Socializing Your New Puppy to Your Older Dog: Kindergarten Revisited

Your dog's first meeting with your new puppy should happen under close supervision.

Are you someone who can’t get enough of a good thing, and have found that you enjoy the companionship of your beloved dog so much that you want to welcome a new puppy into your life? A multiple dog household can certainly be fun, but the odds of doggie number one being as enthusiastic about a little brother or sister as you are may not be as great as you think.

Even the most docile and obedient of dogs may be threatened by the introduction of an attention (and tail) grabbing puppy. Fortunately, there are things you can do to make sure that both your current dog and your future puppy become the best of friends, and your transition from a single to a two-dog household goes as comfortably as possible for canines and humans alike.

Assess current dog’s personality

The first priority you have, if you are considering a new puppy, is to be honest about your current dog’s personality traits and decide if he or she has aggression issues that you need to address. Puppies are naturally social animals, and your new one will almost certainly want to make a playmate of your dog. Unless you control the animals’ “getting-to-know-you” period, which can take anywhere from a day to months, the puppy will be at risk of bullying and even physical harm from the older dog.

Remember, dogs are pack animals

This less than desirable (in human terms) state of affairs is to be expected simply because dogs are pack animals, and every pack must have its leader. In most packs of wild dogs it is the biggest or oldest animal which reigns supreme, simply because that animal has the physical strength or mental smarts to have survived.

So you should not simply set your new puppy down in the middle of the front yard and turn Dog #1 loose for an introduction. Dog #1 is very likely to see the puppy as an unwelcome intruder in the family’s territory, and react accordingly. You will have to have both animals under control (leashed) at all times. You will also have to oversee their interactions for as long as it takes them to be comfortable with each other.

Puppy needs to learn his place

This may demand a considerable amount of patience, because it won’t happen until your new puppy has learned to recognize your older dog’s messages of dominance. Your dog knows that the puppy is a baby, and will instinctively exert mild discipline over the baby until the baby’s behavior becomes so annoying that the dog simply can’t handle it any more, and becomes unacceptably aggressive.

Until the puppy accepts its place in the pack hierarchy and begins to exhibit the acceptable submissive behavior, it will be at risk of being nipped or even pinned by your older pet. So unless your Dog #1 is a small breed and your puppy a large one, you should not leave the two of them alone until they are closer in size, and you should take all the steps you can to respect your older dog’s comfort zone.

Give both dogs their own space

One very effective way of doing this is to make sure each animal has its own space. You can get a crate for you puppy to stay in when you are not around during the socializing period, and you can also feed the two animals in different locations. Give the puppy his or her own chew toys, so that there isn’t any problem with sharing (if this sounds like you will be dealing with a couple of kindergarten kids, well, that’s just about how it works!)

Having a crate will let you remove the puppy to socialize with your older dog for a few minutes at a time, yet also allow him or her to have a “secure” area in which to rest, eat, or play with the puppy toys. You can increase the socialization periods by a few minutes each day, and you should know by the end of the first month whether or not your two pets are going to be happy together.

Takes time and commitment

You’ll also have to give up some of your personal time to make sure that each of your dogs is getting plenty of individual attention from you. It’s essential during the puppy socialization period that you don’t deprive your older dog of an ounce of the affection and play time and walks he or she has been used to receiving, or you will risk unleashing some serious displays of jealousy. It’s natural to feel protective of a young puppy, but don’t forget that your older dog sees you as its parent too!

If you think you are up to that kind of commitment to two different dogs, then you can begin to prepare Dog # 1 for the arrival of the new puppy well in advance. If you intend to get your puppy from a kennel, visit the breeder and ask if you can handle the puppy and rub it with a piece of fabric to pick up its scent. Dogs identify each other primarily through their sense of smell, and by having the puppy’s scent already present in your home, you may help your older dog feel less threatened when the puppy actually arrives.

Introduce them somewhere neutral

If the breeder will allow it, you can even bring your dog to the kennel to meet the puppy, and then arrange for a second meeting at a neutral setting like a bark park. Meeting the puppy in a neutral environment will disarm your dog’s territorial instincts and let him or her concentrate on getting to know the puppy better.

By taking it slow and understanding the psychological processes at work in the minds of both your dog and your puppy, you will almost certainly have a happy two-dog household in a matter of weeks. But if you have an older dog who simply can’t make the adjustment, and have fallen in love with your puppy, don’t give up until you have talked to an animal behavior expert and tried whatever is necessary both to help your older dog feel secure, and to keep your puppy safe.


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jodi Mueller
I hve a 3 yr old female keeshond, Recently my daughter bought me a 6 week old keeshond male. Instead of any bad behavior, I was totally caught off guard by my female, not just accepting this little boy, but acting like he belongs to her and she has to take care of him. The first day, she moved back to let him drink her water, She grabs toys and then gets him to grab on and she lets him win. And the best for last, She literally lets him take a bone out of her mouth.... Totally amazing and he's not a gentleman either, He grabs her by her hair and drags her around the house.
ringo bandito
I think this site is very perfect for beginner. I'm sending special thanks too this site from all my canines things are looking bright for my new puppy her name is sante! she's a chihuahua mix none of the dogs are not threaten by her! thank you and god!
Hi, I'm looking for some help. I have a yorkshire terrior ( 9 months old) My sister had just got a new puppy too, but they cant be introduced yet as the new one hasnt finished its jags yet! The problem is...whenever we come back from my sisters house, my dog is all over us from the minute we come in until bed time, he gets really wet with saliva too. Any help with this would be great, really dont know how to control it!! Thankyou, Mariette
The Star Trek score is great also, Kirks theme is cool, the title theme is beautiful, although I missed the fanfare.
cleaning supplies should have earth friendly organic ingredients so that they don't harm the environment“
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