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How to Introduce a Puppy to an Older Dog?

close up of Senior Dog with gray hairs on face

Introducing a puppy to an older dog is not an easy task at all. Adult dogs usually have a disciplined routine and they love to stick to it. Naturally, they won’t like anyone to spoil the composure of their life but a young pup can intervene.

An abrupt introduction can be shocking for your senior dog because he/she will consider it a threat to his/her territory. Therefore, it’s extremely important to create a good impression of the new puppy in the mind of your old dog. Keep reading to know how to properly introduce a puppy to an older dog.

Things to Consider Before Introduction

The decision of bringing a new pup into your household requires a lot of planning and consideration. You have to consider several factors before adding a new canine member to your family. After all, you don’t want to develop a negative association between your dogs. Some of the things that you should consider before introducing a puppy to an older dog are as follows.

Personality of Your Dog – Dogs with Alpha type (imposing) personality don’t allow any other pooch to settle in their territory. If your existing dog is an alpha, it’s NEVER recommended to go for a new pup.

Health of Your Dog Dogs suffering from medical problems often become touchy and can get seriously angry when someone spoils the calmness of their life.

Spacious Home – This is probably the most important factor because dogs need their own private space. You must have enough room in your home to provide ample space for both dogs.

Affordability – Owing a dog will increase your expenses because you will have to take care of all his/her needs. This includes food, toys, health checkups, and all the other expenditures. Therefore, you must ensure that you have the means to afford two dogs.

Swap Scents

Closeup of dog nose

Dogs have an incredible sense of smell. They remember the smell of the object they sniff for a long time. You can use this trait to familiarize your older dog with the new puppy. Simply bring a blanket or towel of the puppy to your home and let your dog smell it. This virtual introduction (while the pup is still with the breeder) will help your existing dog to accept the new member.

Meeting at Neutral Territory

jack russell puppy on a leash in a park

An abrupt introduction right inside the home (his/her territory) can be disturbing for your older dog. Therefore, it’s recommended to introduce the newbie to your older dog in a neutral place. For example, you can arrange a meeting in a park. Interaction of 20 minutes is more than enough.

Ideally, you should select a time when there are not many people around (like early morning). Simply, relax the leash of both canines and let them interact their own way. Keep a close eye on their behavior and interrupt on the first sign of aggression. It is best to have a helping hand because it will assist you in managing such an unwanted situation.

Provision of Private Space

Dog bed with bone in it next to a window

VCA Hospitals explain that old dogs are possessive and don’t like to share their territory with other pups. They can’t stand any invasion in their favorite sleeping spot. Therefore, you should provide the necessary space for both your pets to avoid any confrontation.

It’s also important for the older dog to have a “safe zone”. This is the place where he/she can evade without being constantly pestered by an energetic puppy. Some owners also use a crate to keep the pup away from the older dog.

Eliminate Any Possible Bone of Contention

Dog feeding station

Puppies are snatchy by nature. They will always tend to force their mouth into the food bowl of your older dog. Likewise, they try to play with the toys of your senior dog or invade his/her favorite sleeping spot. All these activities can be really annoying for your senior dog and he/she might get hostile towards the puppy.

To avoid this, owners should keep all the commodities of the older dog away from the reach of the newbie. Simultaneously, make sure that your new pup has enough toys, food, and space to adjust. This will prevent him/her from intervening in the space and using products of the older dog. 

Parallel Walks

2 beagles being led on leashes

It is a really efficient method of familiarizing both canines. Some behaviorists observed that simply going for a guided walk can reduce tension, anxiety, and fear in dogs. It also helps to establish familiarity with other dogs in a natural environment.

You shouldn’t pull their lashes while they are walking to ensure that both your pets stay relaxed. You can perhaps use longer leashes if you can manage them. Although you are taking them together on a walk, there should be some distance between the two canines. In this way, they will focus more on the walk than on each other. It is best to have another person with you for handling both dogs with ease.

Common Playing Arena

3 dogs playing on a backyard playset with their owner

A common playing area can also be a good source of early interaction between the pooches. It doesn’t mean that you set them free to wrestle with each other. Instead, you should allow your dogs to play separately but in the same arena. Simply engage another family member to play with the pup while you are playing with the senior canine. Let them observe each other and have occasional hello-hi. 

Focus On Signs of Aggression

2 dogs baring teeth at each other

While introducing a puppy to an older dog, you must monitor their behavior closely. Stay extremely vigilant and pull them apart on the first indication of trouble. Some common signs of aggression are listed below.

  • Raised fur on the back
  • Prolonged gaze
  • Growling
  • Snarling
  • Display of teeth
  • Hunched back

Avoid Punishment and Appreciate Good Behavior

Encouragement always promotes good behavior. Whenever your existing dog and new puppy behave well with each other, reward them with treats and praise. This will create good memories in their mind and they will try to improve their relationship even further.

On the contrary, you should never punish the old dog for growling at the pup. Instead of correcting this behavior, it will exaggerate the problem.

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