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How to Introduce Your Dog to a New Puppy: A Complete Guide - PawSafe

How to Introduce Your Dog to a New Puppy: A Complete Guide

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

how to introduce dog to a new puppy

Bringing a new puppy home can be exciting for you and your dog. However, it can also lead to a stressful experience if not handled correctly. To introduce a puppy to senior dog requires patience, preparation, and a lot of supervision.

Before bringing a new dog into your home, ensuring that your existing pup is comfortable with other canines is essential. If your pup has never been around other dogs, it is best to start by introducing them to a friend’s mutt. This will help your hound become familiar with the presence of other hounds and learn how to interact with them. It is also essential to ensure that your dog is up to date on all vaccinations and is healthy before introducing them to a new puppy.

As someone who often rescues and fosters canines and as a certified behaviorist, introducing puppies to resident dogs is something I do all the time. However, I will also refer to experts Dr. Patricia McConnell and Ian Dunbar for the best possible guidelines for integrating a new family member.

Dogs are social and emotional animals. While they may not experience emotions like humans, they can exhibit behaviors often interpreted as jealousy, such as seeking to be noticed when their owner is focused on another person or animal.

When bringing in a new pet, person, or object into a canine’s environment, monitoring their behavior and providing positive reinforcement for appropriate reactions is essential. Ensuring that each dog receives individual attention, love, and positive support can help reduce potential conflicts and foster a positive environment for all pets in the household.

Steps To Introducing Your Dog To A New Puppy

New Pointer Puppy meets older white dog for first time

Introducing an existing pooch to a new pup requires careful planning and supervision to ensure a positive and safe interaction. Here are steps to consider when teaching your dog to a new pup:

1. Preparing Your Home

Before bringing a canine friend into a home, preparing the environment to ensure a smooth meeting for your current dog and the new addition is essential.

To do this, create a designated space for the new canine and remove any hazardous items that could harm them, such as toxic houseplants, electrical cords, and cleaning supplies. Ensure to secure any loose items that could be chewed or swallowed, such as shoes, socks, and small toys.

Establish a routine, as canines thrive on consistency. Schedule their feeding, potty breaks, and playtime to help the new puppy adjust to their new home and make training easier.

2. Choose the Right Puppy

Adding a new pup to your home can multiply the charm and joy of dog ownership. However, choosing the right hound is crucial. Here are a few things to consider when selecting a new pup:

  • Learn the new pup’s history and look for one with a social and outgoing character. This will help ensure the canine and your pooch get along well.
  • Consider the size of the puppy concerning your hound. If your dog  is small, a large puppy may be intimidating. Similarly, a tiny dog may be at risk of injury if you choose a large-breed puppy.
  • Think about the energy level of the current dog and look for a puppy with a similar level of energy. This will help ensure that they can play together without one of them getting too tired or frustrated.
  • Consider the breed of dog that you already have and try to pick a breed that is a good match. For example, if you have a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, getting another friendly and smaller breed is a good choice, such as a Havanese or a Beagle. If you have a high-energy Border Collie, look for another herding dog. 

In our article on why dogs are aggressive to some dogs and not others, we discuss why some breeds may not get along.

3. Initial Introduction

dogs getting along on a walk in nature

How you introduce your puppy to the household depends a lot on the personality of the dog you already have. Many dogs are friendly to puppies. In fact, most dogs give puppies preferential treatment. This means that even if they are aggressive toward other adult dogs, they will still tolerate puppies (but that doesn’t mean you should get a puppy, as two dogs can become a problem later on).

However, this isn’t always the case. If you have a dog that really does not like other dogs, then don’t get a puppy. It’s not going to be a situation that benefits either of them. If your dog is very friendly with other dogs, then introducing a new puppy really shouldn’t be an issue. It can be as simple as bringing your puppy home and letting them meet.

But if you are not sure if your older dog will get along with your puppy or not, then it’s best to err on the side of caution and do it properly and carefully.

