How to Introduce Your Puppy to Your Dog

A German Shepherd puppy sitting while looking at a poodle terrier that is standing.

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Bringing a new puppy into your home can be an exciting but daunting task, especially if you already have an adult dog. The two need to get along in order for life at home to remain peaceful and stress-free.

Thankfully, there are some steps you can take to ensure that the transition goes smoothly and that your puppy and dog become fast friends.

Let’s explore how to introduce your puppy to your dog. 

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Dog Introductions Are a Process

The most important thing to remember when introducing a puppy to adult dogs is that it is not a one-time quick thing. It’s a process, and it takes time for both animals to learn how to live together peacefully.

But with a proper introduction and patience, your dog will learn to accept the new addition to your home. And eventually, the new friends will be able to be left together unsupervised.

Introducing your new puppy to your dog

There are several steps to introducing your new dog to an older dog. During the process, remember to supervise them at all times.

Prepare your home for the new puppy 

Before bringing your new puppy home, it’s important to prepare your home in advance.

Make sure you have all the supplies you’ll need on hand, including separate food bowls, water bowls, toys, treats, and plenty of cozy spots for both of them to rest.

You will also want to set up the new puppy’s crate so they have a safe spot to be when you can’t supervise them.

Another thing you can do to help your dog prepare is to bring something home that has your new puppy’s scent on it. This will be more likely if you are getting your puppy from a breeder than if you are getting them from a shelter, but it’s worth checking into.

The initial meeting should be on neutral territory

A puppy on a leash sniffing a dog on a leash.

The first meeting between your puppy and an older dog should take place on neutral ground, away from both of their homes.

This way, neither animal will feel territorial or possessive.

Have a family member hold the leash for one dog and you should hold the leash for the other dog. Then, if the dogs need to be separated, you can more easily walk the dogs away from each other.

Pay attention to both dogs’ body language and watch for signs like raised hackles and stiff tails that may indicate aggression or fear.

Start with the dogs apart from each other and slowly let them approach each other. Let them sniff each other once they are close enough.

Don’t force them to interact; if they’re not interested in each other, that’s okay.

Pay attention each dog’s body language

As you introduce your puppy and dog, observe their behavior and look for signs of aggression or stress. If either dog is showing signs of aggression, stress, or fear, back them away from each other and give them a break before trying again.

Also, watch for positive body language. If your first dog or the new puppy starts to play bow, that is a good sign. Watch for this or other positive behaviors while watching for signs of fear or aggression.

Let the dogs set the pace of the introduction

Take things slow and follow your dog and puppy’s cues on the pace of the introduction. If things are going well, allow them to spend more time together.

If things are not going well, slow down more and keep them separated more. Give your current dog plenty of time to get used to the second dog, even if it takes a few days or longer.

Monitor them closely in the home

A German Shepherd puppy sitting while looking at a poodle terrier that is standing.

Once the initial introductions are done the next step is to bring your new puppy into your home. When you do, monitor them the entire time when they are with your resident pets. If at any time either dog is showing signs of stress, separate them.

While it’s best to keep the dogs in different rooms until the older dog has adjusted, that isn’t always practical. If you can’t put them in separate rooms, put them in separate crates as far apart as possible.

When we brought Luna home, the only option we had was to put her crate in the same room as Morgan’s crate. We put them on opposite sides of the room.

We were lucky because when Morgan is upset, and in her crate, she chooses to turn her back on the upsetting thing (in this case, Luna). Though she spends several minutes barking first.

When we couldn’t supervise them together, they were in their crates. Their crates were their safe space to be away from each other.

I will say, this doesn’t work for all dogs. For some dogs, you will need to find a way to have them in separate rooms. It all depends on your dog.

When they are separated, make sure to give both of them something to keep them busy like a chew toy or other toys that are safe for unsupervised play. A filled Kong will also keep them busy and distracted.

Feed them in separate areas

Whether you can have your dog and puppy in separate rooms when unsupervised, they do need to be separated at mealtimes.

This is to prevent any potential food aggression or resource guarding on the part of either dog. It also prevents them from eating the wrong food if one is a slower eater than the other.

Feed them in separate rooms and make sure that each dog has enough space and time to eat without being disturbed. You can use baby gates to block off the rooms if you prefer to keep the doors open.

If you don’t have room to feed them in separate rooms, you can feed them in their crates.

Plus, feeding the puppy in their crate helps with crate training.

It’s a good idea to verify that your dog and puppy are actually eating their food whether they are in separate rooms or crated. If they aren’t eating, try something else.

For us, we can’t feed Morgan in her crate. She refuses to eat if the door is shut. No idea why as she has plenty of room for her food and her bed.

To adjust for this, we put Luna in her crate with her food and shut and latched the door. Then we put Morgan’s food in her crate but left the door open. She had no problem eating with the door open, just won’t when it’s shut.

We continued to feed them this way until Luna transitioned off of puppy food. Unfortunately, even once they were getting along, Morgan is the type of dog that wants to eat anything that isn’t in her food dish.

So Luna’s food was a delicacy to Morgan, which meant Luna’s food had to be locked away from Morgan. So Luna was crated while she ate until they were on the same food. Now their bowls are about 5 feet or so away from each other.

Morgan still tries to steal Luna’s food, but that’s because they are both on a diet. But Luna eats fast enough that there is no food left for Morgan to steal by the time Morgan is done with her food.

Give the resident dog lots of attention

It’s important to not forget about your current pet in the midst of all the excitement of getting a new puppy.

Make sure you spend plenty of one-on-one time with them. Give them extra attention in whatever way they prefer.

Morgan is a cuddler, so making sure to give her extra cuddle time was important. Other dogs may prefer extra play sessions or walks. Tailor your extra attention to your dog’s favorite activities.

This will help ensure that they stay happy and secure while welcoming your new arrival into their home.

A few notes

A German Shepherd puppy sleeping on the floor next to a poodle terrier sleeping in a dog bed.

If your dog enjoys the company of other dogs, introducing a young puppy will be much easier than if your dog doesn’t like being around other dogs. Morgan prefers to be the only dog, but she did eventually learn to accept Luna.

It just took longer than it does for other dogs. The size difference between Luna and Morgan probably didn’t help anything either. Luna was about the same size as Morgan when she came home and is now about 5 times as big as Morgan.

If your dog has behavioral issues, you will want to carefully consider whether to add a new dog to the family. Discuss the idea with your vet. They will have ideas to help that are specific to your dog.

And remember, while most dogs are social animals, some prefer to be an only dog.

Finally, if after several days or so, your dog is still not getting along with their new friend, it’s time to consult your vet or animal trainer for advice. They can look at your situation and provide information specific to your situation.

But if you take it slow, and follow your dog’s cues, you should see improvement each day.

Related posts

How To Survive The First 48 Hours With A New Puppy

How To Crate Train Your New Puppy

The Ultimate Guide To What You Need For A New Puppy

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