There are hundreds of online videos of dogs being introduced to a new puppy that’s moving in. The people walk excitedly into the living room with a big cardboard box. Excited adult dogs push their noses into the boxes to sniff the cutest puppy you’ve ever seen. The two dogs immediately start romping and playing all over the room. It’s adorable!
But is that the best way to bring a new puppy home? Well, no. Not all dogs will be so welcoming of additional dogs suddenly appearing in their territory.
So, what can you do to give both dogs the best chance of living together peacefully? We at K9 Basics recommend a gradual process that starts outside and moves inside the home with a set of firm rules and routines.
Your Older Dog’s Personality and Temperament
Your first thought before getting a new puppy should be your current dog. Is this a young dog with a lot of energy? A strong working breed? A quiet couch potato? Are they territorial? Can they tolerate another dog?
Remember that puppies are not yet socialized and have no manners. They play roughly, and they bite. They’re used to interacting with their littermates, chewing, jumping, wrestling, and rolling around.
Older dogs that have outgrown the feisty puppy phase may or may not have the patience for that behavior. If your dog is playful, great! But if your older dog’s hips hurt and their back bothers them, they won’t want anything to do with a puppy jumping in their face. Imagine you’re feeling sick, and you’ve got a slamming headache. In marches the third-grade class with their recorders. And you’re thinking, “Oh no, not today!”
If your senior dog is in the advanced stage of an illness or poor physical condition, it may not be the right time for introducing a puppy into the family. Your current dog needs your full attention.
Choosing the Right Puppy
If your adult dog is a Chihuahua, bringing home a Mastiff puppy that will grow into a 200-pound behemoth may not be a great idea. Age, size, energy level, breed, socialization, territorial behavior — there are several things to consider when choosing a puppy compatible with your older dog.
Make sure both dogs are healthy and vaccinated. You’ll want them free of parasites or anything contagious before they meet.
Puppy-Proofing the House
Older dogs have outgrown the “chew everything in sight” phase. A puppy has not. So get those shoes off the floor if you don’t want them destroyed. Also, things that belong to your current dog — toys, blankets, and such — should be moved out of the puppy’s reach. You don’t want your dog to be upset with the puppy invading their territory!
To Each Their Own
To keep the peace, get your puppy their own things — bed, toys, food bowls, and other items. Make the other dog’s things off-limits to prevent any resource-guarding issues.
Create enough space in the house for each dog to occasionally have some alone time. Using a crate may be especially helpful for the puppy when you’re not around to supervise.
Introducing the Puppy’s Scent
Before bringing the puppy home, let your dog smell an item with their scent on it so the puppy will become familiar.
Introductions need to be done with a lot of supervision. Even usually friendly dogs can become irritated with a new puppy in the territory.
You need to remain calm throughout the process. Your older dog will pick up on any stress you’re radiating. If you’re relaxed, your dog will be, too.
Meeting on Neutral Territory
The first meeting should always take place in a neutral environment. Some dogs are very territorial and think, “This is my home, my bed, my food bowl, my house. You’re outside of the pack. I don’t know who you are.” A neutral location eliminates that issue.
If there’s a barrier available, such as a chain link fence, let the two sniff each other while they’re on different sides. If that goes well, let them meet barrier-free while leashed so they can conduct a more thorough sniffing. Separate them if there is any sign of aggression.
Taking a Walk
The next step is to take a walk with the dogs together. They can explore the area together in the presence of other dogs.
Home Habits: Introducing the Routine
Starting Outside of the House
Now you can bring the puppy home. But before you go inside, let the two dogs spend time together outside the house. You’re getting into the older dog’s territory now, so proceed slowly.
And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for! Bring the puppy inside while the older dog is still outside and distracted. It will help them accept the puppy more readily when they come in.
Reassuring the Older Dog
Your older dog suddenly has to learn to share their home and favorite humans. So for a while, spend quality time together. Reassure them that they are still your baby and that their things are still theirs. Support the older dog while the puppy is still learning discipline and rules. Meanwhile, supervise them and arrange activities and play so both can understand that they can enjoy each other’s company.
Dogs thrive on routines, which you established with your older dog long ago. A new puppy can disrupt that. So work on teaching the puppy. For each routine, tend to your older dog first (e.g., greetings, feeding, or preparing for walks).
Making the Older Dog Your Assistant Trainer
As you train your puppy, seek help from the resident expert — your older dog. Puppies will imitate older dogs’ behavior and make training effortless. Your older dog will become a great older sibling. The young puppy will eventually learn to calm down, follow commands, enjoy the routines, and be a good pack member. Your older dog will be less stressed and more confident about having another pack member.
Need Assistance? Contact Our K9 Basics Professional Dog Trainers!
Introducing senior dogs and new puppies is sometimes more complicated than expected. If one or both dogs becomes overly aggressive or stubborn, it’s safest to call on a professional dog trainer, such as the talented team at K9 Basics.
We will help you bring your dogs together safely and teach you how to maintain a contented pack, so you and your dogs will enjoy a happy and healthy life in your home. Contact us for an appointment, and we will be ready to help!
Give us a call at (866) 592-2742 or, if you’re from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, or New York, visit us at 131 Kenilworth Road, Marlton, New Jersey 08053, to learn more about our dog training services. Also, browse our blog and social media for various topics about dogs and their lives with us!
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