Proper Ways To Introduce a New Puppy To An Older Dog
This article is contributed by guest writer, Alec Littlejohn (member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers).
Bringing a new puppy into your home can be an exciting time. However, it’s important to remember that not all dogs will react positively to a newcomer. Especially if your older dog is not used to sharing their territory and toys.
But with careful planning and some basic ground rules, the introduction process can go smoothly for all parties involved. In this post, we’ll discuss how to make the introduction as stress-free as possible for both your puppy and adult dog.
First Impressions Are Important
It’s no secret that first impressions are important. And when it comes to introducing a new puppy to an older dog, you want to make sure that everything goes smoothly.
After all, you don’t want your furry friend to get the wrong idea about the new addition to the family. One way to help ensure a positive first meeting is to use a neutral environment.
This means choosing a location where your older dog can approach the puppy or have the puppy approach them without feeling territorial. This will help to prevent any unwanted tension or conflict from the start.
Another important tip is to make sure that both dogs are on a leash during the initial meeting. This will help you remain in control if things don’t go as planned. It’s also a good idea to have someone else present to help you keep an eye on things. This way, you can focus on the dogs and their body language.
Finally, remember to go slowly. This is not a race. You want to take your time and let the dogs get used to each other’s scent and presence. Allow them to sniff each other and get comfortable with one another before moving on to the next step.
If everything goes well and there are no signs of aggression from either dog, you can proceed to bring them both home.
How To Manage Your New Home Environment
Now that you’ve made the first impression with your puppy and older dog, it’s time to start thinking about managing your new home environment.
One thing you’ll want to be mindful of is resource guarding. This is when a dog becomes possessive of certain items, like food or toys. In the early stages of your two dogs getting familiar with one another inside your home, it’s best to pick these things up and put them out of sight.
Most dogs aren’t big fans of sharing, and puppies don’t know any better than to grab and play with things your older dog may deem theirs. This isn’t to say that all dogs don’t like sharing or that dogs can’t learn to share toys or other belongings. They’re simply more likely to be protective of things they consider “theirs” and can lead to problems if not managed correctly.
It’s normal to see your older dog raise their lip and maybe even let out a quiet growl. Since your puppy hasn’t learned proper social skills quite yet, it’s okay to let your older dog be their teacher; within reason, of course. However, suppose you notice any aggressive lunging or snapping that’s clearly focused on harming rather than getting them to back up. In that case, you’ll absolutely want to stop this right away.
Another way to help manage the space in your home is to give each dog a safe place they can feel is “theirs”. The best way to do this and section off different areas of your home is to use gates or pens. Then, simply give both your dogs a tasty treat like a stuffed Kong and let them relax in their own space.
This helps ensure you always have something you can do to de-escalate a situation. Or, simply give your older dog a break from your rambunctious puppy.
It’s also a good idea to ensure that each dog has their own belongings. Your puppy shouldn’t be taking toys from your older dog that they’ve deemed theirs for years. Making sure both dogs have their own stuff can be a big help in keeping the peace.
Always Reward Good Behavior From Both Dogs
One of the most important things to remember when introducing a new puppy to an older dog is always rewarding good behavior.
This means if your older dog is being tolerant and patient with the puppy, make sure to give them lots of praise and treats. The same goes for your puppy if they’re being calm and not jumping all over the older dog.
Some examples of behavior you’d want to reward that isn’t necessarily obvious are if they’re lying down, resting beside one another. If they’re playing with toys together without conflict. Or, if your puppy sees your older dog isn’t interested in playing right now and leaves them alone instead of continuing to bug them.
By rewarding good behavior, you’re encouraging both dogs to continue behaving in a way that’s positive and constructive.
Things To Teach Your Puppy
Crate training is often a go-to that many dog trainers recommend. When done correctly, a crate becomes a place where your puppy is happy to rest. In general, a crate is a valuable tool that can help keep things peaceful in your home.
Of course, you should always give your puppy some exercise before putting them in their crate. Otherwise, they’ll be restless and more likely to whine and cry until they’re let out.
Also, if you didn’t teach this behavior to your older dog, it’s a great idea to train your new puppy to have a “place”. This is generally where their bed stays, or will stay, in your home and is an excellent behavior to teach a young puppy.
This way, if your puppy is ever being too bothersome for your older dog, you can tell them to go to their place to leave them alone. It’s not a punishment place, more of a place where it’s understood they need to have a break and cool off.
Bringing a new puppy into your home is an exciting time with many challenges. However, by being prepared and having a plan, you can set both your new puppy and older dog up for success.
Remember to take things slow, keep an eye on body language, and reward good behavior from both dogs. With a bit of patience and training, you’ll have two happy dogs that get along great in no time!
Carmen BatchJune 10, 2022 at 4:00 PM
This is a great idea. I like this site.