I've been aware of the "decompression" phase you're supposed to adhere to when bringing a new dog into your home. Basically, keeping stimulation (ie other people, other animals, learning too much too fast, etc.) to a minimum.
Don't do too much too fast.
Honestly, with all of our other dogs, I didn't really follow it well enough.
With bringing a third dog into the mix I was admittedly a bit nervous and wanted to do right by him and our resident dogs. We've kept it super slow. They say a minimum of two weeks of "let down" and acclimation is necessary. I decided to take it even slower and just base it off of how Hank (and Brie and Doug) were doing.
Yes, we named him Hank!!
He's seriously the cutest! Look at those paws!
Hard to believe where he came from:
When he got to us, Hank started out with his own room with his own (open) crate and his own toys. He was fed in there and slept in there.
Initially, he didn't even have contact with the other dogs. They went out separately and all.
Then he met Brie and Doug each separately outside.
Initially group play time was brief and kept to a positive short session. At the same time we started to incorporate him into our "life" in the rest of the house too.
I'm so happy we chose to go slow. Sure there were definitely some squabbles and a few fights but with three big dogs, two of them young little turds, it will happen.
Both Doug and Hank can be possessive over toys and food. Not surprising considering their pasts. For Doug, every toy is his. For Hank, his crate is his territory and no one else should bother with it. Therefore, we have no toys around any more. Only in their separate spaces. And we keep crates closed whether they are in them or they're empty. And that works just fine. You have to do what works, not necessarily what is easiest. That is why three dogs (or more) is certainly not for everyone. It's a lot to manage most of the time. We have to be very vigilant all the time.
We also have taken all of our dogs to obedience classes. I'm not a professional dog trainer but I have had a lot of experience with dogs and horses and would be absolutely fine to train a dog basic commands on my own. The problem is, I don't. It's always the thing that gets pushed to the back burner. Having formal classes not only keeps me on track and committed but it is also incredibly important for socialization.
Hank was a nervous barking mess when classes first started. Jumping and whining and completely distracted. It would have been easier to say, "this isn't for him." But I knew it was important and as the weeks went on he became a different dog. He was clearly better at home too. It's so important and worth the money every single time.
And Hank graduated in April!
The instructors were so impressed with his progress from a bag of bones, to a nervous mess, to a very good boy. We're planning to take the advanced course when it's offered!
Now of course, my dogs are certainly not picture perfect, not even by a long shot. Sometimes they are down right bad (this past weekend comes to mind....). They still squabble, they're a handful, they don't always listen...but I think I'm doing my best in trying to make them good citizens and trying to keep with it.
I cannot emphasize the importance of SLOW introductions, even for a young puppy. It is incredibly important and so often ignored.
Do right by those who depend on you and take it slow! You can't go too slow but you can always go too fast. Slower is always better, always.
You'll be glad you did!