A new puppy joining your family is an exciting time, but it is not as easy (at first!) as most people think. If you already have a dog or dogs, it is crucial to be prepared for welcoming the new little guy in the best way possible. Here are some tips to make the new chapter in your and your pets' live smoother.
Beware of unrealistic expectations
It will not be a piece of cake, even if the dogs are angels. In brief: dogs rarely welcome a new puppy positively when they first meet and growling at the pup is typical. Negative dog reactions at first are normal – so make sure not to blame it on the dogs, let alone on yourself. It's animal nature, that's all.
Note: It literally never happens that the older dog hurts a pup, even if they do seem somewhat aggressive.
The initial introduction should be relatively brief, and you should not push it or expect too much. To tackle territorial aggression, try to find a neutral space to introduce the older dog to the new puppy. Keep your older dog on a leash while someone else holds the puppy on a leash, but make sure they get to sniff and meet each other.
The most important thing: Stay calm. Dogs can sense tension and are more likely to get anxious if you feel that way – your older dog is particularly used to relying on you to assess situations.
Observe the body language
Dogs' body language can often speak louder than growls. You should consider some body language as negative signals at first interactions (meaning you should stay cautious, but still relaxed!):
- Raised fur on the back of the neck/back
- Prolonged stares
- Display of teeth
- Hunched back
Later interactions – be there and observe!
Good supervision is crucial when introducing a pup to an older dog in the household. For one thing, the puppy doesn't have the same social skills as the older dog. Also, the puppy understands play in very different ways –older dogs play by rules, but young ones do not, which can be a source of conflict. Try to stick around for their interactions in the first few days and guide the puppy where necessary.
By all means, avoid punishing any of the dogs. Don't expect the puppy to understand all your signals. Also, don't be surprised if your older dog growls – this is a form of communication and is perfectly normal. If you find yourself struggling, try to supervise more, but react less, leaving punishment only for extreme cases.
Reward good behavior
Rewards work much better than punishment. For anything you consider good behavior, introduce rewards, even if these are just petting and verbal affirmation. Both the older dog and puppy will be encouraged by these (you'll be surprised how much!).
With these little tips, we are sure you'll enjoy the introduction process and everything that comes after. Just remember, stay patient and positive, and your dogs will be grateful!