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 understand the ‘dog world’ the way your older dog does yet. 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 favourite chews and toys, to avoid territorial behaviour.
- Create spaces in your home where both dogs can get away from the other.
- Buy separate food dishes to prevent possessive aggression.
- Ensure both dogs are up-to-date with 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 lead while another person holds the puppy on a lead. Do 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 the meeting. 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 play 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
- 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 to each other 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
The Bottom Line
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.