How would you introduce your dog to a new puppy?
I have a 10-year-old Lab mix named Ace, and we’re getting an 8-week-old Weimaraner puppy in April.
Get ready, Ace!
I have no concerns about introducing the two because Ace has met literally thousands of dogs, dozens in our own living room. He’s good with intros and sharing his space, so a puppy should be no big deal.
Still, I want it to go better than just “OK.” I want my dog to actually like our puppy and not be indifferent to him.
Here are a few ideas I’m going to try. Of course, please share your own ideas or questions in the comments on how to introduce your dog to a puppy. Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts.
How to introduce your dog to a puppy
1. Know your dog.
You know your dog best. You know how he’s likely to react to a puppy, and you know what’s best. Don’t let me or anyone else tell you otherwise.
For example, I know my dog Ace will likely show indifference to the puppy. He’ll likely sniff the pup and then go back to his bed as usual. I don’t expect him to be excited or jealous or even curious. I truly think he’ll be indifferent.
That’s why my first tips are centered around making the puppy FUN and POSITIVE for Ace.
2. Introduce your dog and puppy in a neutral area.
It’s usually best to introduce two new dogs in a neutral area. That way there’s less likelihood for the adult dog to feel possessive or protective. With such a young puppy, this is less of a concern. The adult dog will naturally know the pup is just a baby.
(Avoid busy areas, especially areas heavily trafficked with dogs such as dog parks, beaches, Petco, etc.)
3. Create positive associations
In my case, I want Ace to have a positive association with the pup (vs. indifference), so I plan to introduce them in a “fun” area right away when we bring the puppy home – I’ve chosen a local park.
Ace will wait at home while we pick up the puppy from our breeder. I’ll go straight to the park with the pup, and my husband will drive Ace to the park. We’ll also bring a few tennis balls.
That way, we’re creating four positive associations with the pup: Adventure with Josh & Lindsay, car ride, park & tennis balls!
Then we’ll all stroll home together or ride home together in the car as one “pack” and Ace can be there when we first bring the pup into our home.
(Please don’t warn me about young puppies catching diseases in public areas. I’m well aware.)
4. Puppy proof & set up a week or 2 in advance.
Most dogs are very observant and sensitive to change. You’re probably bringing in all kinds of new supplies for the puppy like gates, pens, kennels, etc.
I recommend you set these things up a week or two before you bring the puppy home so your dog can get used to these minor changes in his environment. Keep the door to the puppy’s kennel/crate closed so your dog doesn’t make himself at home in that spot and then feel possessive when the pup takes it over later.
5. Change your routine ahead of time.
Dogs are also sensitive to routine, and obviously your dog’s routine will be disrupted at least a little when the puppy arrives.
We can’t predict everything, but try think ahead and start making some of these adjustments before the puppy arrives. For example, Ace is used to being fed and walked as soon as I wake up. But when the puppy arrives, I’m going to be taking the puppy outside immediately.
To plan for this, I’ve already moved Ace’s main walk of the day to the afternoon vs. morning, and I’m going to start waiting a half-hour in the morning before I feed him and let him out. These are routine changes I’m making ahead of time in preparation of the puppy’s schedule.
Other tips for introducing your dog to your puppy:
- Always make sure your dog has a quiet place he can retreat to as he wants.
- Make sure you still set aside one-on-one time for your adult dog, like walks, play and training without the puppy.
- Watch for potential possessiveness of anything such as food & water bowls, toys & bones, dog beds & crates, family members, other pets, furniture – could be anything!
- Don’t correct your older dog for growling/barking at the pup. Instead, re-direct the puppy when he starts to bite and annoy your older dog. The puppy needs to learn boundaries.
- Don’t force interactions. Some dogs become good friends, others remain indifferent. You can try to encourage them to play with you, and you can take them on group walks. Other than that, let them interact at their own comfort levels.
So those are my tips!
Let me know, what would you add to the list?
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