April 11, 2019. By J.D. Wolfsberg:
As dog owners, we do our best to keep our dogs active and to give them the attention that they deserve. We hire walkers, go to the dog park, and include them on road trips to make sure that they never feel neglected. With life’s obligations, this level of canine care can be difficult to achieve all the time. I know that we felt that way with our first dog, Liberty. My fiancé proposed that the best solution was to get a puppy to keep Liberty company. The idea of having yet another pet to care for did not intrigue me given the responsibility added to our day-to-day with only one. I managed to resist for 2 years, but eventually caved in and Lincoln was added to our family a year ago.
I was apprehensive to say the least, especially since our first dog was ‘hit or miss’ when interacting with other dogs. To put it kindly, she was very selective of the furry friends she allowed in her pack. Furthermore, Liberty is extremely territorial, so it seemed as though bringing a puppy home would be an impossible task. After speaking with the employees at the animal shelter however, we agreed that introducing them at the shelter, on neutral ground, was the best course of action.
We took it slowly. Luckily, and much to our surprise, Liberty was actually intrigued with the young puppy. The next step was easing her into letting Lincoln into her home and her space, without being aggressive or territorial. There are a number of steps to follow to ensure this goes smoothly for both dogs. If you are thinking about getting a puppy, and have an older dog, then you will want to read this short blog by canine behavioralist and professor of animal sciences, Amber Drake. The article originally appeared on Rover.com and outlines the do’s and don’t’s for a smooth introduction. These are the rules and steps that we followed, and both dogs are happy to be together (most of the time) as a result:
How to Introduce a New Puppy to Your Older Dog
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 yet understand the ‘dog world’ as your older dog does. 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 favorite chews and toys, to avoid territorial behavior.
- Create spaces in your home where both dogs can get away from the other.
- Purchase separate food dishes to prevent possessive aggression.
- Ensure both dogs are up-to-date on 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 leash while another person holds the puppy on a leash. However, 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. 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 engage in playtime 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
What’s off limits?
- 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 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
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.
How to Introduce was originally posted on Rover.com.