So, you’re thinking of adopting a new puppy. Congratulations! But, if you already have an older dog, what will your older dog think?
When you already have a dog who’s been living with you for a long time, it can be challenging to get them used to a new four-legged family member.
This is especially true if the new family member is a young puppy. So, are you wondering how to introduce a puppy to a dominant dog? In this article, we’ll be laying out our best tips for bringing another dog into your family.
Where should I introduce the dogs?
Whenever you introduce any dogs, it’s crucial that you meet on neutral territory. This means you shouldn’t introduce the two dogs at home, and ideally shouldn’t introduce them on either dogs’ regular walking routes, either.
Instead, leash up both pooches and take them to a park. This will go a long way in helping the dogs see each other as equal.
What should I look out for?
When you’re first introducing your two dogs, there are a few red flags to look out for.As t hey greet each other, both dogs may appear calm. But, one subtle sign that a dog feels threatened or uncomfortable is the so-called ‘piloerection’.
This refers to the phenomenon of a dog’s hair standing up along their neck and spine. If one of the dogs exhibits piloerection, chances are they’ll bite the other dog pretty soon. If this happens, remove the dog from the situation.
As your puppy starts to get older, do not allow them to get into the habit of stealing the older dog’s treats and toys. This behavior can quickly lead to an increase in aggression from the older dog, especially when they no longer regard the younger dog as a puppy. Confiscate the items temporarily if this occurs.
If either dog mounts each other, presses down on the other dog’s head, or snaps at them, separate them until they calm down. Even if it seems like they’re just playing together, these dominating behaviors can quickly get out of hand.
How long until the dogs start to feel comfortable with each other?
It depends. It may appear that both dogs immediately take to each other, especially while your puppy is still young. They may play together peacefully. But later on, your older dog could stop tolerating boisterous traits that they didn’t seem to previously mind in your puppy.
Equally, both dogs may ignore each other for months or even years before starting to interact and get along more when they are older.
What if the dogs ignore one another?
So, both dogs have been properly introduced, yet they continue to ignore each other. What should you do about this?
Well, nothing. In most situations, your dogs will start to get to know each other and interact in their own time. So, unless one of the dogs is showing aggressive behavior, don’t worry.
Do not force them to play together or spend time together. If the dogs are not currently interacting, forced interaction could create a dangerous situation. Instead, just leave the two dogs to interact in their own time.
Should I feed the dogs together?
You may have heard that it’s a good idea to feed your puppy along with your older dog to help them get used to each other. To what extent is this a good idea?
Well, as long as there are no signs of food aggression from either dog, it’s acceptable and safe to feed them together. But, if you’re still feeding your younger dog puppy food, be sure to keep the bowls a short distance apart.
Should I let the dogs sleep together?
If both pooches have gotten used to each other, there is no reason why they shouldn’t sleep in the same room. But, don’t allow both dogs to sleep in the same bed or basket.
Instead, get both dogs crate-trained and have them spend the night in their respective crates. This will keep them safe from each other. Later on, when you are sure that you can trust both dogs, you can let the dogs sleep together.
Should I leave the dogs alone together?
So, both dogs seem to be tolerating each other or even playing together. When is it safe to start leaving your dogs alone together?
The short answer is never. Even if you are only heading out for a little while, or you will be in another room, you should never fully trust any dogs alone together.
If you want to leave your dogs alone together, make sure both dogs have a safe space to escape to and chill out. For example, a more agile dog could have access to a raised platform, or you could give your smaller puppy a crate or kennel with a small door.
Alternatively, keep both dogs crated or in separate rooms when you have to go out and leave them alone together.
What if the dogs fight each other?
Often when dogs appear to be fighting each other in a rather frightening way, they are actually just playing! If your dogs are fighting, especially after eating, resting, or during a game, likely, they are just playing together.
However, it can become unsettling when this behavior drags on and on. So, if you do want to separate your dogs, there are a few safe ways to go about it.
One such method of separation is the wheelbarrow method. In this method, two people come up behind either dog simultaneously and slowly pull each dog away from each other by their back legs.
You then both turn in a semicircle and trundle away, just as if you were operating real wheelbarrows! This is one of the most effective and safest methods of separating fighting dogs for yourselves and the dogs.
But if you don’t have another person around to help you at the time, you can also decide which dog the aggressor is by yourself. You can then pick up the more aggressive dog or lead them away backwards by their collar.
If one of the dogs has latched on to another and they aren’t letting go, you’ll have to find a way to safely break their grip. The best way to do this is to insert a sturdy flat stick in the side of the biting dog’s mouth.
Slide the stick down to as far back of the dog’s mouth as possible and begin to twist. Keep twisting until this dog releases their grip. However, only use this method as a last resort.