How To Introduce Your Puppy To An Older Dog

The fam’s growing! 🐶🐶

Are you adding a new puppy to your family and a little worried about how your older dog’s gonna take it?

You’re not alone, but don’t worry! Tons of families have been able to make the transition and go on with their happy, dog-filled lives.

It might just take a little patience — and definitely some smart planning — but it can absolutely happen.

Just think about all those double snuggles! Here’s how to do it, safely and happily.

How to get started

The Dodo spoke with Dr. Zay Satchu, cofounder and chief veterinary officer at Bond Vet in New York City, to get some tips on how to make the transition as seamless as possible.

“If possible, I would recommend bringing the new puppy's scent into the house prior to bringing him/her home,” Dr. Satchu said.

You can do this by bringing in a toy or blanket from the rescue that has their scent on it. This’ll help your older dog recognize who the puppy is when they arrive.

How long does it take an older dog to accept a puppy?

This will depend on the dog! Some dogs will require no time to adjust, while others may take several weeks to adjust to a new addition.

“One of the best things you can do is try to maintain your existing ‘pre-puppy’ schedule and routine with the older dog, and maintain the same amount of attention that they've always received from you,” Dr. Satchu suggested.

This helps to make sure your older dog knows you still love him, helping to reduce any possible jealousy they might experience with all the attention the new puppy is going to get.

Some dog language to look out for

Since your dog and puppy can’t tell you how they’re feeling with their words, it’s important that you understand some basic dog language.

“Tail-up and ears-forward body posture is an indicator that dogs are at ease and accepting of their current environment,” Dr. Satchu said. “If the tail is tucked or the ears are pinned back, this is a sign of fear or discomfort.”

Positive reinforcement when they appear happy with one another is important — so make sure you have some treats on hand!

Like these ones from Chewy for $13.01

“Some dogs are vocal when they play, and that is not a concern,” Dr. Satchu said. “If they have a happy tail, relaxed face, and are using postures like play bow, it's likely their vocalizations are friendly in nature.”

“Snapping and growling are likely to occur in the presence of food or toys,” Dr. Satchu advised. “If this is the case, try getting them to have positive interactions without those objects present.”

Don’t correct your older dog when he’s just teaching your puppy boundaries

Also keep in mind that your older dog might completely ignore your puppy in the beginning, and give off some cold behavior — like snarling or growling — if the puppy gets too close or acts too energetic.

It’s important that you don’t correct your older dog if the puppy is making him super uncomfortable and he’s just safely telling the puppy how he feels. In general, most puppies will learn to understand this, but if they keep going to bother your older dog, correct the puppy and separate them.

Of course, there are times when the older dog is being genuinely aggressive. In these cases, it’s best to separate them and consult a certified dog trainer or behaviorist to figure out how to safely move forward.

In the beginning, it’s a good idea to give the older dog plenty of space away from the chaos that a puppy brings until they get adjusted.

If you need more insight on how to get your dogs safely and happily acquainted, reach out to a dog trainer or behaviorist for help — and bring on all the wagging tails!

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