How to Safely Introduce Your New Puppy Into Your Home

If you are thinking about bringing in a new puppy to your family, do not forget to take into consideration your current dog. Before you start looking for another dog, make sure the one you already have will be happy that you have added to the family. Especially older dogs who have always been an “only child.” They can be fear or aggressive to a new dog in their domain.

Does your dog get along with other dogs at the dog parks, doggy daycare, or when friends bring theirs to visit? If the answer to any of these is no, you may want to stop and think hard before trying to bring another dog home.

Switching blankets helps the dogs learn each others scents so they are "familiar" when they finally greet.
Switching blankets helps the dogs learn each others scents so they are “familiar” when they finally greet.

Also, pay attention to whether your current dog seems to prefer bigger or smaller dogs, male to females, long haired to short hair, etc. Believe it or not, dogs can be quite snobbish about such things. My 10 year old sheltie only likes other shelties and little white fluffy dogs. She will wag her tail and go to greet one of them; anything else she will either hide from or growl at. Go figure.

Before Baby Comes Home

If you are sure your dog will be okay with a sibling, follows these steps to ensure a safe and positive meeting.

  1. Notice where your current dog’s “spots” are – her favorite place to sleep during the day, at night, where she goes to chew her bone, etc. When the new puppy comes, these spots are going to become “heated” areas were an altercation may occur if your dog is protective of their space. These are the areas you do NOT want to use as a first meeting ground. Watch your dog’s reaction when the puppy is finally allowed into those spaces.
  2. Plan out where the puppy is going to go. You cannot simply bring him into the house and let it go. You need to keep the two separate for a bit. Make sure your current dog still has access to her favorite places.
  3. Depending on the age of the puppy you are picking up and where you are getting him from, they may allow you to bring your current dog with you, to see how they get on. This is great because they will be meeting in a neutral area and you can make your choice in part by how your dog reacts around the prospective sibling.
  4. If you cannot do a “pre-meet,” arrange to swap blankets about a week before you bring the new dog home, so that they can get used to each other’s smells.

At Home

  1. Once at home, put puppy in his area and switch blankets again, which by now smell like the other dog. Have your puppy somewhere your current dog can smell and hear him, but not see or touch him.
  2. After a few days, switch places, so that your new puppy is where your older dog was and vice versa. Again, it is all about getting them used to each other.
  3. Now allow the dogs to hear, smell, and see each other, but still no touching. Look for signs of aggression, stress, and/or fear in both dogs. If you think either dog is uncomfortable, remove the ability to see each other and contact a professional trainer. Do not force the issue.
  4. If all is well, brainstorm about a neutral place for the first meet and greet. The backyard or a room your current dog does not spend a lot of time in is best. Make sure there is no food, special beds, or toys that your dog may guard from the puppy.

The Meeting

Just like with humans, the first impression is everything when it comes to dogs. As long as your dog is not leash-reactive, start with them both on leash. This way you can pull either away if necessary.

  1. Encourage a proper greeting by leading the dogs toward each other’s hind-ends at first. Again, watch for signs that the dogs are not getting along.
  2. If the greeting is going well, you can drop the leashes and let them drag.
  3. Bring out brand new toys that both dogs have not seen. This can help distract them and take the pressure off of the meeting (gives them an excuse to focus on something else if needed). MAKE SURE YOU HAVE MORE THAN ONE TOY PER DOG! Have plenty to help avoid guarding or squabbling.
  4. Interact with both dogs to encourage play and good interaction. It helps to have more than one person to do this with.
  5. After a few minutes, give the dogs a break from each other. If things went well, you can put them together more and more, making sure you are always supervising to ensure they are getting along.

TIPS:

  • Remember your older dog will not want puppy constantly bothering them. Watch for signs that your old dog has had enough and give them a break from the puppy.
  • Watch for signs of guarding water, food, beds, people, etc., from both dogs. If you see guarding, remove the item that is being guarded immediately.
  • While allowing your adult dog to “correct” the puppy can help teach him manners, make sure your adult is not being too rough with her reprimands. If you think she is being overly “cranky,” give her a break.

Follow these guidelines to help your puppy’s transition into the family be a positive and successful move.

About the Author

Based in Tustin, Calif., animal lover Kristina N. Lotz is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) and works as a full time trainer. She also owns her own custom pet products company, A Fairytail House, where she makes personalized collars, leashes, beds, keepsake pillows and blankets, and anything else your imagine can think up. In her spare time, she trains and competes in herding, agility, obedience, rally, and conformation with her Shetland Sheepdogs.

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