Introducing a puppy to an older dog
You’re so excited about your new puppy that you may expect your current dog to also wholeheartedly welcome a new puppy into their life, but this is often not the case. It’s important for you to set the right expectations and know that it’s completely normal for your dogs to not immediately be friends. Puppies have not yet learnt the social rules of the dog world and may not read and respond to your current dog’s cues properly, which can be a confusing experience for both of them.

However by maintaining a calm atmosphere and with careful supervision, you can teach them both how to interact with each other and set the foundation for them to have a good relationship in the future. Petbarn has put together these helpful tips to successfully introducing a new puppy to your older dog, so that your puppy will become part of the pack in no time.

Getting ready for your puppy and older dog to meet

You’ve been planning on this new puppy for a while but have you let your current dog know about the new member of the family that’s coming? If possible, try to obtain a piece of fabric that has the new puppy’s scent on it and let your older dog smell it so that they are aware of the change that’s about to happen.

Dogs are naturally territorial animals and so make sure that your dog and puppy have their own food bowl and are fed in separate areas to avoid disputes. Also keep their toys separate and make sure they both have their own space where they can retreat to for some alone time.

The critical phase for puppy socialisation is when they are 8-16 weeks old, however your puppy will not have completed their vaccination schedule yet. Make sure your older dog is up to date with their vaccinations before they are introduced to your puppy as it is only safe for your puppy once you have done so.

Introducing a new puppy to your older dog

Follow this step-by-step guide when letting your puppy and older dog interact for the first time.

1. It’s best to introduce your pets on a neutral ground. This could be outside of your home in a park. This helps to reduce the risk of your older dog feeling like they need to defend their territory

2. Make sure each dog has a handler. Both your dog and puppy should be on a leash to have better control of the situation

3. Watch your dog’s body language. If both dogs are displaying body language that suggest they are excited or calm greeting each other, then you can slowly bring them closer together. If one dog displays more excitement than the other, take them for a walk side by side to reduce the energy and move the dogs focus

4. Once your dogs have settled down (this may take some time) bring them closer together to smell each other. This usually happens nose to nose then nose to rear. Listen carefully and watch vigilantly for signs of negative behaviour. This may include growling, baring teeth or trying to pull on the lead to gain height over the other dog. If this does occur, firmly say “no” and remove the dogs from each other calmly. Repeat the process after the dogs have settled

5. If your pets do not display any negative signs towards each other, allow them to interact naturally by holding the leashes high which will let them circle each other without getting tangled in the leads

6. Once you are comfortable that your pets are feeling safe and secure in each other’s company, let them play leash free while still monitoring them closely

Your puppy and older dog’s ongoing interactions

After introducing your dogs in a neutral area, repeat these steps at home so they can get accustomed to their new lives together.

We recommend that in their first few weeks at home together, your puppy and older dog should be kept in separate areas while you are out, and you should continue to monitor their interactions when you’re at home. When you’re happy that they’ve established a good relationship, then you can feel free to let them play together without your supervision.

Remember to spend time with your dogs separately and give each of them your undivided attention and love so you can all live happily together. If you have any concerns about the behaviour your new puppy or older dog, book a consultation at your nearest Greencross Vets who will provide you with advice on the issue.