In this case, take things slow and carefully manage the initial meeting. Here are a few tips to help make the launch go smoothly:

Choose Neutral Ground

Let the dogs meet  in a place that neither is familiar with, such as a park or a friend’s backyard. This can help prevent your dog from feeling territorial and reduce the chances of aggressive behavior.

Don’t Use a Leash if You Can Help It

The issue of whether to use a leash or not when introducing dogs is difficult. The problem is that many dogs are leash aggressive. This means that when they are on a leash, they may act a lot more aggressive than off leash. So, ideally, if you are sure your dog won’t bite, don’t put them on  leash. Allow the dogs to sniff each other in a neutral environment.

If you are really worried your older dog may bite the new puppy, invest in using a muzzle to prevent accidents. However, if you really think your dog may bite or be aggressive, it’s better that you don’t bring in a puppy at all.

What you should see is a lot of appeasement behaviors from the puppy. This means they may:

  • Pee submissively;
  • Lay on their back and expose their belly;
  • Keep their tail low and wagging; and
  • Lick the older dogs face.

The adult dog may stand still over the puppy or they may ignore them. This is fine and normal. But be ready to block any overly aggressive behavior by stepping between the dogs and redirecting the older one, or calling the puppy away. 

Stay Calm and Relaxed

Dogs take a lot of their cues from you. If you are tense and nervous over the meeting going well, your dog may think there is a threat and be a lot less friendly with the new puppy. It’s vital that you stay relaxed throughout this process. Keep a close eye on the dogs and stay ready to redirect their attention away from each other, but don’t give the impression that you feel anxious. This anxiety can transfer to the dogs, and that’s never good.

Separate the Dogs

After a few seconds of sniffing, separate the doggies and give them a break. This can help prevent overstimulation and reduce the chances of any negative interactions.

Repeat the Process

If the initial meeting  goes well, repeat the process a few times over the next few days. Gradually increase the time the dogs spend together, constantly monitoring the interaction closely.

4. Supervised Play Sessions

Bring the pups together in a safe and controlled environment. This allows them to get to know each other and establish a positive relationship. Allow them to sniff and get comfortable in each other’s presence.

Make sure to provide plenty of toys and treats to keep them occupied and distracted from any potential conflicts. Keep the play sessions short, and always end them positively. If one of the dogs seems uncomfortable, nervous, or aggressive, separate them and try again later.

Keep an eye on any resource guarding. For example, your dog may have a favorite toy or treat and if your puppy comes near it, it can cause your dog to growl at the puppy and even snap or bite. So if there is any tension over high-value items, pick up the items and remove them from the situation.

5. Creating Positive Associations

Creating positive associations is crucial for both canines to feel comfortable and happy around each other. To make positive interactions, bring treats to the establishment and give them to both pups.

This will create a positive association and help them associate each other with good things. Ensure to supervise the interaction closely and intervene if necessary. 

Praise and reward both hounds for good behavior during the establishment and gradually increase their time together. This will help them get used to each other’s presence and prevent negative associations from forming.

6. Establishing Boundaries

It is important to establish boundaries from the beginning. This will help prevent potential conflicts and ensure a smooth transition for both dogs. To set limits, give your new pup and your old dog separate spaces.

Separation can be done by using baby gates or crates to create separate areas for each animal. It will help prevent territorial issues and give each animal a space to retreat if they feel overwhelmed.

Also, establish clear rules. For example, never allow either dog to sniff the other dog’s food bowl, bed, or toys. Make sure that play never gets too rough. And work on obedience training in both dogs separately and together, so they always know to focus on you and what behavior you expect from them.

7. Balancing Attention

It’s natural to want to shower the new mutt with attention, but this can lead to jealousy and resentment from your hound. Dogs are known to exhibit jealous behavior, like snapping towards the threat.

To avoid this, give equal attention to both dogs. This means giving both back scratches and playing with each of them separately as well as together.

8. Monitoring Progress

Monitoring their progress is important once you’ve established your hound and a new youngster. This will help ensure they are getting along and that the launch was successful.

