Read the complete blog post to know how to introduce your current dog to a new pup
My dog is bored. He needs a playmate.
You got a new pup.
A few days later… ”Oh my God! My dog hates the new puppy. He is so aggressive towards the little guy. I must rehome the little puppy to save his life.”
These are the cases floating around in almost all of dog Facebook groups. Most dog guardians feel that having just one dog is not enough especially if it is a high energy dog who gets bored easily. I would consider myself a part of the same boat. However, since my boy (Delta) is very social outside the house but hates any inside his house, we have not got him a sibling yet. I do tend to bring in my fosters when they are injured or sick. They are kept away from Delta. When they feel better, they are sent back to their homes. Delta is happy alone and I respect his wishes.
However, this is not the case every time. Sometimes, dogs may get bored being alone or may display high levels of separation anxiety when alone. Having another playmate can greatly reduce the anxiety levels and keep your pup mentally and physically engaged, even if you are busy with work. As long as a few things are kept in mind during the initial days of bringing a new puppy home, there is no reason why your dog should not get along with the new member. The first step in bringing home a new puppy to an adult dog is to make plans of introduction. Most often adult dogs will welcome a new playmate, but choosing the right pup can make the transition much smoother.
Why is a prior meet and greet important?
Remember, your current dog has stayed in your home for years. He or she is naturally bound to be territorial and protective in nature. The puppy you will bring home will feel uncertain in the new surroundings initially. The new pup may act out and try to be aggressive towards the older dog. These factors are what makes a proper introduction compulsory before the pup is brought home.
1. Always arrange the meeting on neutral grounds:
The first meeting between an adult dog and a puppy must take place in neutral grounds which does not belong to either of them like a training center, a tennis court or a neighbor’s yard. Since these regions do not belong to either of the dogs, they will directly go down to the business of sniffing each other and making friends.
If a neutral place is not available, go to a park which has variety of dogs ,coming in and out frequently. Your residential pup will not claim the territory and be more willing to understand and make friends with the pup.
2. Do not leash them during meet and greet:
Dogs are very perceptive in nature. They can sense fear and aggression very easily. When they meet a new pup, if they are on a leash, the elevated levels of excitement along with the constraint of a leash can lead to development of fearful aggression. Thus first dog meetings must take place between unleashed dogs or dogs under long leashes.
Having a barrier of some kind like a fence or tennis net may also be helpful. The barrier allows dogs to sniff each other before they come in nose-to-nose contact. This allows the new dog factor to wear off before the real meet. The barrier might be especially important when there is a considerable size difference between the two pups. A friendly adult dog might injure a young pup with his or her over happy greeting.
3. Parallel walking:
Take both pups out for a walk. The dogs must walk parallel to one another and be handled by different people. Keep the leashes loose to keep any kind of tension and aggression at bay. During the initial stages, keep the two dogs out of nose sniffing range. At this point, you must avoid a staring match between the two pups. For this, use treats or toys to keep them distracted from one another. Before going in for a head to head meeting, both dogs should have at least 10-15 mins of walk time under their noses.
4. Offer them opportunities to sniff one another:
Once your dogs show a positive attitude towards one another, allow them to come together while their leashes are held loosely. For this interaction, select a region with open spaces. Allow the pups to sniff one another, from face to the rear ends. This is the proper canine etiquette.
Allow the first greeting to proceed for no longer than 10 mins. This will keep the dogs from getting tired. Call your dogs away every few minutes and offer them a treat or a toy. This will allow a happy ambience to exist between the pups and prevent any tension from seeping in.
5. Always check for positive signs
Look for the doggy language which signals towards a good interaction. If the dogs want to play together, that is a good sign. The classic canine style invitation to a game is to do a play bow. In the play bow, the tail end goes up while the head goes down. If the dog yawns, it means he or she is not a threat to the other dog. Pay careful attention to the body language of both the dogs. Growls, barks and whines can be used in both play as well as to threaten the other dog, thus you must watch them carefully.
