Introducing a Puppy to a Dog in Residence – How to Do it The Right Way

german shepherd puppy with older german shepherd

Polyester – that was the name of the doll-that-was-bigger-than-me when I was 4 years old. My mom was a seamstress and I thought that polyester was a name. True story.

Mom made me this giant, floppy rag doll in order to make me feel special, because we had a new addition coming to the family – my little sister was about to arrive.

Preparing for a new arrival is just as important with a new puppy as it is with a new baby. Here’s how to make the transition for your dog in residence easier.

Why Can it Sometimes be Difficult to Introduce a New Puppy to Your Resident Dog?

Adult  dog with stick in mouth and puppy trying to take the stick.

Despite the fact that puppies are extremely adorable, your current dog may be wary of the new arrival. In order to ensure a smooth introduction, you need to prepare both dogs for their new environment.

In doing so, you must be completely aware of the challenges you may face so that you are prepared to meet them.

Dogs DON’T Always Like to Share Things – Especially Attention

Sharing is a difficult art to learn, especially for dogs. Previously, the resident dog of the house was the center of attention. Now, a lot of your time is going the way of the new puppy and this can hurt the feelings of your old dog. In these circumstances, you will notice the dog act jealous, upset, and even angry. 

Other than your attention, the addition of a puppy in the household divides the space and toys of your dog. 

Puppies are NOT Very Good at Understanding Signs and Older Dog Communication

Generally, adult dogs are proficient at communicating with each other and that’s the reason why they can get their message across with a slight glance. On the other hand, puppies are energetic and tend to miss these important signs. This enrages the dog and can lead to some serious issues.

Puppies are Immature

Just like humans, dogs become mature with age and give up the wild-and-crazy playing style. Contrary to that, puppies are young and have a constant love for freestyle wrestling. If that is not enough to infuriate the dog, a puppy can be dirty (with his teeth) while playing. 

How to Avoid a Confrontational Introduction?

Once you know the things that can go wrong, you will be in a better position to manage the situation. The following list of precautions will help you to avoid a dangerous situation. 

Choose a Suitable Puppy Breed

While selecting a new puppy, you must keep in mind the breed of your current dog. The puppy shouldn’t be too big for the resident dog because it can make an interaction virtually impossible. For instance, you shouldn’t adopt a German Shepherd if you have a Geriatric dog. 

Provide Independent Space and Things

In order to avoid territorial behavior, make sure that you create unconnected space for both the dogs. Similarly, arrange separate food dishes for either one of them. Lastly, ensure that the favorite toys of your older dog always stay in his corner.

Brief Initial Interaction 

Adult dog sniffing puppies nose in front of a stone wall.

Keeping the initial interaction short limits the chances of a mishap between your dog and puppy. Longer contact can escalate the feelings of tension and aggressiveness between both dogs.

DON’T Force the Issue

You might observe that the dogs ignore each other in the first place. There is absolutely nothing to worry about and let them interact at their own pace. Forcing the introduction of a new puppy to a dog in residence can lead to negative results.

Owner’s Body Language and Behavior

The voice and attitude of the owner play an important role during the first interaction. Dogs like to take a lead from their owner’s reactions and this is exactly what your old dog will do. Stay calm and comfortable to achieve the desired results. You can also use treats, during interaction breaks, to improve the mood of the dogs. 

Neutral Ground

Selecting a neutral ground for the first meeting of your dog and the new puppy can bring some positive results. This is because the older dog is not fearful of his/her yard and can develop good relationship with the puppy. You can use a park or a neighbor’s yard for this purpose.

Different Approaches for Introducing a Puppy to a Dog in Residence

There are a number of ways in which you can introduce the new puppy to your dog. We have explained some of the most effective ones for your convenience. 

Give Preference to your Older Dog

Older man sitting on a bench outside holding his dog

Understanding the mindset of the resident dog is critical for a successful introduction. You need to realize that he/she has a long-term attachment with you and needs your attention despite the new pet. In this approach, you prefer the needs of your older dog over the puppy’s wants. For example, you feed the older dog first and put his leash on ahead of the new puppy. 

You may notice your older dog growling on the puppy. It is their way of teaching the youngster some manners and the followers of this approach consider this completely natural. The best you can do is to keep an eye on them (for extreme situations) and let them handle the situation themselves. Punishing the older dog is these circumstances can have disastrous effects on his/her mental state (inner conflict).

Knowing that it is difficult for dogs to appreciate changes, you need to make the resident dog as comfortable as possible. You shouldn’t disturb their routine, at any cost, as it can be a massive dent for their confidence. This will also help them to accept your new puppy as they will feel secure. 

Just like humans, dogs also need some free time where they are away from puppies. This allows them to refresh themselves from all the stress on their minds. It is a useful tool to ensure that your relationship with the older dog has not tampered. 

Puppy Should be Controlled Properly

Touching the toy of another dog is the limit of bad manners. In light of this information, you shouldn’t ever let the puppy play with your dog’s toys because this can be a massive setback to this fragile relationship. Provide the puppy with his/her own toys and appreciate the pet when he/she chooses them. 

Puppies tend to do a little too much while playing with the elder dog. In such a case, you need to stop the game. This will teach the puppy to behave itself and will help him/her to develop self-control. It will also keep the older dog happy and satisfied. 

Crate training your puppy offers a lot more than just potty training. It helps in ensuring the morale of the older dog because the young one will stay in his designated space. This will also boost the tolerance of the puppy which is again a massive win for you. 

Clicker Training

Clicker training your resident dog is another method to develop a good relationship between both your pets. In this technique, you capture a behavior and reward (treats) the dog for every good action. This creates a connection between the ‘click’ sound and reward in the mind of the dog. As a result, he tries to replicate the good deeds to enjoy more treats. 

You should use this method to ensure positive interactions between the elder dog and the new puppy. You should reward all kinds of positive behaviors, ranging from simple ignoring to playing a game. This is an excellent way of keeping the older pet in-check and it, simultaneously, builds his confidence.

The Bottom Line on Introducing a Puppy to a Dog in Residence

Adult dog and puppy running in grass

The most important rule to follow is to understand that puppies don’t always follow the “established” rules of the household and not to force the interaction.

By taking it slow and letting the dogs get to know each other, you are more likely to have a successful introduction.

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Hi! My name is Heather Hallman. I’m the mother of two beautiful girls and a MAJOR passionate pet parent. I can hardly wait to bring you the BEST resources and information that I've found for our fur-babies.