Introducing your new puppy to your current dogs
Puppy or new dog introductions can be a little nerve-wracking, especially if you already have an older family dog. Here are some useful tips to help you introduce your newest family member to your existing pets and help them establish a new friendship!
Before introducing your new puppy or adult dog to your existing pet family, make sure that all their vaccinations are up to date. It is also a good idea to deworm and de-flea both the new and existing pets before you introduce them.
- Meet in a neutral location
The best place to introduce new dogs to each other is at a neutral location. Pick a place close to your home or at a nearby park for their first interaction. This will reduce any territorial behaviours and allow them to engage without your existing pet/s feeling like their space is being encroached on. Ensure that you have one person available per pet just in case they need to be separated.
- Remove your current pets’ belongings
After their initial meetup outdoors, it’s time to move the introductions inside. In this scenario, you’ll want to create a neutral environment at home and avoid any potential conflict areas. Remove your existing pet/s’ toys, treats, bowls, bed, and other items they may become possessive over in the presence of your new dog.
- Make the experience a positive one
Remember not to focus all your attention on the new pet. Your existing pets need to know that this newcomer brings positive vibes with them. Your existing pets should be calmly praised and stroked for their calm and good behaviour. If interactions become a little heated or tense, avoid the temptation to scold or raise your voice as this will add to the tension. Simply calmly distract and separate the dogs for a short time-out and try again. Try and maintain your existing pets’ daily routine as much as possible.
- No sharing just yet
Continue the neutrality of their initial few meetings for a few days, or even longer. You want to make each of their ongoing interactions go as smoothly and agreeable as possible. To do this, give your new puppy their own things: bed, toys, bowls, etc., as well as their own crate or playpen area with enough space for them to go to relax and spend some time on their own. By keeping their items separate you are avoiding any potential for possessive behaviours, but also giving your puppy specific boundaries of things they can and can’t engage with.
Here are a few other tricks you can use to ease your introduction:
- Let your older pet get acquainted first by giving them something that belongs to your new puppy/pet like a blanket or toy from their breeder or shelter. Let your current pet sniff and get used to being in the presence of that new scent a few days ahead of time.
- For a more controlled introduction, especially with more anxious pets, using a barrier such as a gate or playpen allows your pets to safely meet, sniff, and be around each other without physically interacting just yet. When the barrier finally comes down, keep a leash loosely attached to each one of your pups, so you can easily guide them away from each other when needed.
- Use training time to your advantage as a way to help reduce any nerves and tension. Keeping them engaged in performing tasks versus just letting them loose in the yard and watching what happens, can help you maintain a calm and controlled experience. A new puppy might not know any commands just yet but your older pup can help show them how it’s done. Ask for a Sit, Stay, and Come, while letting your new puppy watch or play nearby.
- If you are introducing a very active puppy/dog to an elderly, frail or anxious pet, schedule controlled playtimes instead of letting them be with each other all the time. Once your pets have interacted, give them time to decompress and settle separately in their designated crate or just in a separate space in the home.
Wishing you and your new canine family member many years of love, fun and happiness together!