Adding a second dog to your family can be a very happy, exciting time.  It can also be a time of stress, anxiety, doubt, and regret.  Things don’t always go as planned….actually, things RARELY go as planned, but if you are willing to put in the time and effort you can make the situation work.


Bringing in that second dog will be an adjustment for every living being in the household (both 2 legged and 4 legged members).  Schedules will be disrupted, “potty” accidents may happen, and fights may break out.  I am not trying to discourage anyone from choosing to add a second dog to the family; I just wanted share some of what I learned and see what other tips people might have for breaking up or preventing fights between a current dog and a newly adopted dog.


1.  Don’t be afraid to scold the adopted dog for doing something you don’t like.  If you wouldn’t let your “old” dog get away with it, you shouldn’t let your “new” dog get away with it either.


2.  Don’t be afraid to let yourself love the new dog, just don’t forget to give your other dog attention too.


3.  If the weather permits, let your 2 dogs spend some time outside together on more neutral territory before taking them inside your house on that very first day.


4.  Once they are inside, give the new dog some time to explore without the other  dog bothering him.  Show the new dog his water and food bowls (be sure to have separate bowls for each dog, but they may eventually end up sharing water bowls).


5.  Give the adopted dog a “security area” (possibly a crate) where he can go if he needs some time to himself.  Do not allow the other dog to go into that crate, it is the adopted dog’s space, but do not allow the adopted dog to become possessive of that crate or the area around it.  He needs to learn that the crate is his safe area but that other dogs and people can walk around the area without harming him.


6.Keep an eye on them.  Don’t let them be together unsupervised until you know how they respond to each other. 


7.  If you hear a growl, don’t step in right away, but be on alert incase the situation escalates.


8.  Never use your hand or body to break up a dog fight.  If it is a serious fight and not just a scuffle, it is likely that you will get hurt too.


9.  Keep something on hand that you can use to get the dogs’ attention if they are engaged in a fight.  I learned this the hard way.  My trainer suggested an air horn because it would be loud enough to startle them and give you the opportunity to separate the dogs.


10.  If they were in a fight, keep them separate for a while because it may take more than just afew minutes for the tension to die down.


11.  After a fight, check each dog for injuries.  Doodles have long fur, you might not notice cuts and scrapes right away.


12.  Once your dogs have started to fight, temporarily take away all toys and privileges (i.e. being allowed on furniture).   This will prevent them from fighting over any toys and will make them choose between playing with each other or doing absolutely nothing at all.  When you give the toys back, do so only under your supervision until you feel confident  that they can share the toys without any altercations. 


13.  If you can, walk the dogs together (either by yourself or with another person).  This is an opportunity for them to get exercise and spend time with each other and you.


14.  Training, training, training.  (yeah, my trainer told me that one!!).   Training the adopted dog will help you bond with him and help him to learn what you expect of him. 


If I remember anything else that helped us get through a particularly rough patch, I will be sure to add it to this list.  If anyone else has any tips, I would love to hear them. 


If you are curious about what happened between my two dogs that led to this discussion on dog fights, read my blog post called “A Rocky Road to a Happy Ending”.  If you have any questions add a comment to this discussion or feel free to send me a private message.

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I think this list is perfect. I still have to step in with my two every once in a while when I can see that their "play fighting" is starting to escalate, but for the most part now they are able to work things out together.

Thanks for posting this, Amy.

Here's a link to Amy's blog about her Rocky Road to a Happy Ending


And here are some photos of the happy ending beginning!

Great tips. I think I have had to resort to ALL of them. This is very helpful also for introducing a foster dog to your pack.... Seamus always seems to give them a jaundiced eye as it to say ...."Aww, you're just an interloper".


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