Learning how to introduce a puppy to an older dog is a key step for bringing home a new furry friend. Your older dog might get jealous and territorial if a new dog enters the family, so you need to be patient. If you rush a new puppy into the family, that could only cause added stress for both dogs. So, it’s important that you take necessary precautions when welcoming a new puppy into your home.
Introduce Your Puppy to Your Older Dog on Neutral Ground
The best way to introduce a new dog to your older dog is to have them meet on neutral ground. Your home is your dog’s territory. So, they’re likely more defensive over their own territory than they would be over a public space. A park or a neighbor’s yard could be a great place to start. That way, your dogs can meet each other before living under the same roof.
Start with a Fence Meeting
If your dog often acts out around other dogs, a fence meeting might be your best bet. This means having one dog on each side of a fence or a tennis net. This provides a small barrier for the dogs just in case one of them acts out. This is especially important if one dog is much larger than the other. You wouldn’t want a large dog accidentally hurting their new friend if they get overly excited.
Walk Them Together
Once they’ve had a chance to see each other and sniff each other through a barrier, you can slowly bring them close together. Taking them for a walk together is a great place to start. Have a friend help you walk both of them so each of you can control one dog. First, walk them together, but still keep a small distance in between them. Keep their leashes loose while walking to avoid tension. Then, after about 5 to 10 minutes of walking, you can walk closer together and give them a chance to finally meet each other properly.
Let Them Sniff
While keeping their leashes loose, allow the two dogs to sniff each other. At this point, they will likely sniff each other from head to rear end as a proper greeting. You can let them sniff each other for about 10 minutes before giving them time to themselves again. After all, you don’t want your dogs to get sick of each other already. Hopefully, by the end of these steps, your dogs have gotten to know each other well, making them more relaxed and less territorial.
Introduce Your Puppy to Your Older Dog at Home
The next step is bringing your puppy into your home, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. You still have to take it slow and be patient with both dogs. Remember, this is your older dog’s territory, so they might not be willing to share.
Hide Your Older Dog’s Favorite Belongings
Before bringing your new dog inside, there are some things you should prepare. First, put away your dog’s favorite belongings temporarily, such as their most cherished squeaky toys and their bed. These are items that your older dog might be particularly territorial over, so you’ll want to make sure your new dog doesn’t mess with those items at first. Instead, you’ll want to have new toys that your puppy can call their own. Your puppy should also have their own food and water bowls that are separate from your other dog’s dishes.
Additionally, you should create “safe spaces” in your home where your dogs can get some alone time away from each other. This could include a crate, a play pen, or a gated room. Your older dog probably already knows where their safest places around the house are, but you’ll probably need to show them to your new puppy.
Let Your Puppy Explore on Their Own First
To avoid any unnecessary aggression from your older dog, you should let your puppy explore their new home on their own. You can keep your older dog in the yard during this time or have someone walk them on their own to keep them busy. Make sure your older dog doesn’t see you bring the puppy inside without them. That way, your puppy can walk around their home without any added stress.
When your puppy seems comfortable in their new surroundings, you should let your older dog back inside. It’ll be much less stressful for your dog if the puppy is already inside as opposed to them watching you bring the puppy in. At first, make sure you monitor your puppy and older dog whenever they’re together. After all, they’ll still need time to get used to each other.
If your dog is showing signs of discomfort, your puppy might not be able to pick up on it yet. Fur standing on end, growling, snarling, or excessive stares are all signs that your older dog is unhappy with the new puppy. If your puppy doesn’t give your dog space when they show these signs, it’s your job to keep the puppy away. Both dogs will need time to learn each other’s boundaries.
It can be frustrating if your two dogs don’t get along right away. Not all dog siblings are best friends, and many of them take more time to get used to other dogs than expected. So, don’t rush anything. If either dog needs extra space from the other, respect their wishes. If they want to play with each other or sleep near each other, they will eventually do that on their own terms.
Behaviors You Should Avoid
Introducing two dogs might sound easy in theory, but there are a lot of mistakes that dog parents often make. Small mistakes could lead to behavioral problems for one or both of your dogs. So, their first meeting is crucial to helping them get along in the future.
Here are some things you should avoid when introducing two dogs:
- Don’t hold your puppy in your arms during the first meeting.
- Don’t force the two dogs to be near each other.
- Don’t allow the two dogs to fight.
- Don’t let your older dog bully your puppy.
- Don’t let them share a crate.
All the above mistakes could lead to added aggression in the future. Holding a dog during their first meeting with another dog is a huge problem that dog parents often forget. When you hold a dog, they usually feel like they’re bigger than the other dog, which could cause aggressive or dominant behaviors. If you allow your dogs to fight or bother each other, those could become normal behaviors for them.
Instead of these mistakes, allow both your dogs to have plenty of time to themselves. Spend quality time with each dog individually and don’t favor one over the other. If they need to retreat to their crate for alone time, respect that and don’t try to bother them in their crate. Also, for the first few weeks, you should always monitor the two dogs’ time together. And when your two dogs are together, always try to stay calm. If you’re feeling stressed or frustrated, they might notice and act out because of it.
Caring for a new puppy is never easy, so every step includes added patience. That all starts from the moment you bring them home and introduce them to your other dog. Learning how to introduce a puppy to an older dog is crucial for keeping everyone content. Both dogs are important family members, so make sure they both get plenty of love and affection throughout the entire transition.