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How to introduce a puppy to an older dog?

Author: The DogsPlanet.com Team

Introducing a new puppy to your resident dog can be a great cause of anxiety for many dog owners. Will they get on? What if they don’t? Are there set rules on how to do it?

These are all natural questions that go through any owner’s head when they’re thinking about how to introduce a puppy to an older dog. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be difficult. 

With a bit of preparation before you go to pick up your new pup, it can go pretty smoothly and you can be left with two best friends!

Location, location, location

Where is a really important factor when considering introducing a puppy to another dog. Dogs are naturally pack animals and therefore can be very territorial. It’s important that the introduction is done in a neutral space, such as a gated park, a friend’s garden, or any other protected space so that the older dog isn’t inclined to ward off the new puppy.

The meeting should be done in a fenced-off area so that it’s possible for you to safely drop the leash. Dogs can sense your anxiety and any strain on the leash will indicate to them that you’re nervous about them meeting – which is not what you want!

It’s important to stay calm and let the dogs sniff each other. After all, this is a proper doggie hello! It’s also recommended that you don’t hold the new puppy in your arms when you introduce them to the older dog. This could get the meeting off on the wrong foot (or paw) by making your other dog feel jealous.

What to bring

Dogs are not just territorial about their homes, they can also be a bit possessive about their toys. When they first meet, you shouldn’t bring any toys that they could fight over. Let them get to know each other and play, rather than chase a ball or frisbee.

It’s also a good idea to have someone with you when introducing a puppy to an older dog, as they can help keep an eye on the pups and monitor the situation. In a worst-case scenario, they can also help to separate the dogs.

Go for a little walk

If both dogs seem happy after they’ve met, letting them walk side by side is a good next step. Walking is a favorite activity for most dogs, so letting them stroll together is a good way of them getting to know each other whilst doing something fun. 

Make sure each dog is on a separate leash held by a different person. Both leashes should be loose, allowing the pups to sniff each other and get acquainted. 

Signs it’s going well

introducing puppy to older dog

When thinking about how to introduce a puppy to an older dog, there are a few signs to look out for to ensure it’s going well. Pups wanting to play with each other is obviously a good sign. If they bow whilst patting the floor, this is normally an indication they’re wanting to play. Wagging tales are also a sign of happiness, as are a smile and soft barks or yelps.

You may see your puppy rolling around on its back or licking the face of the other dog. These are submissive signs your puppy is giving to the other dog to show them that they’re not a threat and that they’re just having a bit of fun.

It’s important to constantly monitor the situation and read your dog’s body language. Preventing any unwanted behavior makes the meeting a more enjoyable experience for everyone.

What to do when you get home?

introducing a puppy to another dog

After the initial outdoor meeting, you of course need to bring your puppy home. But how is the best way to do this so your older pup doesn’t feel left out or threatened?

A good way is to repeat what you did in the neutral space but now in the yard. Make sure you’ve hidden all the older dog’s toys so there is nothing to fight over. If you can, try not to let both dogs get too over-excited, as this could lead to an innocent game getting out of hand. Separate them regularly to calm them down. 

Once the meeting in the yard has gone well, you need to manage how they can be in a confined home together. The best way to do this is to let the older dog ‘find’ the puppy in their home. This reduces the territorial threat of them actually entering their space. 

Going forward

Normally, most pups are happy to be introduced to another dog as long as it is handled well. Reading both dogs’ body language is really important in preventing any unwanted behavior. Puppies generally have much more energy and want to play a lot of the time. An older dog may be more content with just watching the world go by without a little dog chewing on its ears. Making sure you’re there to play with the puppy gives them both what they want. In the beginning, it’s important to give each dog their own space, including a separate crate for the puppy, so they can get to know each other at their own pace.

Introducing a puppy to an older dog doesn’t have to be a stressful thing. With these simple steps, you can ensure that both are happy and your home is a fun and safe place for everyone.

Have you got any experience introducing dogs? What are your tips? Let us know below!

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