Introducing a New Dog or Puppy to Existing Dog Household
Choosing The New Dog
Are you thinking of buying a puppy and have an existing dog?
Or are you considering getting an adult dog or a rescue and concerned about the impact on your existing dogs or dog?
Then this will help you integrate and prepare your current dogs for the new arrival
If the new dog is an adult, try to select a dog that is to the best of your knowledge accustomed to other dogs, (i.e one that is socialised)
You should know your current dog well enough to know how well it gets along with other dogs.
If it is a naturally submissive dog it probably does not matter too much whether the new dog tends toward submission or dominance.
However, if your current dog is a dominant dog, your best bet is to acquire a dog that tends towards the submissive and is smaller than your current dog,
Size can be important as your established dog may feel threatened by a newcomer that is a larger breed.
You are going to need a towel, soft toy or a small blanket with the new dogs or puppies smell on it this is especially important with puppies.
Put that into the bed where your existing dog sleeps a few days or a week before bringing the puppy or the dog home.
Also, do it the opposite way round and get the smell of your existing dog and put it in with the dog you are rehoming. That is not required with a puppy
If it is a puppy also wear a teeshirt overnight with your smell on it and give or send it to the breeder a few days or a week before you pick up the puppy.
The puppy will bond and accept you much quicker and easier as your scent will be familiar and remembered when in the security of the mother and siblings. All dogs have what is known as a scent memory.
Introduce your established dog and the new addition in a neutral place, like a park or a neighbour or friends garden. It is better they meet outside then neither should feel cornered, threatened or territorial in that environment. Both dogs should be on a lead if they are adult. If your current dog is obedience trained, put him/her in a sit or down stay. Allow them to sniff one another and encourage play, discourage all aggression.
This is especially important if you are bringing home a new puppy as the older dogs will think it has found it, and will more readily accept the pup when you finally bring it into your house. See (2) All About Puppies at the bottom of the page
Anxiety or Aggression
Should your new dog show anxiety or aggression, take the introduction slow and easy let the dog realise your existing dog is no threat, do not force the situation, allow your established dog to come and sniff the new dog. The new dog should learn to trust the established dog by realising that it is not going to attack him, and your established dog learns that the new dog is acting either submissive or friendly to him. This fosters trust amongst the two animals.
If the dogs want to play, let them. In fact, encourage them, and do not interfere unless you feel you must. If you are in a secure area, you can let both dogs off the lead at this time.
Settling Them in The Home
When you get them home the first thing you must do is establish a spot for each dog that is initially physically separated from each other. In other words kennels, crates, or even different rooms. We are always being told never feed the dogs together. I have five dogs and all of them eat at the same time in the same room without any problems.
Having said that do not do that straight away with new and existing dogs either adult or puppies until they have really bonded and got to know each other Until that time feed the dogs if possible simultaneously in separated areas, such as one in a crate and one out but in the same room. I never leave dogs food down longer than ten minutes, This type of free feeding makes dogs picky, as they realise they can eat at any time and wait for the special stuff to come along.
Puppies, Things to Remember
Do not just bring the puppy initially into the house to meet your existing dog, as this may cause problems related to territory.
Because the puppy may not have its 1st vaccination then you may be concerned about meeting in the meeting in a park.
If it has had its 1st vaccination you can check the area for faeces and it should be OK.
If not arrange with a friend or a neighbour to use their garden.
Many people are unaware that the 2nd vaccination is not a booster, it is an exact copy of the first set.
The reason they give this second set is that many years ago puppies were left to take the mothers milk until they were 8 or 9 weeks of age.
That meant that the antibodies in the milk could affect the efficiency of the first vaccination.
We now wean far younger and most pups are of the mother's mil by six or seven weeks old
Remember to get a toy or a cloth with the puppies scent on and put it in your existing dog's bed about a week before you pick up your puppy. Bring what is left of the tee shirt you left with the breeder, it will have the siblings, breeder and mothers scent. Put this it in the puppies bed or crate, you may also want to have a clock ticking and a radio left on to a talk station to give the puppy some comfort and reassurance.
The second thing that is required is that you must be sure to spend quality time with your established dog. You may even need to increase the frequency of normal activities you would have with your established dog.
This should keep him from feeling put out by the attention the newcomer is getting. Finally, be sure and do some activities with both dogs. This encourages the dogs to do fun things together, as well as fostering pack cohesion and communication.
Make sure that both dogs realise you control the household and all the resources in and out of the household. See (1) The Alpha Myth They will need to work out their own hierarchy themselves. Do not get involved in this process, as it may cause insecurity and possibly fights and bad feeling.
This is especially true if you support what appears to be the underdog. In a dogs World, rank and position are not really based on democracy, it is more a benevolent autocracy.
Having said that they must understand that you are the controller of resources and you are ultimately in charge of all that is good and important.I have other links to help you with your new puppy are shown below.
Stan Rawlinson 2004
Updated March 2019
(1) The Alpha Myth
(5) Ultimate Dog Crates.
(7) The Alpha Myth
(10) Leads and Collars