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When you met your new dog, it was love at first sight. You just knew that the two of you were going to be the best of friends.
But what about your partner?
Introducing your new dog to your partner is a crucial moment. If you live with your partner, your new dog is going to be sharing a house with them—and even if you don’t live with them, chances are, they’re going to be around a lot. And because of the amount of face time your partner is going to get with your pup, it’s important to make sure your dog feels comfortable around them.
But how do you make those introductions and ensure your new dog loves your partner just as much as you do? What’s the best way to introduce your new dog to your partner?
Get Your Dog Used To Your Partner’s Scent
Dogs are scent-driven animals. If you can get your dog used to your partner’s scent—and, better yet, connect that scent with something positive—their initial introduction will go a LOT better.
Ask your partner for something that carries their scent. A recently worn t-shirt is a great option! Give the t-shirt to your dog and let them give it a good sniff. Then, once they're done sniffing, give them a treat or another reward (like praise or a nice belly scratch). Repeat this process multiple times in the days leading up to the big introduction. The more your dog associates your partner’s scent with something positive, the higher the likelihood that they’ll have positive feelings for your partner upon meeting them.
Meet On Neutral Territory
You wouldn’t be too pleased if a stranger just wandered into your house. And your dog isn’t going to be too pleased if you spring your partner on them for the first time while they’re relaxing on the couch.
If your partner doesn’t live with you, you’re going to want to introduce them to your dog on neutral territory. Take your dog outside to the front yard or meet in a public place your dog enjoys, like the park.
Your partner might be tempted to introduce themselves to your dog, but let your dog make the first move! Give your partner a few dog treats and have them wait for your dog to approach them. When your dog approaches, have them give your pup a treat. If your dog seems too timid to approach, have them gently toss the treats on the ground nearby.
The goal is to get to the point that your dog is comfortable taking treats from your partner’s hand. Once that happens, your dog should relax more around your partner.
Move Things Inside
Once your dog is happily hanging out with your partner and taking treats from their hand? It’s time to take things inside.
Head back in the house with your dog and your partner. Once inside, have your partner give your dog another treat, play a quick game of fetch, or pass off your pup’s favorite toy. The point is, you want to continue to reinforce your dog’s positive associations with your partner. Again, the more you associate your partner with positive things, the more your pup will start to like them. And eventually, your dog will just consider your partner another member of the family.
Additional Tips To Introducing Your New Dog To Your Partner
Here are a few more tips to keep in mind to make sure your dog/partner interactions go as smoothly as possible:
- Repeat your partner’s name often. Throughout the entire introduction process—from introducing your partner’s scent to inviting them into your home—make sure to repeat their name often. That way, when you say your partner’s name, your dog knows what (and who!) to expect—which will make them a lot more comfortable.
- Take it slow. You don’t want to force a relationship between your dog and your partner. If your dog seems apprehensive, give them time! It might take a few introductions (and a few treats!), but they'll warm up to your partner on their own time.
- Get help if you need it. If your dog bites or acts aggressively towards your partner, talk to your vet or a certified dog trainer. They can help you figure out a plan to get your dog more comfortable with your partner (and keep your partner safe in the process).