Introducing a puppy to an older dog

Whilst deciding to bring a new puppy into your home is an exciting time for you and your family, your existing dog might not always feel the same. Here are our tips to help make that first introduction and early days go smoothly.

It can be stressful for your older dog. They are probably used to being alone and enjoying the peace and quiet of their golden years. Suddenly, in comes this whirlwind of fun, in the form of a new puppy. It’s no wonder your older dog may feel pretty upset by the whole situation.

Sometimes, when introducing puppies and older dogs, there are no problems at all. However, it’s wise to think about how to bring your new addition into the family to avoid any issues before they occur.

Think carefully about the breed and type of puppy you choose. It’s not fair to bring a large and boisterous, high-energy puppy into your home if your dog is an older, small breed dog who likes to spend time curled up on the sofa. Don’t set the older dog and puppy union up for failure.

Here are some steps you can take so that introducing the puppy to older dog all goes well.

What should I do before I even bring the puppy home? 

  • Provide a separate water bowl and bed for the new puppy. It’s a good idea to put this in a different place from your older dogs area, at least to begin with. Give your older dog some space.
  • Ensure your older dog’s vaccinations are all up-to-date. Puppies are very vulnerable, especially before their vaccination programme has been completed. The same applies to worming and flea and tick treatment.
  • Hide all the toys and chews. Your older dog’s possessions could cause a flashpoint for conflict. Avoid problems by putting toys out of the way until your older dog and puppy have got used to each other.

Introducing a puppy to your older dog

The best thing you can do is introduce puppies and older dogs outside in a neutral place, so your older dog doesn’t go into ‘protecting my space’ mode. Remember, your puppy is vulnerable to infections without their vaccinations. Don’t go far or let them meet other dogs.

Alternatively, let them meet on the driveway before taking them into your garden. Another option is to let them meet and sniff each other with a fence in between.

Keep both dogs on leads and if either looks worried or anxious, take them off separately for a short break before bringing them back together again. Give them a maximum of ten minutes together and then take your older dog away for a break. Reward your older dog with a treat and some time with you.

Bringing the puppy into your house

When you bring them into your home, keep both older dog and puppy on leads. Take your time. Before you let them off, observe your older dog’s body language carefully. Look for any signs they are getting fed up with the puppy. Don’t leave the two of them unsupervised. You should be able to see if your puppy annoys the older dog and step in to avoid a problem.

Top tip: Invest in a baby gate so your older dog can have space from your puppy. They can get a bit much at times and pester your older dog. By giving your older dog time to rest and relax, you are limiting the chances of them not getting along.

It’s also important to show your older dog they are still much loved and number one in the dog pecking order. If you start to ignore your older dog in favour of the puppy, you really are going to put their nose out of joint!

Your older dog will need time to adjust to the new family situation. By carefully managing their introduction, you give the new dog relationship the best chance of working out well.