Licking the face and mouth of another dog and rolling on their backs signal submission. These are the signs your puppy should display to your older dog. Such behavior tells the older dog that he or she is just a kid and the older dog might forgive him or her for a few puppy mistakes. Allow the initial play to progress for only a few minutes before stopping the meeting on a positive note.
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6. Behavior to watch out for:
If either of the dog/pup start to move away or if their hackles (fur which runs down their spine) start to raise p or they are growling with baring of teeth, move the dogs away from one another immediately. These are signs of over stimulation or tension and must be avoided.
7. Move to home ground eventually
Once your pups are comfortable meeting one another on neutral grounds like tennis courts or dog parks, repeat the introduction on familiar territory like your backyard without a leash (if the backyard is fenced) or on a long leash until they feel comfortable with one another. Call the two dogs away from one another every few minutes so they don’t get too excited. Also, remember to make your pup meet one older dog at a time, not the whole bunch at once.
8. Finally meet in the house:
Once your dogs are comfortable with one another outside the house and in the backyard, its time to bring the new pup indoors. This task must be done out of sight of other dogs. For example, when your pup is brought indoors, the other dogs should be out in the backyard having playtime. Its best if the residential dogs find the pup inside the house when they enter.
9. In the home behavior control:
Once they are in the new home, puppies have a lot to learn from the guardians and the existing dog as well. The first thing puppies do once they settle into a new home is to look for a playmate. If they do not find a playmate of their size, they go for the adult dogs. Your adult dog may or may not be appreciative of this behavior.
As long as the adult dog’s behavior is appropriate when correcting the pup, its okay for them to growl or grumble at the pup. This behavior is acceptable as long as the older dog does not injure the pup in any manner.
If your older dog growls at the puppy, do not reprimand him or her for the same. This is their manner of letting the pup know that he or she is unhappy about their behavior. Growling lets the pup know that the behavior is unacceptable and he or she needs to stop such behavior. It is a part and parcel of how to introduce your dog to a new pup.
10. Separate them if needed:
Puppies are made of boundless energy. Due to this, they may not lister to the older dog immediately. If your feel that your older dog is getting overwhelmed by the puppy’s behavior, separate the puppy from your dog and redirect him or her to another task, treat or toy and give your older dog a break and a chance to cool off. If you are not able to directly supervise the interaction, put your puppy in a crate or behind a baby gate.
11. Give them breaks:
It is a must to give your older dog a break from puppy handling several times per day. This can be done by crating either of the dogs. Such periods of separation take the pressure off the older dog and give both the dogs a much-needed break.
12. Provide lots of rewards:
When you are on site and watching the dogs, make sure to reward positive behavior with lots of praises and treats. Furthermore, make sure that the new pup is getting ample amount of exercise, both mental and physical. A great way of making the dogs bond is to take them out on long walks together.
13. Don’t change the routine of your home dog:
You know things will be a chaos for a few weeks when a new puppy comes home. However, your home/older dog is not aware of that. Thus, the things which have been a constant in his or her life so far like the time of daily walks, the playtime with mom or playdate with his or her friends must not change on the account of a new puppy entering the home. The older dog must understand that the new puppy is an addition, not a disruption.
14. Troubleshooting problematic behavior
Most dogs are quick at working out the social hierarchy and fix on a way to interact with one another in a positive manner. During the initial days, it is best to keep the puppy segregated in another room with a baby gate to keep him or her away from the other dogs when you are not able to directly supervise them.
A final note:
Remember to take things slow and always stay in control of the situation. Common dog guardian mistakes include allowing the dogs to meet too early or allowing them to meet when they are not calm, high strung or feeling aggressive. Always make the meeting between the dogs a positive interaction. Make sure to reward all the parties with enough treats and toys. Allow the dogs get used to one another slowly and steadily. It is very important to allow things to proceed in the right manner to let your home be a comfortable zone for all the pups.
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