Getting a new puppy is super exciting but will your present dog feel the same? Most multi-household dog to dog relationships will end up being compatible and even better may be best buddies but it is best to set off on the right paw!
Before you think of bringing a new puppy into the home, one of the first things to consider is how does your present dog get on with other dogs in general? A fair amount of tolerance is required by the established dog to normal puppy behaviours and if their threshold is already iffy around dogs you may wish to reconsider bringing a new puppy into a hostile environment and also the added stress to your current dog.
Consider the size of the new puppy. Will they be comparable in size? It may not work out if your boisterous puppy is already three times the size of your present dog. Are the breed’s types similar in temperament and energy levels? What will the age gap be? A large age gap can prove challenging as an older dog can be less tolerant if they have pain issues or impaired senses. Their energy levels may be two different ends of the scale especially as time goes on.
Listed below are some Do’s and Don’ts to help with integrating a new puppy into your home with your current dog
- Introduce in a neutral place; with both dogs on loose leads and keep calm yourself, allowing a quick introduction. If your puppy has not had its second vaccinations and it is a concern where you can actually safely carry out an introduction then perhaps see if it is possible if you can meet in a neighbour’s or a member of your family’s home or garden. Possibly use a big blanket on the floor for this initial introduction so your puppy is safe from any harmful diseases. It is said to help if you all re-enter your home together afterwards, this makes your established dog thinks that he has found the puppy and the bonding starts to develop
- Allow your dog to sniff your puppy in its own time
- Ensure your own dog’s vaccinations are up to date
- If they want to play, encourage in a secure area off lead
- Clear away your present dog’s favourite toys and chews
- Have separate food dishes
- Have separate areas using gates, playpens or crates
- Increase the time spent with your established dog rather than lessen this and keep your usual routines
- Do fun games including both dogs
- Supervise and work on their relationship and you must be seen as strong consistent guardian to both equally, the same rules for both
- Schedule separate dog times so each dog gets a break from one and another to rest and play separately
- Give Kong’s and treat’s in playpens and crates making these area’s positive places to be. The puppy or the established dog will usually choose to escape to these places when they want peace. Allow either dog to have these rest periods and reward with a food treats when they use these areas
- Intervene if your older dog has displayed escalated aggression that could potentially harm your puppy. The signs to look out for are pro-longed stares, teeth showing with snarling and continually growling
- As well as some training as a pair, also train and walk your new puppy on it’s own enabling it to gain confidence and also bond with you
- Carry your puppy in your arms for the initial introduction
- If your present dog shows aggression on initial meeting of your new puppy, don’t push the puppy onto your dog to try and make them be friends. Most dogs will initially growl, snap or move away from puppies. This is normal behaviour but they do not usually hurt a puppy but you have to make sure you supervise so your puppy does not push your dog beyond its tolerance limit. Puppies have very little social etiquette as they have not developed manners. They also cannot read other dogs body languages very well yet so many puppies are very persistent and annoying to adult dogs
- Do not allow either dog to bother the other dog when it is resting. This is where crates and gates are a godsend
- Do not chastise your dog for displaying growls to the puppy. This is its way of communicating that it is not happy about a situation. Puppy will learn to walk away!
- Never feed together. Always feed in separate areas
‘Your puppy will have played with it’s siblings and developed some play habits which may be not be welcomed by your present dog. These are some of the things that your present dog will not like and may snarl, growl or snap at your puppy for doing to it
- Being sat on
- Barked at in the face
- Jumping on top off
- Stealing toys
- Biting around ears or tail
- Being walked on
- Going near the food bowl
- Coming too close
As long as your present dog does not physically harm your puppy, your puppy will learn new rules from these warnings. It can take 3-5 weeks for the relationship form. If your puppy does squeal or yip, the older dog should back off. In this time owners will need to supervise at all times when the two dogs are together. You can educate your puppy on what is acceptable behaviour in play and be your established dog’s guardian ensuring that there is lesser opportunities for tolerance thresholds to be reached.
If the new puppy is not learning, the present dog could reach a stage of using more force, which would scare your puppy at a critical time in its development.
As well as management, supervision and play the owner can look to bring in some positive reinforcement training to help the new relationship along. With the clicker training method the owner can easily mark good responses shown by the established dog towards the new puppy. A good response would be instead of growling at puppy, the established dog moves away. This would be clicked and treated. To help things along this could be carried out with the use of gates too, enabling your older dog to earn lots of rewards by moving away from the gate. The owner could also mark and reward when the established dog is enjoying interacting with the new puppy not just tolerating.
Some relationships with dogs can flourish into firm lifelong friendships, other dogs may simply cohabit and tolerate which ever it may be, it really helps to gets things started the right way.