7 Tips on How to Introduce Your Dog to New Roommates

7 Tips on How to Introduce Your Dog to New Roommates

Author WDF Staff


Moving and significant life changes can be stressful for all of us, but we are mainly focused on ourselves and forget that our dogs go through those changes with us. Whether you’re moving into an apartment where someone already lives or someone is moving in with you, your dog will have to accept and learn how to behave around the new person. Many of us get worried about how our dog will react, and we want to know how to introduce your dog to new roommates. Luckily, our behavioral experts can lend you a helping hand. Here are a few tips on how to introduce your dog to new roommates.

1. Start with the scent

One of the best pieces of advice you can get is - introduce your dog to your new roommate’s scent first. The same goes for introducing dogs to new babies. Take a piece of the new roommate’s clothes and get your dog familiar with it. That way, when the roommate meets the dog for the first time, your dog will already know the scent and won’t get startled. Your dog’s nose is their most powerful scent, which means they will rely on it quite a bit. Getting to know the new roommate’s scent means setting the groundwork for success.

dog sitting on a girl's lap

2. Take your dog out while the roommate settles in

If your dog is reactive and you think they might not be the happiest about your new living arrangement, you should take them out while your new roommate settles in. Allow your new roommate to place their things around the apartment, and since your dog already knows the scent, it will be less stressful for them. This is also a good idea since the roommate will not come in abruptly and claim the space your dog might have enjoyed earlier. After you return home with your dog, allow the dog to explore the new things, space, and scents your roommate brought in with them.

3. Neutral introduction

Another fantastic thing you can do for everyone’s benefit is introduce your dog to the new roommate before they start settling in your apartment or you in their apartment. Make the initial introduction in a neutral environment, like a park close to your apartment. The dog will feel less threatened. They will have a chance to interact and get to know each other in a far less stressful situation than moving into the apartment.

dogs in dog park

Make the experience as positive as you can. Bring treats and give them to your new roommate to give to your dog. Make your dog associate your roommate with positive things like treats, playing, and cuddling. It is the best way to introduce them and make it fun for all parties involved.

4. Watch the body language

Your new roommate might like dogs, but they are not a dog owner or as experienced as you are. As a responsible dog owner, it is up to you to keep the interactions calm, controlled, and safe. You should know what nervous or scared dogs look like and what body language they might exhibit. If you start noticing things are about to escalate, and your dog starts showing signs like stifness, barking, absence of a wagging tail, lip licking, panting, or yawning, you should give your dog some space. Allow your dog to cool down and give them another chance. Keep in mind that this is a significant change for your dog as well as for you, and they might not handle their emotions as well as you do.

5. Don’t overwhelm your dog

Overwhelming is something we can do unconsciously to our dogs. We might understand that our new roommate needs to bring in many boxes, clothes, and the rest of their possessions into their new apartment, but your dog might not. The dog will not understand what’s happening and why the sudden changes in their environment are happening. They can easily get overwhelmed, and if that happens, you need to give your dog some space. After the roommate brings everything in, allow your dog to sniff around their stuff and get accustomed to the new living arrangement.

woman playing with a dog on beach

VET TIP: Your dog’s stress might affect their digestion, so don’t be surprised if your dog gets diarrhea, vomits, or losses appetite for 24 hours. They might seem tough, but dogs are actually very gentle and sensitive, and stress doesn’t do them any good.

6. Rules and guidelines

Most dog owners know dogs thrive on a schedule. They love their routines because they know when they’ll go out or when their next meal is expected. It makes them calm and well-behaved. It is crucial you let your new roommate know what your dog’s schedule looks like. Let them know how many treats they can give your dog, when the mealtimes are, how many daily walks your dog needs, and what kind of games your dog likes to play. Not only is this great for avoiding potential issues, but it is also great because your roommate might help with taking care of your dog. If you’re busy, they can walk your dog once they get accustomed and used to each other. Who knows, your dog might get a great friend in your roommate.

woman with two dogs

7. Ask for professional help

One thing you should never be afraid of is asking for help. There is no shame in wanting the new roommate introduction to go smoothly. If you think the situation might be a bit too much for you to handle, ask professional dog trainers for help. These experts understand the dog’s point of view and their understanding of the world around them. Dog trainers will get to know your dog, assess their weaknesses and strengths, and give you tailor-made tips that apply to your dog specifically. Plus, they can stay with you while you make initial introductions. Dog trainers are a great resource. If you have a dog that might react badly to your new roommate, paying a professional dog trainer will definitely be worth your money.

World Dog Finder team

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