How To Blend A Family Of Dogs After Marriage

There’s a huge amount of advice and literature out there about blending families when it comes to childrenisn’t that what the Brady Bunch is all about too? But what about when it comes to your furry, tail-wagging, four-legged children? No, this isn’t an article about sideshow marriages; it’s your current dog and your future dog: Sasha and Lola! Though dogs can’t complain to us the way children might, you or your partner’s dogs might encounter a few issues once the family gets blended, and it’s a good idea to think about things beforehand. Luckily, as highly sociable creatures, it’s likely that Sasha and Lola will be able to get along just fine in the same household with time, even if things are tense at first.

In separate households, both Sasha and Lola were comfortable with their surroundings and sure of their place in the pack. But when your families come together, this pack assurance gets flipped on its head, and the dogs must re-establish pack order with a new companion. Allow this to happen naturally. Sometimes age determines who is in charge, sometimes it’s other factors. But you cannot force it.

Establishing Pack Structure

If either dog hasn’t been properly socialized with other dogs, it might be more difficult for them to deal with the presence of a new dog. If you have time before your households are blended, make sure to let Sasha and Lola interact with other dogs and realize that each is not the only dog in the world. Also, a dog who is well-trained in obedience will be much easier to deal withmaybe Sasha will want to growl and bark at Lola at first, but if she knows what your stern, no! means, she’ll learn faster. Proper obedience training is something that should have been done from puppyhood, but it’s never too late to start.

When the blending does happen, make sure neither you nor your partner shows favoritism toward either dog. You might want to comfort your own Sasha more if you sense she’s a bit agitated by Lola’s presence, or on the reverse side, you might want to give Lola extra love and attention as she’s the newbie and you want to make her feel welcome. Try your best not to do either of these things, and instead give both dogs the same level of attention. Make sure your partner does the same. You don’t want to encourage feelings of jealousy that might already be there.

In the beginning, you should give each dog her own space for sleeping and eating, and to escape to if the other dog’s presence becomes stressful. Especially if you’re blending an older dog and a younger, more energetic one, physical separation will be important if the little tyke who wants to play won’t leave the napper who wants to sleep alone. There have been plenty of cases when the introduction of a young dog will re-energize and make an older one more youthful though! And when things are more relaxed and the pack order has been re-established, you may find that Sasha and Lola want to be closer to each other and might even swap beds and toys every now and then.

If you notice a little fighting, provided things don’t get really rough, let them have their say. It is all part of the way dogs establish pack order. Each will test the other, see what she can get away with and see what is easily tolerated, etc. Just let it happen. Unless you see blood, or things getting aggressive, remember, it’s their world, not ours. If you stifle them, it will only delay the process.

In the end, there’s no way to predict what will happen when Sasha and Lola become family. Dogs’ interactions with each other have a lot to do with breed, age, history and personality. The biggest piece of advice you should follow is to have patience and give it time. When things change (for both people and dogs!) it’s hard to adjust at first, but everything gets a lot easier with a bit of time.


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