If you already have a dog, then you may have thought about getting them a friend or playmate.
But, bringing a new puppy into a home with an established dog can be a big decision, and one that takes a lot of careful consideration.
Your dog has been your baby for so long, that it can be a big change for them when a new puppy is brought into the mix.
Now, your dog may feel that it has to compete for your love and affection. Dogs can be jealous of others getting attention, so it is vital that you introduce a puppy to your dog very carefully and subtly.
Things To Consider Before Bringing Home Another Puppy
We would only recommend bringing a puppy into your dog’s life if they are ready, and show no signs of possessive behavior, defensive, or aggressive behavior.
If your dog is not well socialized, and not very good with other dogs, then bringing a puppy into their home could only exaggerate the problem.
According to the American Kennel Club, most breeders recommend that you should only bring a puppy home when your current dog is at least one to two years old, and out of the puppy/adolescent stage itself.
Otherwise, you can bite off more than you can chew, meaning it’s going to be more than you can handle.
It is also important to note that very elderly dogs may not tolerate having a puppy around them, jumping on them and biting at them.
Ensure that your dog is also completely trained, and reliable. It’s going to be twice as hard to train two dogs at once. This goes for training other than basic obedience training too.
If your dog struggles with recall, or needs more training and socialization, then it is going to be hard to be consistent with them, and with a new puppy.
This leads us onto our next point. If you are bringing another dog home to help yours be less anxious and fearful, then this is not a good idea.
The new puppy can pick up on and replicate the other older dog’s behavior, and may also struggle with fear based behaviors.
In addition to this, if you are thinking of bringing a puppy home to help with your dog’s socialization issues, then this could put your puppy at risk, as dogs can be defensive when threatened.
Don’t forget how hard it is to raise a puppy initially. You will need to be at home a lot, and you will have to supervise the two dogs together a lot at first.
If you have a busy schedule, then getting another dog can be a bad idea.
Finally, ensure you are picking the right breed. Think about what size dog you are going to bring home, and whether you will have enough space for the two of them.
In addition, dogs with similar energy levels tend to get on better, and dogs of the opposite sex can also get along well, as long as you’re willing to neuter or spay them.
If you’ve made all of the right considerations, then you can get your puppy! But, there is a very specific way that you should introduce them to your dog.
How To Introduce A Puppy To Your Dog
Get Them Vaccinated!
The first step is to ensure that both your dog and the puppy’s vaccinations are up to date.
Puppies are susceptible to illnesses and diseases, especially when they are first taken from the litter, and these conditions can easily pass between your dog and the puppy. Ensure that both are wormed also before meeting.
Introduce The Puppy Scent
It is also a good idea to introduce the puppy’s scent to your dog prior to meeting.
Perhaps ask the breeder or shelter for a blanket with the puppy’s smell on it, so that you can take it to your dog.
Allow your dog to smell it and get acquainted to the smell in the home before you have an in person introduction.
Choose A Safe Place
The next step is to find a safe place for the dog and the puppy to meet. This needs to be a neutral location.
It is not a good idea to have a puppy and an older dog meet inside of the home, as some dogs can be territorial when a new dog enters their space.
It is best to take them to a nearby field, or park, or enclosed space for them to interact with one another for the first time.
Your dog can scope out the puppy and engage with them, without feeling threatened or that their home is being invaded.
Meet In A Controlled Environment
Then, it is time for the puppy and dog to meet. This is best done in a controlled manner. What we mean by this is to keep both on a lead, so that you have full control during the meeting.
Have another person handle one of the dogs, and ensure they are both on short, loose leashes so that they don’t feel restricted.
You can also have them go on a walk together, as this often distracts them from one another, and they can start to learn how to coexist together.
If your dog or the puppy gets overly excited, then distract with treats and keep their attention on you.
When calm, allow them to sniff one another, and praise good interactions and behaviors. During this time, always watch out for signals and your dog’s body language.
If they appear stiff, are staring, wide-eyed, or their lips lift up, then this could be a sign that they are going to growl or snap at the puppy.
These are warning signs, so if you see these, then give the dogs a break, and take them away from each other, and try again in a few moments.
Introduce The Puppy To The Home
The next step is to introduce the puppy to your home. You will need to remove your current dog’s belongings such as toys, blankets and beds so that they do not get defensive or territorial.
