INTRODUCING A NEW PUPPY TO THE FAMILY DOG!

Posted by Lisa Sumsion on

Bringing home a new puppy is a wonderful occasion for the entire family, including your current family dog! Introducing them to each other is a crucial step for your pups to form a lasting bond and learn to co-habitat as family members.

A real concern for soon-to-be-second-time pup parents is the off-chance that their pups might not like each other. Luckily, with the help of some pre-planning, useful techniques, and training guidance plus prevention on your part, you can make the meeting process as smooth and enjoyable as possible! So if you’ve decided that today is the day for the big introduction, read up on our tips below! 

Setting up for the introduction

The first step before the big introduction is up-to-date vaccinations - for both pups! Certain illnesses are easily transferable from an older dog to a young puppy even if your older pup has had their vaccines in the past.  This includes assuring both pups are clear of parasites like Giardia, Coccidia, as well as worms!

Now you are ready to set the stage for your pups. The  recommendation is to bring your pups to a neutral location, like an open park, to avoid the potential of your current pup feeling like their space is being encroached. However, it is also advised not to take your new puppy to a park until receiving all of his vaccinations.  I personally would not risk my puppy's health by going to a park or other location that has had access to lots of dogs.  So for a new puppy, I would follow the instructions in the following paragraph. 

If you don’t have the option of a neutral space, you can “create” that environment at home. Remove your current pups’ toys, bowls, bed, and other items they may become possessive over in the presence of your new puppy. If possible, have them meet outside the house first before coming indoors. For older or young adult dogs that were well socialized pups, introducing a new puppy into their environment isn’t of major concern for owners. Taking the time to create a comfortable and controlled space is good general advice especially if you have any concern about territorial behaviors bubbling up during your pups’ introduction

Additionally, to provide a neutral space, you want all of their initial interactions going forward to be as agreeable as possible! This means making sure that each of your pups has their things, such as a bed, toys, bowls, etc., as well as enough space for them to go to relax when they want some time on their own.

How to Introduce Your New Puppy to the Family Dog

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There are a few different techniques you can use to ease your pups into their first meeting. If you have something that belongs to your new puppy like a blanket or toy from their breeder or shelter, let your current pup sniff and get used to being in the presence of that new scent ahead of time. 

For a controlled introduction, using a barrier such as a crate, gate, or playpen allows your pups to safely meet, sniff, and be around each other without physically interacting just yet. And you can use these tools each time they meet until they get their curiosity out of their system and are used to seeing each other. When the barrier finally comes down, keep a leash attached to each one of your pups just in case one of them needs to be led away for a little break.

Use puppy training routines and games to your advantage as a way to help reduce the chance of anxiety or 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 but your older pup can show them how it’s done. Ask for a Sit, Stay, and Come, while letting your new puppy watch or play nearby. You can also walk them side-by-side in the yard to help them get familiarized but also keep the focus on other things like sights and smells around them.

Pro tip: Two pups, two people! On the day of their introduction, enlist the help of a family member or close friend to help oversee the pups, handle their leash, and assist in activities like training games or walking them! 

Things to Look Out For During their Meeting

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Of course, there are some watch-outs to look out for when introducing your puppy to the family dog. Puppies are still getting a handle on their surroundings and their energy. Older pups have learned the ropes of being part of the family, have their own established routines and might have mellowed out of the high puppy energy. Keep these points in mind when your pups are meeting for the first time so you know when your pups might need a little break.

Puppy energy can be a lot to manage, even for an adult dog! Watch your puppy ensure they aren’t jumping all over, chewing on, nipping, barking at, and just becoming too much for your other pup. And vice versa! You might have an older pup that is playing too rough for a younger puppy. If you notice these behaviors in either one of them, it’s probably a good opportunity to give them a little space to settle down on their own.

Notice if either of your pups start to back away in a corner or under a chair if the hackles (the fur running down their spine) start to raise, teeth-baring or growling start to occur. These body language signs are responses to either over-stimulation or tension which are good indicators that it’s time for another break from their activity together.

Always supervise your pups when they are put together and don’t let them “work it out” on their own. Young puppies often don’t understand the boundaries your older pup is trying to tell them just yet so will need you to step in. Keep their size in mind too! Larger breeds grow quickly and often aren’t aware of their size or strength and can unintentionally hurt a smaller pup during play. Also, never force them to play or interact together. Give each pup space and time they need to get comfortable with each other.

All in all, a little planning goes a long way for a seamless first introduction between your current dog and new puppy. Work on socialization if you have the chance to before your new puppy comes home. And take preventative measures like providing neutral space for them to meet, and giving them an outlet like puppy training or walking. With these tips, we’re positive that your pups will learn to trust each other and develop a lasting family bond!


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