So, you’re thinking about bringing home a new puppy but you’re worried that they might disrupt the harmony of your household. ‘Will my puppy get on with our other dogs?’ and ‘what happens if they fight?’ are common questions to ask when you’re contemplating bringing a new puppy home.
If you’re one of many owners asking these questions, then don’t worry! In this article, we’ll address all of these questions and more by discussing how you can introduce your new puppy to your resident dog (or dogs) with minimum disruption.
Before bringing home a new puppy, it’s a good idea to introduce your puppy to your resident dog in a neutral location. A local park or a large open field where there is lots of space can be the perfect place to do this. Remember that both dogs must be on leads and your puppy shouldn’t be outside unless they are over six months old and properly vaccinated. It’s a good idea to try to pick a place where there aren’t too many distractions (e.g. from other dogs) so your puppy and your resident dog can focus on getting to know one another.
It’s worth noting that if you’re getting a rescue dog, you can probably set up a meeting between your old and new dog in the rescue home, where experienced staff can help you.
Walk your puppy and your resident dog together in parallel. Try to double back on areas you’ve already covered so your dogs can catch each other’s scent. If they seem relaxed and there are no signs of aggression bring them closer to each other. Do this gradually until your puppy and your resident dog are almost within touching distance.
If they seem relaxed, allow them to meet for a short period. Ensure that you keep the lead loose at all times. Praise any desired behaviour and pull the dogs apart if there is any hint of aggression.
First time in the home
You’ll want to let your new puppy explore the home while your other dog is out of the house. This will help your puppy to feel at ease with their new surroundings. It is important to remove anything that may cause a fight. Typically, items associated with possession such as food bowls or half-chewed bones can cause conflict.
The first time your puppy and resident dog meet in the home needs to be completely stress-free. This is a highly sensitive period and a bad interaction could make for a bad start to the relationship between your newcomer and your resident dog.
The best way to do this is to get them used to each other’s scent in the house. This can be achieved by using toys or blankets that have your new puppy’s and resident dog’s scent.
Separate your new puppy and your dog into separate rooms. Then place the scented items (sometimes called ‘scent articles’) where your respective dogs rest or sleep, and this way they can get used to each other via their sense of smell. Since a dog’s sense of smell is one of the primary ways in which they communicate, your new puppy and your resident dog will already be familiar with each other before they actually meet for the first time in the home.
Beginning family life
Now you’ll want your new puppy and your resident dog to co-exist peacefully. However, you must remember that they are still not used to each other just yet and full integration may take a bit longer.
Even after they have met for real and seem to get on, there is still a transition period to go through. For this reason, it’s nice to have separation between your dogs to give them individual space to relax and reflect. Either a quiet room for your puppy or a child safety gate to separate your dogs can help to give both your new puppy and your resident dog a chance to relax and reflect on their new relationship with each other.
It is also helpful to separate your dogs during feeding time. Dogs can be territorial when it comes to food, so to minimise conflict and potential feelings of jealousy, separating your dogs during feeding in the early stages.
Harmony in the home
If you have an older dog, they may not be able to keep up with your energetic new puppy. The best way to keep your puppy relatively calm is through suitable levels of exercise. By giving your puppy enough regular exercise and play time, they simply won’t have enough energy to annoy your older resident dog all the time. This is why it’s important to start walking your puppy when they are ready. You can find more information about when a puppy is ready to be walked here.
If you have multiple dogs, it’s also a good idea to introduce your puppy to the youngest adult dog in your family. Eventually, parenting instincts will surface and your resident dog will start teaching your dog how to behave while taking care of them.
Introducing a new puppy to a stable household can raise a lot of uncertainty. This is why owners often have so many questions regarding the new addition to their family. However, by introducing your new puppy to the household gradually using the tips we’ve listed above, it can help to make the transition much smoother.
Don’t let concerns and worries hold you back from adding that perfect new member to your family. Bringing home a puppy is an exciting time and one you’ll probably look back on fondly once they’re all grown up!