Introducing A Puppy To My Existing Dog
Bringing home a new pet is an especially exciting time for your family. For many households, a new addition may not necessarily be the first. In the midst of the excitement of the impending arrival of a new puppy, something that needs to be considered is your existing pet and a game plan for your preparations.
If after careful consideration, you have opted to introduce a new furry family member to your home with an existing pet, you must have a plan for the initial introduction and beginning stages of co-habitation to set you (and them) up for success.
Have Realistic Expectations
While you and your family may be excited for the arrival of a new puppy, the same cannot be said for an existing dog. It is important that you have realistic expectations around the new relationship between your dogs. It is normal for your dogs to not immediately be best friends. Like human relationships, these things can take time.
It is also important to note that your existing pet may show irritability or seemingly aggressive behaviours – puppies are still learning boundaries and can be especially obnoxious and unrelenting for an older pet. Puppies cannot read the room. They do not yet possess the ability to pick up on many different social cues.
Growls, snarls, and some dominating type body language may be prevalent in this new union as your dog teaches your puppy the ropes and acceptable doggy behaviour. This is normal.
Preparation Is Key
Set yourself up for success and make the necessary preparations prior to the arrival of your puppy. This will ensure you have a better chance of harmony in the household especially as your dog and new puppy begin to build their relationship.
Arranging designated, separate space in your home so that your dogs can eat freely is especially important. Also, setting up separate spaces for your dogs to rest and retreat (particularly for your existing pet) can be advantageous – we all need some alone time, and this will be especially true for your existing dog who may require some time out from an overbearing young puppy.
Something else to consider is the area that your pets will interact. Before your new puppy is due to come home, remove any toys, chews, or bones (or any high value items) that belong to your dog. Dogs at times can be possessive and leaving prized items around the home can result in a dispute.
Additional Note: Your puppy may not be fully vaccinated yet so to ensure the health of your new arrival; be sure your existing pet is up to date with all shots and wormed.
Some dogs will be excited meeting a new puppy, others may not.
It is important that the first meeting is in a calm and controlled environment. We recommend having two handlers to ensure that each dog is 100% controlled during the initial interaction and having each one on a loose lead can be advantageous.
If possible, arranging the first meeting on neutral ground is advised. If this is not possible then be sure to choose a space in your home or property that does not contain your existing dogs prized items such as toys, food bowl or bedding or anything that dogs may compete for.
Remove anything that may spark possessive behaviour.
Sniffing through a fence or parallel walking can also be a nice alternative for a meet and greet.
Ongoing Interactions at Home
For the beginning stages of co-habitation, close supervision is of the upmost importance. The initial stages of their relationship are key to setting a solid foundation for your dogs to have a good relationship moving forward.
For the first few weeks, your dog and puppy should be kept in separate areas if you are unable to safely supervise. Some dogs don't tolerate puppies at all and may have over-the-top reactions that could harm the puppy. Your puppy will test your existing dog and if pushed too far your dog can react untoward which may result in injury or at the very least, a big step back in their progress toward a good relationship. It is also important to keep them separate so that your existing pet can have some quiet time, undisturbed.
Provided your dog has good social skills don’t be upset if it does reprimand some of your puppies behaviour. If your dog has good social skills and healthy levelling your older dog will start to teach your puppy what is acceptable behaviour and what isn’t. If you intervene all the time your puppy may not learn when enough is enough and that can be harmful to their relationship in the future. Again this is dependent on your current dogs levelling (some dogs can reprimand too severely for young puppies and this should not be allowed to continue) Only when you are 100% confident that they have established a healthy relationship, can they play together unsupervised, but not before.
Despite living in a multi-dog home, each dog will still require individual attention from you.
It is important that you have one on one time with both so that your older dog still gets some undivided attention from you and so that you can build an important relationship with your new puppy. If not, puppy will start to take direction from the older dog and you run the risk of becoming insignificant. This will mean that you will need to invest plenty of time, one on one with your dogs to train, walk and play.
Your puppy will obviously demand more attention while you train, house train, expose and socialise so be mindful to dedicate time to your older dog away from your puppy to ensure they are still receiving your love, time, and care.
Final thoughts; If you take the time to consider how you will introduce your pets and how they are permitted to interact during the beginning stages of their relationship, you will help build a strong foundation for them to have a wonderful relationship in the future.
Considering a second pet? Click here to read our blog on [Should I Get A Second Dog; What Is The Right Thing To Do?]
Gold Coast Dog Trainers, Found By The Hound can help you navigate this time. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our team.