Introducing your puppy to an older dog

by | Dog Care |

Having an older dog as a companion is a wonderful thing. Not only are they more likely to be housetrained and have good doggie manners, if you’ve had an older dog for a while, there’s a special bond that can’t be replaced. But what happens if you introduce a puppy to your family as a younger fur sibling to your older dog?

If you’re thinking about adding to the happiness of your household by adopting a puppy and aren’t sure how your older dog will react, there are some things to keep in mind. While some older dogs love puppies because they can bring out their own playfulness, sometimes a puppy can be a little too much for an older dog to handle.

Here are some things you can do to make the transition easier.

Tips for the transition
  • Have both dogs walk beside each other while providing treats for calm or positive behaviour. Slowly bring the dogs closer together, as long as no negative reactions are observed. If the puppy is getting too excited, try to redirect their focus with a toy or treat. More tips on this here.
  • Put a leash on your puppy during supervised playtimes, even inside the home, so that you can remove him or her from the situation if they are getting too rambunctious for the older dog.
  • Practice recall so you can call your puppy to give the older dog space when needed.
  • Incorporate daily walks and some short and positive play dates with the two dogs. You’ll also want to stop playtime before any negative behaviours occur.
  • Give the older dog puppy-free time so you can focus your attention on them. This will also allow them to have quiet time without the puppy around.
  • Reward both dogs when they’re separated by giving them enrichment items such as KONGS® or food puzzles.
  • If it’s taking your older dog time to warm up to the idea of a puppy; keep them separated for a time. This is a good way to get him or her acclimatized to having the puppy around.
  • And finally, never leave your puppy and older dog unattended until a positive relationship has been established.
Key reminders

It’s important to keep in mind that some older dogs may never warm up to a puppy. Because of this, you should always be aware of their stress levels and positively reinforce the older dog during the transition period, as well as the puppy for good behaviour. While the two may not be best friends, there are many things you can do to help your older dog adjust to having a puppy around.

Remember, introductions take time. Don’t feel the need to rush the process, and by doing this, you’ll keep your older dog and your puppy happy and stress-free.

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