Tips for Introducing Your Dog to a Roommate
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Dog introductions with new people can be stressful — especially if the new person is moving into your dog's territory, aka your house. Whether a romantic partner is moving in, a child is returning home or you're renting out a room in your house, your dog will need time to prepare before a new person joins the household.
In the best case scenario, you've been socializing your dog with other people for a while now. If your dog is comfortable with new people, the roommate and dog introduction will definitely be easier. But even if strangers make your pup squirm, there are several key steps you can take to prepare him to share his space with a new person.
Introduce Your Dog to the New Roommate's Scent
Roommate-dog introductions can begin even before your pet actually meets the new person. If possible, before the roommate moves in, leave their (worn and unwashed) clothing or shoes throughout your home so your pooch can get accustomed to the person's scent.
If that isn't possible, take your pup out of the home while the new roommate moves in. Then, allow him to explore the space with the new items in it but without the new person present.
The Initial Roommate and Dog Introduction
Letting your new roommate just saunter in and claim space in your home might cause even the most social dog to act out — never mind a dog with known territorial issues. Instead, the first dog introductions should take place somewhere neutral, like a dog park.
While it's fine for the new person to greet or come toward you both, let your dog be the first to begin the introduction. They'll likely start by sniffing the person. If you've brought the new roomie's smell into your home already, this initial meeting may go more smoothly.
Reward Your Dog
your dog's favorite treat. Beforehand, teach them the proper way to feed your pup. Do you have your dog sit and stay before feeding them? Your new housemate should follow your lead.
Treats should always be left on the ground in front of your dog if they're in a "stay" position or fed to him with an open, extended hand to avoid accidental biting.
Avoid Overwhelming Your Dog
How does your dog seem to be feeling about this big event? If they're struggling, it's best to take things slow and keep the introduction quick. Instead of trying to make them best friends right away, just focus on familiarizing them with one another. The goal is for your dog to recognize that the new person isn't a threat. Be patient: it might take a few human-to-dog introductions for your pet to feel comfortable.
If the meeting is going well, great! Just don't push your dog too much. They may initially enjoy the company of his new housemate, but the new person should avoid being overly affectionate. Ask that they hold off on kissing, hugging, picking your dog up or looking into their eyes — these interactions may feel overwhelming or threatening to a pet. Save the cuddles for later and, if possible, commit to a few more meetings at the park or elsewhere before your new housemate moves in.
If the first meeting and move in happen all at once, let your new roommate be the one to bring your dog into the house, on their leash — as long as the initial introduction went smoothly. Doing this will show your pet that the new person has some dominance and that they belong in the home.
There's no reason to be stressed about an upcoming roommate and dog introduction. With these tips in hand, you'll be able to facilitate a calm and successful first meeting and move in. Pretty soon, your housemate and pooch won't be able to get enough of each other!
Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform—and even transform—its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print, and includes interviews, ghostwriting, blog posts, and creative nonfiction. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Reach out to her on Twitter @ReinventingErin or learn more about her at http://erinollila.com.