We work with and see a LOT of rescued dog and that is WONDERFUL. We LOVE rescue dogs but we also hear of and are contacted after these dogs “misbehave”.
Let’s put ourselves in our new dog’s situation: How would you feel if someone took you from where you were living (regardless of how nice or nasty, it was your familiar place) put you in a car for awhile and then dropped you off to live with a family in a foreign country where you didn’t speak the language?
I don’t know about you but I know I would probably shutdown and want to stay to myself and regain my confidence in my new surroundings, observe my new people and I certainly wouldn’t want their kids (two and four legged) in my face trying to be my friend and play. I want to stay in my safe place and watch…. We call this the Two-Week Decompression Time or Shutdown, there are a lot of names for it but the protocol is all very similar. There are lots of articles and information on it.
Here is one of my favorite articles on The First Two Weeks from Rebound Hounds. (http://www.reboundhounds.org/the-first-two-weeks.html)
During this shutdown time, I suggest keeping the dogs separate and at most walking them together outside in neutral areas such as walks around the neighborhood. I do not suggest having them in the backyard together, even on leash because the resident dog may be territorial. Instead have each dog outside alone so they can do their business, enjoy the outdoors and encounter each other’s scents to realize they are both living there and they can acclimate in safe, gradual manner.
Once the Two Weeks are done, you can start introductions. First introductions should be outside, on leash and in a NEUTRAL area. What is a neutral area? An area that MANY dogs and people frequent and your dogs do not. I typically use a neighborhood walk with 2 people so each person has a dog and you go for a walk with NO real touching interaction. I like them to just walk nicely with the other dog in the following sequence left to right – Dog, Person, Person, Dog. Dogs should be on the outside and people inside. This gives them close proximity but their own space. Space is important. Going back to when you meet new people, do you like them in your face? In your personal zone? No, we generally shake hands at an arm’s distance. Dog’s can’t shake hands (sniff butts) and maintain distance so let them just co-exist for a few walks. Again, we don’t want to force either dog onto the other and we don’t want either dog to be uncomfortable. Watch body language and it is ALWAYS BETTER to stop too soon and keep it safe and friendly.
Here is an article from Lucky Dog Animal Rescue that has some great information, Tips on Introducing a New Dog into Your Household Pack. (https://www.luckydoganimalrescue.org/articles/tips-introducing-new-dog-your-household-pack)
Best advice is to take it slow and keep everyone safe. It is much more efficient to do slow introductions than to try and recover from one that went too quickly. If you have questions or concerns, reach out to a knowledgeable trainer or dog person.