It's Christmas Puppy Season! 4 Tips on How to Introduce a New Dog

on December 02, 2021
How to Introduce a New Dog

Ready to make the leap to multi-pet ownership? If you’ve been a one dog family and you are introducing a new pup, or even if you’re just adding one to a big family pack, we’ve got four key tips to making that first introduction a smooth one.

You don’t have to alienate your dog when you bring in a new friend. Follow these guidelines about how to introduce a new dog and grow your happy pack.

1. Start on Neutral Territory

The first step in how to introduce a puppy to your dog is not the how it’s the where

How does your dog react to strangers? To meeting new dogs? To the delivery person ringing your doorbell when dropping off a package?

You may have trained your dog to handle these situations well, but their natural instinct is to protect the pack and your home. So, it’s perfectly normal and expected for your dog to freak out if you bring in a new puppy straight through the front door. 

Instead, take a more gradual approach. Meet at a familiar park, like an off leash dog park. Then, hold the puppy near your dog and let your dog sniff and explore. If your dog does well with the second step, and your new puppy is not too afraid, you can set the puppy down on the ground and let the dogs sniff each other.

Next, consider playing with a new toy (not something that already belongs to your dog). You can keep it simple (like a stick). If your puppy is too young to want to play, just do the sniffing/exploring step. Walk around with them a bit.

After you’ve established comfort on neutral territory, then go to your own backyard. 

Let the dogs continue to sniff and explore, but now this is the outskirts of your dog’s protected territory. If Fido hasn’t had puppy playdates before, this will already start to feel strange. Give them a little more time together.

Only after they’re comfortable together outside, should you bring your dogs indoors.

2. Respect Your Elders: Establishing Pack Leadership

In addition to protecting your turf, your dog will want to keep their own stuff. As part of your plan with your new pup, you need to have designated food, water bowls, toys and even sleeping arrangements (such as separate dog beds). Over time, your dogs may learn to share a water bowl or even a bed, but it’s safer to start with separate territory.

Then, you also want to show deference to the dog you had first. If you treat your dog as dominant, they will learn to care for the puppy. But if they feel threatened by the puppy, they might lash out.

There are lots of tips on how to establish pack order, but a few key points include:

  • Rewarding your dog fist, puppy second.
  • Letting your dog go through doors before the puppy.
  • Encouraging your puppy to follow the dog’s established patterns, such as walk times.
  • Not letting the puppy take your dog’s favorite spots or toys.

If you have a smaller dog and get a puppy that will grow bigger, it’s especially important to maintain pack order. Otherwise, your dogs might not be sure of their standing and try to fight for dominance. Your dog could harm the puppy while small, or the puppy can grow to a size where it can harm your dog.

3. Remember to Reward

As you train your new puppy, reward your dog also. Sometimes training efforts get focused only on the new addition. But your existing pack members need to still feel valued or they tend to get a little jealous or territorial!

As you train, remember that reward-based training works more effectively than punishment-based, even though it can be tempting to focus on punishing bad behavior when your dog destroys your favorite shoes to get your attention!

CBD dog treats do double-duty: a tasty reward with a dose of healthy and calming CBD.

4. Re-pave a Rocky Road

So you started off wrong and your dogs don’t get along? Unfortunately, a frequent reason for dogs being re-homed is that they didn’t get along with other pack members. Don’t give up your dog, nor give up on your dogs!

Even if things got off to a rocky start, it’s possible to straighten them out.

Try separating your dogs, but bringing them together for walks and training time. If efforts for cooperation fail, consider using a professional dog trainer to help reconcile dog and pup.

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