset. If you notice your dog suddenly doing this after you’ve introduced the new dog, your dog may be expressing its unhappiness and uncertainty. While you must discourage this behavior, you should start working on ways to assure your dog that your love for it hasn’t changed.
You will also have to learn what your new dog’s cue is to ask to be let out. Not all dogs ask the same way. Some whine, some bark, some stand by the door, etc. Try to learn this as quickly as possible to avoid accidents.
If your attempts to ease the integration of the new dog into your household haven’t worked, you may consider seeking help from a professional dog trainer. If your jealous dog starts becoming more withdrawn or aggressive, you should probably do this sooner than later. The longer a situation continues to worsen, the more difficult it will be to resolve it. The end goal is to have both dogs be able to get along and coexist happily.
Fulfill Your Dog’s Needs
Puppies and younger dogs typically need more attention, but that doesn’t mean you should spend less time with your dog. Give your dog the same treatment as the new dog. If the new dog gets a hug, your dog should also get a hug. Make sure you maintain your dog’s routine, such as feeding, daily exercise, and treats.
Sometimes, it is okay to let your jealous dog feel upset before it learns to trust the family’s new addition. During this time, you must spend as much time as you can with your jealous dog to assure it that you are not replacing it and you will always love him even with the new dog around. Of course, you want to make sure that you also pay attention to your new dog.
You want to make sure that both dogs have their needs met. For example, you want to avoid competition between the dogs. Ensure both dogs have their feeding bowls and there are enough toys for both dogs to enjoy.
Avoid Excitement and Overstimulation
The best thing you can do in the initial stages of introducing a new dog to your jealous dog is to avoid situations where the dogs can get overly worked up. Your goal should be to create calm, chill, relaxed situations for the dogs to get to know each other and establish a normal routine.
Keep loose toys, bones, and your children’s friends away from the dogs, all of which can overexcite them. You don’t want intense play sessions, roughhousing, or tug of war games when the dogs are getting used to each other and the new dog is getting acclimated to their new environment. A controlled environment is the goal, not chaos.
If you notice that your jealous dog tends to be protective over its toys, you want to remove the toys during the icebreaking period. It may take weeks before your dog gets used to having another dog around. Your jealous dog may try to stop the new dog from bonding with you, so upon noticing this, you shouldn’t scold or punish your dog but move away.
Maintain Your Dog’s Routine
Don’t change your dog’s routine. You should maintain the routine that you have designed for your dog in the past and keep it the same way. By maintaining your dog’s daily routine, your dog will not think that the new dog is the cause of why things are suddenly done differently and get upset.
Never let the new dog and your jealous dog share a crate. You should avoid letting the new dog sleep in your room while your dog sleeps outside. It would also help to share time with both dogs separately.
When returning home from work, you should ignore both the dogs to avoid them feeling like one of them is getting more love and attention than the other. Both your dogs will eventually feel less excited so that aggression signs can be avoided. You can always pet them later on.
Reward Your Dog
It’s normal for a dog to feel jealousy and envy, but over possessiveness should be discouraged. Whenever your dog displays non-possessive behavior, reward it with attention, and eventually, your dog will associate the action with a reward — what dogs love the most.
Giving your jealous dog behavioral training can help your dog to reduce its possessive tendencies. Whenever your dog growls or shows teeth when the new dog gets close to you, slowly move away from the area to show the jealous dog that you do not tolerate the behavior and will not pay attention to it. If your dog acts calm even when the dog gets close to you, you can reward it with a hug, praise, or snack.
Your jealous dog may try to push the new dog to get your attention. When giving treats to both dogs, it’s helpful to have your treats ready in hand. Before your pushy, jealous dog gets to push the other dog around, you can throw a snack further away from where your jealous dog is.
When your jealous dog runs to get the treat, you must quickly give your non-pushy dog a treat so that it won’t consider going after the treat you threw earlier. Then, you can pet the new dog and throw another treat to your jealous dog when it returns. This time, you want to throw the treat not too far from the new dog you’re petting.
Your jealous dog will slowly realize that its new sibling is getting the same treat as he is and that you are giving both dogs love. When you stop tossing the treat away, your dog will come to you and look at you while you pet the new dog. Tell your jealous dog to sit still, and if they behave nicely next to you while you snuggle with the new dog, give your jealous dog a treat to reward it for the good behavior.
Continue rewarding your jealous dog for behaving calmly around you and the new dog. After some time, you can use verbal praise as well as treats to reward it. Eventually, your jealous dog will become less pushy and jealous.
Record Your Jealous Dog’s Behaviors
It’s a good habit to create a diary where you write down all of your jealous dog’s behaviors around the new dog. A journal can help you spot jealousy or aggression signs and help you find ways to tackle the problem. If you don’t know what to do about your dog’s jealous behaviors, you can always share the diary with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist to help you. Documenting behaviors will greatly help this process.
Dogs have oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone,” which means they can experience envy and jealousy as humans do. If you notice your dog has the tendency to be jealous, be mindful about introducing it to a new dog you have decided to add to the family.
Compatibility is vital to the success of the introduction between the new dog and your jealous dog. Treat both dogs equally to avoid competition. Reward your dog whenever it behaves well around you and the new dog. The work you put into establishing a good relationship in the first days and weeks will pay off for the rest of their life together.