New Puppy With Older Dog. Bringing A Puppy Home To An Older Dog
Dogs are of course pack animals by nature, and as such they tend to be naturally outgoing and gregarious with other dogs and with many other animals. Even so, care must be taken when introducing a new puppy to the other four legged members of the family. When introducing a new puppy to the household it is important to be on the lookout for any signs of trouble, and to act immediately to prevent the situation from getting out of control.
Learning to read canine body language is somewhat of an art, and some people are more naturally adept at it than others. No matter what your natural ability in this area, however, it is possible to get a read on what your puppy and your other dogs are thinking, and to act appropriately.
Some of these signs — like snapping and snarling-will be obvious. Others-such as a laid back ear or cock of the head-will be more subtle. Learning to read these cues and react to them will help to make your new puppy’s first encounter with the rest of the family happy and trouble free.
During the introduction process, the puppy will need to establish his or her own place in the hierarchy of the pack. The wild cousins of the domestic dogs we know and love do this as a matter of course, and all dogs have their own pack dynamics.
It is generally a good idea to introduce the new puppy to the existing dog in a spot that is unfamiliar to both animals. Introducing a new puppy into an environment already claimed by the older dog can lead to dominance issues and even aggressive behavior on the part of the older animal. Making the introduction on neutral ground can also mitigate any territorial tendencies that would otherwise arise.
It is also a good idea to have a helper when making that all important first introduction. This will help to ensure the safety of everyone involved and also allow each person to read the body language of the canine citizens.
It is often helpful to put the puppy and adult dog in adjoining rooms, or separate parts of a single room, with a baby gate separating them. This will allow the puppy and the adult dog to sniff each other and get acquainted without the risk of a physical confrontation.
After the two dogs have gotten a chance to get acquainted, the gate can be removed and the two can get a chance to meet each other on more intimate terms. When the two dogs first meet face to face it is important to be on the alert for any signs of aggressive behaviors. Look in particular for signs like bared teeth, laid back ears, raised hackles, growling, snarling and intense staring.
If any of these signs are noted, be sure to intervene quietly and cautiously. Carefully get the attention of the two dogs and slowly lead them away from one another. Allow them some time to settle down and then try the introduction a bit later.
After the puppy and the adult dog seem to be getting along with no signs of territoriality or aggressive behavior it is a good idea to take the two for a short walk together. The walk does not have to be a long one — it can simply be a stroll around the perimeter of the backyard or a short jaunt down the street. The idea is to allow the two dogs to spend time in one another’s company.
During those crucial first couple of meetings it is important to provide close supervision at all times, and to always be ready to intervene if the need arises. Even the most laid back older dog can be overwhelmed by the rambunctious nature of a new puppy, and tempers can flare at a moment’s notice.
In many cases there will be some jealousy as well, and it is important for the puppy owner to avoid playing favorites or showering the puppy with too much attention at the expense of the older dogs.
After the two dogs have gotten used to each other it may be possible to back off the supervision somewhat, but it is still important to be alert. If possible have a friend or family member watch the two when they interact, and always be on the alert for signs of aggression or ill manners.
In time most well socialized older dogs will learn to accept their new friend, but it is important for pet parents to provide the guidance and leadership that will be required in order for the relationship to flourish.
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