Deciding to bring home a new puppy can be exciting, thrilling, and stressful all at once. If you already have another dog (or more) in the home, this introduction of a new family member can be dicey and require extra care and attention on your part. Particularly if you have concerns about your dog based on interactions in the past where your dog may have acted aggressively toward other animals, you should consider how to make the first impression a good one. Here are a few ideas to make the transition of bringing a new puppy home smooth.
Choose Somewhere Neutral
The first meeting of your dog and the new puppy should be done on neutral ground such as a dog park. Your older dog will be naturally protective of his or her own home and will be skeptical of a new puppy’s intrusion, so remove that fear by introducing them somewhere other than your own home. Be sure you choose a relatively calming, quiet area and have another person on hand to help handle each dog in case of any aggression. Speak soothingly to your dog and let the dogs sniff and circle to their heart’s content.
Let Dogs Be Dogs
When dogs meet for the first time, there’s usually a little bit of posturing that goes on. An older dog will likely show a little bit of aggression that’s harmless, such as a low growl, perked ears, or raised hackles initially. Be sure to keep a close eye on this interaction to ensure it doesn’t progress into a harmful territory. Allow your dog and the new puppy to sniff, vocalize, and go through their extensive introductory ritual. A young puppy will likely show signs of submission to an older dog by rolling over. Try to let your dogs interact without much interference at first, unless you notice signs of aggression that could be worrisome. Keep your dogs on their leashes during this initial meeting so you can pull them apart if necessary.
Prepare Your Home Ahead of Time
If you know your dog is protective of certain toys or treats, remove those from the situation before introducing your new puppy. Allow your dog and the new puppy to get to know each other without toys or other items in the way to be fought over. This can be particularly important in the first few days when everyone is on edge and unsure of each other.
The first week or so with a new puppy in the house should be one of vigilance on your part. Don’t crate or kennel your dogs together until you’re absolutely sure they’re comfortable and on friendly terms. Carefully monitor your dogs to watch out for problem behavior such as bullying (knocking down, walking over, or stealing food from a puppy) and fighting. Never let your dogs “fight it out” as a way to control behavior—fighting is a dangerous and even potentially fatal problem you should never allow your dogs to engage in. “Play” fighting is much different and easy to spot, while true aggression should be curtailed immediately.
If you have questions about your dog’s behavior or need a veterinarian for your new puppy, contact us.