Monitoring progress should look more like observing the dog’s body language. Are they relaxed or tense? Are they wagging their tails or growling? Understanding their body language will help determine if they are comfortable with each other. 

Encourage playtime to help both dogs bond and become more comfortable with each other, but supervise and be ready to intervene if it becomes too rough. Feed the dogs separately to avoid any food-related conflicts and separate sleeping areas until they are okay with spending time together.

Remember, bringing in a new hound to your pup can take time and patience. With proper monitoring and supervision, they can become great friends and companions.

What To Avoid When Introducing Your Dog To A New Puppy

older dog playing with new puppy

Introducing a new puppy to your existing dog requires careful consideration to ensure a smooth transition. Here are some things to avoid during the introduction process:

Rushing the Introduction

Take your time with the initial meeting. Allow both dogs to approach each other at their own pace. Keep the leash loose to reduce tension.

Unsupervised Interaction

Avoid leaving the new puppy and existing dog alone together until you are confident in their relationship. Supervise their interactions to prevent any potential conflicts.

Forcing Interaction

Don’t force the dogs to interact if one or both of them seem uncomfortable. Allow them to observe and approach each other voluntarily.

Ignoring Body Language

Pay attention to the body language of both dogs. Signs of stress or discomfort include growling, raised hackles, showing the whites of the eye, avoidance, or excessive submissive behavior. If you see these signs, intervene and give the dogs some space.

Neglecting Individual Time

Make sure to spend quality time with each dog individually. This helps to prevent jealousy and reinforces your bond with each of them.

Not Establishing a Safe Space

Ensure that each dog has a designated safe space where they can retreat if they feel overwhelmed. This could be a crate, a separate room, or a specific area of the house.

Unequal Attention

Refrain from giving all your attention to the new puppy and not paying attention to your existing dog. This can lead to jealousy and potentially create a negative association with the new arrival.

Overstimulation

Be mindful of overstimulating the dogs, especially the new puppy. Introduce them in a calm environment and limit the excitement until they become more comfortable with each other.

Uncontrolled Environment

Introduce the dogs in a controlled environment. A neutral territory is often best. Avoid introducing them in a confined space where one might feel trapped.

Skipping Training

Be sure to complete basic training and obedience exercises. Both dogs should be well-behaved and respond to commands, which can help in managing their interactions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I help my dog adjust to a new puppy?

When launching a new puppy, giving your existing dog  plenty of attention and affection is essential. We recommend one-on-one time with each doggo to help them feel secure and loved. Establishing separate feeding areas and sleeping spaces for each mutt is also an excellent idea to prevent territorial issues.

What should I do if my dog is aggressive towards a new puppy?

If your older dog is aggressive towards a new doggy, separating them immediately is essential. Try positive reinforcement, rewarding your pooch for being calm whenever the new pup is around. If aggression persists, consult a professional trainer or behaviorist to address any aggression issues.

How long does it take for dogs to get used to each other?

The time it takes for canines to get used to each other can vary depending on the dogs’ personalities and temperaments. It’s essential to be patient and allow the hound to adjust to each other at their own pace. Some canine friends may become fast friends, while others may take several weeks or months to become comfortable with each other.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when introducing a new puppy?

One common mistake when introducing a new puppy is allowing the dogs to meet in a confined or enclosed space, such as a small room or a crate. This can create a stressful situation and lead to territorial behavior. It’s also important to avoid forcing the canines to interact if they are uncomfortable with each other.

Final Thoughts

Introducing a new puppy to your pup is a process that requires patience and careful planning.

Supervising your hounds during the initial set-in motion and throughout the first few weeks is essential. Allow them to get to know each other at their own pace, and don’t force them to interact if they’re uncomfortable.

Be sure to give your existing canine plenty of love and attention during this time, as they may feel jealous or left out. And remember to allocate your new puppy plenty of training and socialization to help them become a well-adjusted family member.

References:

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe

Author

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.