Introducing a new puppy to your home is an exciting event, but you might feel a little anxious, especially if you have an older dog at home. Your worries would be valid as dogs are territorial creatures who wouldn’t always be willing to just let a new puppy in on the “pack.”
It’s possible, however, to foster a harmonious environment with a new pup around. You just have to know what to expect and take certain steps to take to make the transition as smooth as possible. It would take some time and a lot of patience, but bringing home a second puppy isn’t all that bad. Follow these steps and you can pull it off with no one getting bit or scratched in the process.
Before the Introduction
Puppy-Proof Your Home.
Before introducing a new puppy to your home, create a safe and secure environment for the meeting. This means putting anything that might be dangerous like electrical cables, breakable glass, or cleaning materials out of reach.
Puppies are naturally curious and you’d want to prevent the habit of them playing with objects they shouldn’t be playing with so keep phones, shoes, and other valuable items safely hidden as well. Make sure garbage bins are properly sealed. It would also be a good idea to set up baby gates or pens if you want a safe, confined space for the puppy.
Put Away Your Older Dog’s Stuff.
Your new puppy playing with your older dog’s favorite toy is likely to get things started on the wrong foot (or paw). Your older dogs will be more likely to exhibit territorial behavior if the new puppy stumbles upon and plays with their stuff so keep these away from the area where you will confine the puppy.
Visit the Pet Store.
With a new puppy around, you’d want to pick up a few things. A crate would help in house training the new puppy. You could also use a collar and a leash, food bowls, chew toys, and grooming tools. And of course, don’t forget the puppy food and some special treats!
Visit the Vet.
Before introducing a new puppy to your current dog, both of them have to be perfectly healthy. Make sure the puppy and the older dog are both up to date with their vaccine shots. Take them separately and not together in the same car.
During the Introduction
Meet on Neutral Ground.
The first interaction between the new puppy and old dog should be on neutral ground, meaning, outside your home. This way, your older dog wouldn’t feel protective and the young puppy wouldn’t feel threatened or fearful. Have them meet in a park, a neighbor’s yard, or any safe space. Carrying the puppy in your arms is a huge DON’T, as cited by The Dog People, and so is forcing the dogs together.
Do Parallel Walking.
Walk both dogs on a leash parallel to each other, with two people holding the leashes loosely but separately. Allow the dogs a safe distance at first and see how they would react to each other’s presence.
If they show interest in each other, you may hold the leashes a little more loosely so they’re free to play with each other. Positive signs would include sniffing, licking, or rolling over.
Offer treats if the interaction is positive. Interrupt the interaction if either of the dogs shows aggression. Keep the initial interaction brief. Also, remember to stay calm. Dogs can sense anxiety and tension and this could affect their disposition as well.
Introduce them at Home.
The next step of introducing a new puppy to your current dog is to repeat their meeting on home ground. Have them meet in the yard, exercising the same caution with the loose leashes. Call one of them to you from time to time or if they get too excited. If you have more than one older dog, get them acquainted with the puppy one at a time and not at once to avoid scaring the puppy.
Separate Them First.
When it’s time to bring the puppy home, have someone take your older dog outside to play and have the puppy inside the house by the time he gets back. At first, have them in separate parts of the house, divided by a baby fence or keep the in separate a crate. Give the dogs enough time to get used to each other’s scent. If your adult dog displays aggressive behavior, pull him away.
Expert dog trainer Cesar Millan stresses one important thing when introducing a new puppy to your current dog: An older dog would have a different state of mind and energy level compared to a puppy. While your pup will see everything as brand new and will be excited all the time, an adult dog would be wary. Separation and controlled interaction are absolutely necessary for keeping interactions positive.
After the Introduction
Continue Monitored Interaction
All interactions between the dogs should be supervised in the first two weeks. If the dogs seem friendly with each other, you can take down the baby fence or let them out of their crates to play for a few minutes a day. Give them treats and praises with every positive interaction.
Feed Them Separately.
Don’t feed the older dog and the puppy together in the first few weeks. Feed them in separate rooms, out of sight of each other. After two weeks, you can try handing them their food in the same room. They will gradually feel comfortable eating next to each other.
Establish Routine for the New Puppy.
The new puppy would of course require individual attention. Spend quality time training, walking, and playing with the new puppy. Take it exploring around the neighborhood. Let the puppy socialize with people and other dogs, as recommended by the American Kennel Club.
Keep Spending Quality Time With Older Dogs.
With a new puppy at home, you have to make sure that you keep giving your older dog the same amount of time and affection as you did before. Go on with your regular walking, training, and play times. This way, your older dog wouldn’t see the puppy as a threat.
Almost no dog will welcome a puppy without a fuss, as proven by Smart Dog University founder Laurie Luck, who’s introduced over a dozen puppies to her own dogs as part of her job. But with adequate supervision and by taking things slow, you can help foster harmonious relationships between an older dog and your new puppy. Scheduled separation times are also very essential because your dogs also need to take a break from each other from time to time--not unlike us human beings.