One of the most exciting times for kids and families is picking out a new puppy to bring home. A puppy is a wonderful addition to any family; they’ll fill your home with joy and fun-filled energy, with their playfulness and cuddly nature. A puppy can become a quick companion for your older family dog, but it’s important to follow the proper protocol on how to introduce a puppy to an older dog. Without the proper care and support, your dog can become anxious, depressed, or stressed. It’s important to set up an introduction and follow the steps listed in the article to ensure your current dog will accept the new puppy into your home with minimal aggression or territorial behavior.
In addition, adopting a puppy is also a serious commitment. Your family is committing to caring for the puppy for the next 10 to 12 years or longer. Everyone in the home must agree to the adoption to ensure that the puppy is the right fit, basic puppy needs will be met, and puppy mishaps are expected. Taking care to introduce your adult dogs and your puppy will lead to a lifetime of healthy bonding between the two.
Factors to Consider Before You Bring Home a New Puppy
We’ve hand-selected the top three problem areas that hinder the healthy introduction of a puppy into a home that already has a resident dog. As the pet parent, you play a vital role in building a bond between them in the early weeks. Closely monitor both dogs’ body language as they interact with one another when you are home; this is a strong indication of how they will act with one another when you are gone.
Intervene when either dog exhibits aggressive behavior, but allow your dog some leeway to teach the puppy the hierarchy of the environment; the older dog is often the alpha. It is important to recognize and understand the nature of dogs as pack animals and the natural socialization that your dog will teach the puppy. Learn more about pack behaviors and alpha dogs.
As pack animals, dogs are naturally social and like to share space with their furry companions. In the beginning, your puppy will yearn for a companion at night, but it is important to allow your dog to set the pace for allowing the puppy to sleep near it. If both dogs are crated at night, they can sleep side-by-side. If you are not crate training your puppy at night, allow it to have its own space, and try not to give it privileges that you do not afford your adult dogs (like sleeping in the bed with you).
Monitoring for Fighting and Aggression
Both dogs will need supervision for the first few weeks or months. Initiate play with both dogs to support positive interactions. Monitor your dog’s body language when it interacts with the puppy.
Intervene when aggressive behavior is shown and redirect your dog or separate the puppy. The offending behavior should be considered to determine which behavior to correct and which behavior to reinforce. For example, if your puppy is going to the older dog’s food bowl and the older dog growls, you should correct the puppy and lead it to its own food bowl. In this case, it is crossing the boundary. Conversely, if the puppy is attempting to play with your dog, but the adult dog seems stressed or agitated, sit next to the adult dog to calm it and facilitate safe play. If your adult dog does not respond positively, separate it to another quiet space where it can rest alone. Do not scold it; train the older dog that it can walk away when overstimulated.
You can help build positive puppy behaviors by having a large store of puppy chew toys and bones for your puppy to stay busy with. Be sure your puppy has their own toys so as not to threaten your dog by allowing the puppy to take possession of your dog’s favorite toys or bones.
A new puppy will need their own space and their own food and water bowl when first introduced. You want to take care not to overwhelm your older dog by allowing the puppy to share food, water, or dog beds. By creating a separate space for your puppy, you are indicating that each dog will have their own safe space, and your dog will feel less threatened. When dogs invade each other’s safe space or food areas, it can lead to food-aggressive behavior, growling and nipping, or biting.
Training and Socialization of Your Puppy and Adult Dogs
Puppies are babies, and so they are still learning puppy etiquette and potty training. They need to be let out frequently, every 30 minutes to 1 hour for the first 3 to 4 months. Then every 2 hours until they are a year old. If you have a small-breed puppy, you can train them to use puppy pads placed in a designated restroom area. Your older dog may begin to mark their territory after smelling the puppy’s marks, so minimizing accidents will help to curb this negative behavior. Find out about some hacks on how to housebreak a puppy to get you started.
Be mindful that training your new furry friend is a long process, and you will inevitably spend a lot of time with the puppy. Don’t leave your older dog out; incorporate your adult dogs in training by walking them together or teaching them new tricks. Offer lots of treats, and both dogs will be happy. Start with teaching basic manners like training your dog not to jump; this is a great refresher for your adult dogs too.
Try playing with both dogs in the house or backyard to encourage sharing and positive play. Watch your dog see how it will respond to the puppy when you are not home. It may be best to keep the new guy in a puppy crate for its safety.
