Introducing a new puppy into your home can be an exciting time for you and your family. However, if you have existing pets, you may be concerned about how the new member will get along with them. Therefore it is important to take the right steps and research how to introduce a puppy to an older dog when the right time comes!
The truth is that there will be an adjustment period, and it is essential not to assume that your dogs will get on with the new puppy from the get-go. Taking the time to introduce them carefully, and to supervise them until you are sure that they are safe to be left alone together is important.
You must have realistic expectations. Your family pet is used being ‘top dog’ in the house, and when a new addition comes along, it’s likely that they’ll want to establish a pecking order to ensure things remain that way. Even if your dog has always got along with others, and has never shown any signs of aggression, it’s vital not to take it for granted that they’ll be best friends from the outset.
Are your new puppy and the older dog not getting along?
A young puppy may well irritate your older dog. They bark, nip, and often have a disregard for others’ personal space! Because of this, your older dog may get a little exasperated and want to put the pup in its place.
Puppies have inferior social skills and need to be taught how to behave and communicate with other dogs politely and respectfully. Remember, they have been taken away from their mum and siblings, so they haven’t had time to learn crucial skills or how to interact with other dogs. If your existing dog barks or growls at your pup they are probably telling them not to cross certain lines. A snarl or a snap might mean:
STOP jumping on my head
DON’T steal my food
DON’T bite my ears or tail
Providing the adult dog’s behaviour is appropriate (they shouldn’t actually bite or nip the pup), then you can take this as a sign that all is well, and the puppy will soon begin to understand the rules and social norms of the household.
What to expect between a puppy and an older dog
In the beginning, it’s essential to manage your expectations and expect that your older dog may growl or bark at your new puppy, or move away from it. With careful exposure, after around three to five weeks, the older dogs may start to play with the puppy. Puppies tend to abide by different rules of play than adult dogs, so you can still expect some instances where your older dog needs to tell the younger one to back off. Dogs generally learn quickly how to invite one another to play and what to do if they want play to come to an end. Your pup will become proficient in this language, and the better they understand the rules, the more enjoyable play will be.
Setting up your home for your new puppy
Taking specific precautions before the puppy arrives will help to ensure that your home remains harmonious. Here are some general rules to keep both your dogs safe:
Supervise at all times. Never leave your puppy alone with your adult dog. It’s not fair to expect your older dog to take whatever the puppy decides to throw at it, and you being there can ensure the puppy behaves better or is removed if it’s clear that your older dog is getting upset.
Do allow the dogs to interact. It is important however, that you give ample opportunity for your dogs to get used to one another. So don’t delay in introducing the pair, and make sure there is plenty of supervised time where the two can get to know one another. The more you do this, the sooner the pup will understand the world that he now resides in.
Crates, gates, and escapes!
Investing in a puppy crate can also be a useful idea, as well as installing baby gates so that you can separate the dogs easily if needs be. Allowing your older dog to have a space to retreat to when it gets too much is essential, and will also teach the younger one to be less persistent. You should also ensure that neither dog ends up feeling trapped with one another and set up escape routes for both as well as safe, secure places they can get to. You should also invest time teaching your dogs to immediately go to their beds (or whatever their safe space is) whenever you command it so you can remain in control of escalating situations.
Use punishment sparingly
Dogs respond much better to the encouragement of good behaviour than they do punishment of bad. Try not to tell your older dog off if they growl at your pup. Doing so means you could delay the communication that’s necessary between the puppy and older dog to understand one another and form a bond. Ignore behaviour you don’t like and reinforce the behaviour you do.
Remember that it is your responsibility to your older dog to ensure that he feels as though his home has not been invaded and your duty to your new pup to keep it safe. By using the above as a guide, you can slowly and gently introduce your puppy into the home and look out for warning signs that relations are becoming aggressive and out of hand – intervening when necessary. If your puppy sequels, for example, it could be that your dog has nipped it, and this is unacceptable, and the dogs must be immediately separated.
Other things to consider: How to introduce a puppy to a cat
Introducing a puppy into your home when you have a cat is also a process that takes time and care. It’s a good idea to keep them separate at first and introduce them slowly. You could place a blanket with the puppy’s scent into the cat’s room and vice versa. Then switch the rooms that you’ve kept them in several times before introducing them face to face. The more used to the scents and smells of one another they are, the more amenable they should be. Keep the puppy on a lead when you first introduce them and make sure you supervise direct encounters until you feel assured that the two animals are comfortable in one another’s presence. Always reward both animals for behaving calmly and gently around one another to reinforce the actions you want.
By following the above, you can rest assured that your puppy will be accepted into your home and can enjoy many harmonious days caring for your beloved pets for years to come.
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