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Wednesday 30 October 2019

How to introduce a puppy to an older dog in the house

Is your dog happy at home? Would they benefit from a companion?

It’s often the case that dog lovers can’t stop at just one dog in their household. They may reason with themselves for a long time, but there’s always a time when they come across a puppy that they simply can’t resist. Is that your case? What should you do? Are you already a pet parent and you can’t wait to make your family bigger, yet you worry about introducing a new puppy to the older dog?

Here are some tips to show you how to do it right to calm your mind a little bit.


Make sure the dogs are healthy
It doesn’t matter if you found a puppy in the street, get it from a friend or a shelter, or buy it from a breeder - PetPlace recommends a full physical examination in all cases. You can never be too careful with your loved ones and you certainly don’t want to put your older dog in danger. Make sure your new puppy is up-to-date with all of his vaccinations and that he’s been de-wormed. It won’t do any harm to check if you didn’t forget about your senior dog’s vaccinations as well.

Prepare your house
It’s important to do absolutely everything to prevent possible conflicts between your dogs - sometimes there’s nothing you can do because they simply don’t like each other, but most times, tension is just because they started on the wrong foot. So put away any toys and chews to avoid territorial aggression and buy a second set of food dishes, or scatter food so it's enriching too. Make sure you have enough space for the dogs to be away from each other when they want to. Plus, to avoid accidents, take into consideration that a puppy is just like a human child - a little bit clumsy, but very curious. You have to eliminate any potential dangers, e.g. put some rugs on slippery floors, secure the stairs or move a rocking chair so that the puppy can’t get hurt underneath it.

During the introduction

Your older dog already thinks about your house as his own house (and rightly so) so in order to avoid territorial problems, think about a neutral place for an introduction, like a park. Let the dogs sniff each other - that’s how they meet and get to know each other better.  The leashes should be loose, to not give the dogs any tension, but you should be able to bring the dogs away from each other in case anything happens. Take someone with you, so that each of you could focus on one dog only. Try to stay relaxed, because animals can really sense your feelings; if you’re stressed, they’ll stress too and they can become too wary about each other. Parallel walking is great for dogs to get to know each other, walk at a distance and gradually let them walk closer and closer to each other.

Following weeks

Monitor the behaviour
For the first couple of weeks, you should never leave the dogs together unattended. They need time to get comfortable around each other; insecurity may cause tensions. Let them play, but be there with them. Puppies are usually much more energetic and eager to play, so observe your older dog. If you see that he’s tired or irritated, take the puppy away for a while. Don’t ever force any reactions, because it’s essential that both your dogs feel secure around you. Make sure you spend time with them separately, especially with your older dog. You don't want him thinking that that he’s less important, because he might resent the new dog. Please also ensure your older dog gets time to sleep properly away from the pup, older dogs usually need a lot of sleep!

You should start training your puppy as soon as possible. He may be playful, but the younger he is, it’s also easier to teach him something. Plus, there shouldn't be different rules for the dogs, if there’s a ban on sleeping on the couch, it should include all of the animals. If you train your puppy in the garden using treats as rewards, let your older dog do some tricks to gain a treat as well; that will prevent them from fighting over it.

But above all - be patient. Just like with children or even adults, the dogs will need some time to get used to the new situation. It is very rare to have two dogs who really don’t like each other and there’s nothing you can do about it. Most times it’s all about the right approach. First weeks can be though, but you should just focus on giving love and spending time with both your dogs. Once you sit on your couch with both of them giving you dog kisses, you’ll see it’s all worth it.

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