Adopting a new puppy is an exciting time for pet parents! If you have an older dog at home, you might be wondering how to introduce the new puppy to them. Puppies don’t yet understand the ‘dog world’ as your older dog does. With some preparation, however, you can make the meeting a success. Here’s how to introduce your two furry family members to each other.
Before the Introduction
Before you bring your new puppy home:
- Put away your older dog’s favorite chews and toys, to avoid territorial behavior.
- Create spaces in your home where both dogs can get away from the other.
- Purchase separate food dishes to prevent possessive aggression.
- Ensure both dogs are up-to-date on their vaccinations.
During the Introduction
Your older dog considers your house his house. In order to prevent territorial aggression, find a neutral area to introduce the older dog to the new puppy. Put your older dog on a leash while another person holds the puppy on a leash. However, let them sniff and meet each other; there’s no need to hold them tightly to your side. You don’t want them to feel restricted.
The initial introduction should be relatively quick.
Stay calm throughout. Your dog can sense tension within you and is more likely to be stressed if you are. Your dog will take your emotions into consideration throughout the introduction. He looks to you to understand how he should react to a situation.
Entering Your Home
For the first week or two, the older dog and puppy should be continuously monitored to ensure the dogs are comfortable with one another. Follow your older dog’s regular routine. Begin establishing a routine for the puppy as well, to provide necessary structure.
Watching your dogs’ body language for the first several weeks will help you gauge how they’re reacting to one another. If the puppy is young, he may not understand the body language of the adult dog very well. For instance, the puppy will likely want to engage in playtime even if the older dog is showing signs of discomfort.
What body language should you watch out for?
- Raised fur on the back of the neck/back
- Prolonged stares
- Display of teeth
- Hunched back
What Not to Do
What’s off limits?
- Do not allow the older dog to bully the puppy
- Do not, ever, allow the two dogs to fight
- Do not hold the puppy in your arms during the introduction
- Do not force them to be together
- Do not allow them to share a crate. Purchase a new crate for the puppy so both dogs have their own space.
What to Do Instead
- Do allow them to get used to one another at their own pace
- Do introduce them in a neutral area
- Do allow them to escape to their crate if desired
- Do feed them in separate areas
- Do spend quality time with them separately
- Do allow them to interact positively if desired
- Do allow them to play with supervision
- Do supervise them at all times for the first several weeks
Following the steps above will result in an easier transition for both the puppy and the older dog. They’re both likely to feel more comfortable with one another and become ‘friends’ faster if you help them get to know each other comfortably. A peaceful home is good for everyone—human and canine alike.
So you’re thinking about getting a new puppy with an older dog in the house and wondering how your old dog will feel about it. Dog training guru Cesar Millan provides great insight into why your old dog may initially be less-than-accepting of a puppy. Understanding this will help you create harmony between them much more quickly.
The nature of dogs is that they don’t raise puppies when they are advanced in age; just like us, they want to raise their kids when they still have the energy to keep up with them. It’s not that the puppies are “obnoxious” to them – it’s just that they have another state of mind – puppy hood vs. senior hood. In order to be around the older dogs, the puppy has to already have his social skills and his energy drained so they will accept him into the group. Think about kids who are raised by older parents or children visiting their grandparents. Those kids are the ones that are able to sit down in grandma’s lap and stay quiet while she reads them a book.
The best thing we can do for the grandparents to coexist with the children is that we have to get the children tired.
Constant supervision is absolutely a must, and when you can’t be there to supervise, tire the puppy out before crating so it feels more natural to rest. Crating a puppy all the time until it is big enough is absolutely the wrong thing. Crating doesn’t create social skills – and social skills are what are going to get him through. Of course always, always consult a professional, and if your gut feeling tells you there’s a real danger for the puppy, then don’t do it. Always listen to your gut feeling.” Read Cesar’s entire post here.
Expanding on Cesar Millan’s advice, Darcie at SitStay.com offers this very specific tactic when getting a new puppy with an older dog already in the home.
Here’s how I’ve always introduced new dogs into my house, pups and older dogs. We all meet outside in a more neutral place and go for a walk. It’s that simple. Everybody is headed in the same direction. And we walk and walk. For at least 40 minutes. No stopping to sniff or pee, should have done that before you left home. Walking, walking, walking. No time to growl or snap, no bad manners, no dogs talking to each other or looking at each other. We’re walking all in the same direction. Dogs get this, they don’t feel threatened when we’re all going the same way.
The new puppy or new dog should always be on a leash, you don’t know them very well yet. Better to be prepared for anything.
Relax on this walk. Breathe normally. Stay calm. It’s a good walk. Don’t concern yourself with problems that haven’t happened. Walk as quickly as the slowest or smallest can go. Little puppies can’t walk fast for a long way, pick her up and carry her every now and then, when you do, walk faster for your adult dog. (It’s always nice to have another person along for this walk but I’ve done it alone lots of times.)
End the walk at the door you normally enter your house through. Everyone goes into the house and you must act like this is the most normal thing ever.”We’re home. Let’s get a drink and some supper.” Let your older dog get a drink, then the pup gets a drink. Then go get something for everybody to eat. Hand feed. Keep the pup on leash.
I like to end the walk with a drink and a meal then a nap for the dogs. Do have a crate and a pen set up before you bring the new dog home. Pup goes into her crate. Your old dog sleeps where she normally does. To learn more about this first walk, click here.
Hopefully this helps you realize that getting a new puppy with an older dog at home isn’t bad or wrong for your old dog. She won’t feel like you’re trying to replace her. She just needs your help controlling the puppy and channeling his energy, much as your mother needs your help when you bring your young children to her house for extended stays.