Make it a neutral environment for both of them. Always remove food bowls, as some dogs can get territorial around food.
When the new puppy comes to the home, it’s a great idea to have a crate.
This ensures that the puppy has a safe place to go to to calm down when things get too much, or when they become overstimulated.
Your dog can go visit them in the crate, and walk away if they are not interested.
You can also alternate with one dog in the crate and one out of the crate.
This gives each of them ample time to explore the home, sniff around, have some affection from you, do some training, and eat without the other bothering them.
Although you want your two dogs to get along, initially it is not a good idea to let them share things. You want to keep things neutral at least for the first few weeks and interactions.
Your established dog can become protective over their food bowls, toys, beds, and other items when the new puppy is around.
Ensure the puppy has their own things such as their own bed, food and water bowls, toys, and their own crate or safe space area to relax.
Keep things separate, and don’t let your established dog get away with trying to take these things for themselves, and vice versa.
How To Ensure Your Puppy And Dog Get Along
Let Them Get To Know Each Other
If you want your dog and puppy to get along, then you have to be patient. It’s a long process that takes a lot of training and guidance for both dogs.
Let your dogs interact in a controlled environment where you are watching and are able to correct behaviors. Let them sniff one another and play together.
Keep Up With Routines
It is also vital to keep up with your routine with your dog.
It is best to do this if you have someone to help you, as they can help you establish a routine with the puppy, but also continue the routine your dog is already used to.
This not only goes for walks, feeding times, but training routines too. Your dog will need to burn more energy than your puppy, as puppies sleep a lot (see also “Should You Let Your Puppy Sleep On Your Bed?“).
Ensure your dog still gets ample mental stimulation through training, as this can also calm excitement and anxious behaviors.
As time goes on, you can also train them together. Your older dog will help your puppy understand basic commands like sit, lie down, stay, and bed.
Your puppy may not respond to these at first, but they can watch and play along.
Maintaining a routine is vital in keeping both of your dogs happy. This also means not changing behaviors that you have always done with your dog.
It is not a great idea to shower your older dog in affection because of the new puppy.
This can be overwhelming for them. Keep things the same as they have always been to make your dog feel more at home and comfortable with the new situation.
Puppies need boundaries. We could shout this from the rooftops sometimes.
Your puppy will get overstimulated from time to time, and dogs have a pack mentality, meaning your dog can echo your puppy’s behaviors too, and stop listening to you.
Ensure that you keep up with training and obedience expectations, but also allow your dogs to rest and relax after interactions in their own designated spaces.
Tips For Introducing A Puppy To Your Dog
The American Kennel Club has some great tips for introducing your dogs. This involves the SUPER method: supervise, understand, pens, expect, and reinforce.
This means that you need to supervise the dogs at all times when they are together until they seem fully adjusted and acclimated to one another (see also “Fear Periods In Dogs“).
As mentioned above, separate their personal items like food and water bowls, and don’t leave food bowls out after they have eaten. In particular, don’t give treats like bones until you know that the two dogs definitely get along.
The next step is to understand that the puppy was your choice, not your dog’s choice.
Some dogs may avoid the new puppy at first, and will not want to interact with them or be bothered by them. Ensure that your old dog gets as much attention and affection as the new puppy.
You will also want to use pens and crates. These can separate the dogs and give them some alone time.
Playing and interacting together constantly can overstimulate them, which can lead to nipping and biting.
Having pens and crates also means that you can give one dog a chance to bond with you while the other is resting or occupied, and then you can swap and bond with the other to establish good relationships.
The ‘e’ in SUPER stands for expect. Expect that your older dog is going to correct your puppy’s behavior. This is done with growls, snaps and other audible noises.
Don’t worry, your dog is not becoming aggressive, they are letting the puppy know what is appropriate behavior and what is not.
If you supervise them both, then these growls will not get out of control.
Finally, reinforce the dogs. Reward your older dog when they correct a puppy, and reward the puppy for good behavior.
It’s a learning curve for them both, so keeping up with training and positive reinforcement will do them both a world of good.
Introducing a puppy to your current dog can be daunting. But, with these tips and our guidance, you can ensure that it goes smoothly.
Just remember that it is a long process, and your dog may not like the puppy’s arrival at first. Be patient, and be understanding that this is a big transition for both the puppy and your established dog.
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