How To Introduce A Puppy To An Older Dog

It is always a joy to have a new puppy for your kids but if you already have a resident old dog, how should you introduce your new puppy to him to avoid any potential “clashes”?

I will touch on what are the “things” that you would need to do to make the introduction an enjoyable and fun event for your puppy and dog.

Without further ado, let’s dive right in. The following topics will be covered:

  1. What Are The Preparation Works Required?
  2. What Should You Do During The First Introduction?
  3. What Should You Do After The First Introduction?
  4. How To Get Your Older Dog To Accept A Puppy?

What Are The Preparation Works Required?

Similar to the case where you are going for a job interview, you would need to do some preparation work such as finding out more about the company, your scope of duties and how you can contribute to the company success. 

The same principle applies to your puppy first “meeting” with your resident dog. You would also need to do some preparation works before their very first interacting session.

Preparation tasks such as:

  1. Keep away all your dog’s favorite toys (this is to avoid your new puppy for snatching his toys, and may trigger his resource guarding behavior)
  2. Prepare another confinement area for your new puppy (do not place them in the same confinement area till your dog feels comfortable with the puppy. This is also to avoid territorial behavior)
  3. Get another food bowl for your puppy. Do not share your dog’s bowl with your puppy as this is trigger is possessive behavior)

You see, your young puppy is still picking up and exploring his small world. He is certainly not able to interpret your dog’ body language and would need your guidance.  By taking care of the above works, you reduce the risk of your puppy incurring your dog’s aggressive behavior.

What Should You Do During The First Introduction?

For the first meet up, do it in a neutral location. Avoid doing it in your home as your resident dog may have the area as his territory and your new puppy might pose as a threat to him.

Some neutral locations that you can consider include your neighbour’s backyard or a dog park. You would need another helper to manage the new puppy and you would be taking care of your dog.

Have a dog leash on them (both the dog and the puppy), as you would want to get yourself prepared for an unexpected accident. Keep the leash loose so that they don’t really feel “tied” up. The idea is to ensure that you are able to “break” them up if they get aggressive.

Usually, they will start interacting by sniffing each other (from body to tail). Keep a close lookout on their reactions and if there is any sign of aggressiveness, pull them back immediately and leave in different directions. 

Keep the introduction session to under 10 minutes. As soon as your dog and puppy had “done” their sniffing, take them away. During this session, your dog will look at you for clue as he looks upon you as his pack leader, so be calm and do not show any sign of anxiety as he will “read” your emotion and act accordingly.

It’s important that you know how to “read” your dog and puppy reaction through their body language when they first “meet” up. This will give you a clue on how comfortable they are with each other.

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What Are The Body Languages To Look Out For?

Eye Talk

  • Droopy Eyelids indicate that he is happy and in pleasure and relax state
  • Persistent Stare indicates that he is feeling being threatened or challenged
  • Pupils of Eyes Turn Dilate Wide indicates that he is trying to be dominance

Mouth Talk

  • Mouth slightly opened with tongue sticking out indicates that he is happy and is in a relax state
  • Pull his lips up vertically, showing his front teeth indicates that he is in submissive state
  • Retract his lips to expose this teeth indicates that he is going to act aggressively
  • Draws his lips back horizontally indicates that he is feeling afraid
  • Flickering his tongue in and out indicates that he is in a state of appeasement gesture

Ear Talk

  • Hold his ears naturally indicate that he is feeling relax and comfortable
  • Raise his ear higher on his head and directed towards his target of interest indicate that he is being alert
  • Raise his ear up and forward indicate that he is feeling aggressive
  • Pull back his ears slightly indicate that he is trying to be friendly
  • Ears completely flattened or stuck to the sides of his head indicates that he is feeling submissive or frightened

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Tail Talk

  • Hold his tail in natural position indicate that he is feeling relax
  • Wag his tail gently from side to side indicates that he is feeling happy
  • Wag his tail more forcefully from side to side or even move it in circular shape indicates that he is extremely happy to see you
  • Hold his tail lower and tug it between his legs indicates he is feeling nervous 
  • Hold his tail tucked up really tight to his belly indicate his is extremely scared

Body Position

  • Dog will either try to look normal, larger or smaller, depending on his state of emotions (excited, submissive, aggressive, happy, relax)
  • When he is feeling content, happy or playful, his body posture is in normal state with relaxed muscles and body weight evenly spread over his four feets.
  • When he is feeling scared, his body posture will be hunched. He will try to make himself look small by lowering his body with his head held as low as possible
  • When he is feeling submissive, he will also try to make himself look small, lower his body but with his head raised
  • When he is feeling aroused, or being dominant, he will make himself look larger and his muscle will tense up. He will be in tiptoes position with his necks raised above his shoulder. He could also be leaning forward on his front legs
  • When he is feeling angry or aggressive, he will make himself look bigger with aggressive signs such as showing off his teeth with growling. He will also center his weight on his front legs to get ready for spring attack.

What Should You Do After The First Introduction?

After the first introduction, allow a minimum of 3 weeks periods for your dog and puppy to build up their relationship. It’s important that you keep a close supervision of their behaviors during this period so as to gauge their “bonding” progress.

Continue with your resident dog daily routine activities and establish a new routine for your puppy. Apart from playtime where you can arrange them to socialize, you should keep their feeding and sleeping places different.

Your dog might not be ready to “accept” this new puppy as his pack members and could exhibit territorial or possessive behavior. Start with just games playing, monitor the progress and work up from there.

For the playtime, make sure that you get another set of dog toys for your puppy so that he would not “steal” the ones belonging to your dog.

Keep the playtime to about 10 minutes per session so that your dog and puppy would not be too tired as they need “energy” to get to know each other. You can have up to 3 sessions per day.

Always have someone to supervise if you are not available during their socialization. Your puppy is still very young and would not know how to interpret your dog’s body language and that could potentially lead to accidents.

For example, your puppy might want to play with the dog, but he is showing signs of discomfort. Unknowing this, if the puppy keeps pestering him, he might get aggressive. So someone has to be there to make sure that everything goes well for them.

What you should NOT be doing during these 3 weeks

  • do not allow your dog to show his dominance over the puppy
  • do not allow any fight
  • do not hold your puppy in your arm as that may make the dog jealous
  • do not force them to play together if they show sign of discomfort or anxiety
  • do not allow them to share a same crate (as your dog may view this as invading his territory)

What you should BE doing during these 3 weeks

  • allow them to get use to each other at their own pace (have them meet up during the playtime and let them interact at their own leisure, of course, under your supervision)
  • allow them to escape to their crate if they feel uncomfortable
  • feed them separately using their own dish bowl
  • spend time playing with them separately to continue building your bond with them.(You should allocate equal play time for both of them else your dog might be feeling neglected)
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How To Get Your Older Dog To Accept A Puppy?

Your dog will likely be jealous and get upset when he sees another dog in the house. He is worried that you would no longer showered him with love and attention (especially if he is the only dog in your home who gets all your affiliation and love) and may start to show his aggressiveness toward the new puppy.

Be sure to give him even more love and attention than usual so as to make him feel at ease (prevent any potential hurt feeling) and this would make him more acceptable to the new member.

Include more sniffing opportunities as that is what makes them get used to each other and feel comfortable. Keep a close watch on their body languages as they start socializing and any fearful or aggressive sign should be addressed immediately.

Take things slowly and stay in control. Your dog will work out on his social ranking and decide on how to interact with your new puppy in a positive way! Usually, you should see some encouraging improvement after 3 weeks of “bonding”.