Introducing An Older Dog To A Puppy


Preparation is key. Start by picking up any toys or chew items from common areas. Then decide where the puppy will be during rest times or times in which you cannot supervise. Depending on the size of the puppy, this can be a repurposed playpen or an ex-pen with a crate inside, or even a small room. This will become a safe space for your puppy to have his own toys and chewies and a place to take rest when the two dogs need a break from each other. Always build in an escape route for your adult dog to move away from the puppy.

Keep the introduction low-key. Loud and excited voices can ramp the excitement level up, causing behavior to escalate as well.  You may attach a leash to your adult dog, letting it drag, so that you have a means to remove him should the introduction not go well.

Keep in mind that adult dogs treat puppies differently that they do adult dogs. Here’s what I mean. It is normal puppy behavior to rush up to an adult dog, tail wagging, attempting to lick the mouth of the adult dog. Adult dogs usually react to this exuberant greeting by appearing a bit standoffish or even by swatting the puppy with a paw, growling, and/or air snapping. This is normal behavior and rarely leads to the puppy being injured. Our natural reaction is to scold the adult dog for this reaction, and to assume he is “jealous”.  Better to redirect as calmly as possible, keeping in mind that puppies are still learning polite dog/dog behavior. Hopefully, your new puppy lived with his or her littermates long enough to learn the basics, but even so your puppy is still learning to be a polite member of dog society. Misunderstandings will happen.

After the introduction, your adult dog may seem alarmed at this new, rambunctious interloper for a bit. This is especially true when the puppy approaches areas your adult dog has come to appreciate as “his” or engages in activities that adult dogs do not appreciate (pouncing on heads or pulling on sensitive areas). Be patient as they both learn.

Most of the time, both parties come to know and understand each other but if you are concerned, why not check in with an expert?  Small issues can become big ones while we wait to see if things work out on their own. It’s easier to fill a cavity then waiting until you need a root canal!

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Positively Expert: Christina Waggoner

Graduate of the Karen Pryor Academy and a 500-hour certified yoga teacher. Christina has been quoted in Dog Fancy Magazine’s Popular Dog Series “Training Secrets For Siberian Huskies”, Orange Coast Magazine, Whole Dog Journal and the elephant journal. Christina has presented at Clicker Expo.


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