Separate Sleeping and Safe Space
If you crate train your puppy, you can expect that they will cry and whimper throughout the night. They are used to sleeping with their mothers or siblings and crave the warmth and comfort of others. See our guide for helpful tips to help crate-train your puppy and stop a dog from whining in his crate.
Even if you allow them to sleep outside of the dog crate, they still may exhibit some of these behaviors in the early weeks as they adjust to the new family and sleeping alone.
This may stress out your older pup, so it is best to keep the dogs in separate spaces at first. After a few weeks, you may try allowing the puppy and older dog to try sharing sleeping space, as long as your older dog is responding positively to the puppy. Your older dog should be allowed to take the lead on allowing the puppy into its space to minimize territorial behavior. Watch its body language to gauge its comfort level.
These three areas are the pillars to successfully introducing your puppy to its new home. It’s important to keep a schedule for your puppy and provide ongoing care to support the bond between your older dog and the puppy; you’ll minimize negative behaviors and improve the chances of successful integration.
A new addition can pose a threat to an older resident dog without proper precautions. It’s important to slowly phase in and introduce the new puppy so your adult dogs will feel comfortable and accepting. This guide will help you navigate the puppy-older dog dynamic from the time of the initial introduction.
The Day The New Pup and Your Resident Dog Meet
The Initial Introduction
Once you pick out your new puppy, you need to schedule a meet and greet with your older dog. The initial meeting should be in a neutral environment like the puppy’s home or a local dog park. This will elicit a more positive response from your dog, as it’s not their territory.
As they meet, you’ll want to monitor signs of aggression:
- Bearing teeth
- Tail between the legs
- Bristled hair or hair standing up on the neck and back
- Backing away or avoidance
Find out more about signs of stress in your dog .
Allow the puppy and your older dog to initiate interactions themselves and become acquainted. Start with both dogs on a leash during the initial greeting, and if they both respond positively, you can take the leashes off, so they are free to explore one another.
Introducing a New Puppy to Your Home
If the initial meeting goes well, the next step is to bring the puppy to your home. Allow your older dog to greet the puppy outside of your home, and again both dogs should be leashed to make sure you can control and separate them in case of aggression.
Once they sniff each other out, walk both dogs into the home at the same time. Stop in each room and monitor your older dog’s reaction. The room with your older dog’s food and water bowl, or bed, should be the last room visited.
Once you establish that your older dog is okay, unleash him and allow him to approach the puppy while it is still leashed. Your dog may sniff it out or walk away. Once your older dog is settled, unleash the puppy and allow it to explore the home slowly and meet other family members. Be sure that its excitement level is contained as not to overwhelm your older dog.
It is helpful to have your older dog’s bed or safe space remain in a separate room from the puppy in case it needs a break to escape from the stress of the new companion. Your older dog’s belongings should remain in their original spots, and the puppy’s belongings should be in a new designated spot.
Introduce the puppy to its rest area, food, and water bowl, as well as toys. Make sure to remove it from your older dog’s area if your dog retreats to its safe space and the puppy wander over. This sets the tone for your older dog to feel less threatened that the puppy is invading his or her territory. Its safe space will still be respected, and it will be allowed to get away as needed.
1. How do you get an older dog to accept a new puppy?
It is important to introduce the dogs in a neutral ground to minimize your older dog’s potential territorial behavior. Allow your older dog to interact with the puppy at their own pace, don’t force it. Keep a separate space for your dog when it feels stressed, so it can interact with the new puppy as it desires. Ensure you have a new set of dog belongings for the puppy, especially food and water bowl and dog beds.
2. How long does it take for an older dog to accept a puppy?
It can take a few weeks for your older dog to become fully acquainted and comfortable with your puppy. Monitor for aggressive behaviors and intervene when your puppy is aggravating your older dog with too much stimulation. Working on socialization training with both dogs, can help speed up the transition and improve their relationship.
3. Do older dogs get jealous of new puppies?
Yes, your dog may get jealous when the puppy receives your attention and affection. You can help your older dog adjust by offering them lots of praise and attention in the early weeks. Spend some time with them one on one to nurture your bond and ease your dog’s stress.
4. Should I let my older dog growl at my puppy
Growling is okay in moderation. Your older dog is displaying its dominance and the hierarchy for your puppy. It’s teaching the puppy boundaries. It is helpful for you to intervene if the growling leads to bearing teeth or other escalation. Step in and calm your older dog, and evaluate what your puppy may be doing wrong. Adjust the behaviors to eliminate negative interactions.