How to Introduce a Puppy to a Dominant Dog
Knowing how to introduce a puppy to a dominant dog is important when trying to find the right fit for your family! One of the most stressful things about dog ownership can be adding a new member to your family. You may be ready to add another dog but not all dogs like the company of other dogs, and this is the most important thing to contemplate when considering adding a new family member.
If your dog doesn’t like other dogs while walking, at friends’ houses, or at the dog park chances are good that he will not enjoy the company of a dog in his territory or sharing his space and his family. The next thing to consider is size compatibility.
I would not encourage the owner of an adult Greyhound to get a Chihuahua!
A Chihuahua to a Greyhound might resemble a bunny too closely, or the prey he has been bred to hunt and kill.
Most often dogs do better with dogs of like size, or extreme caution must be taken to make sure smaller dogs are not injured by larger dogs.
Sex is also an important aspect of adding a new furry child.
Two intact males often grow up to have problems getting along especially when they reach sexual maturity, although neutered males can flourish together. Female dogs often prefer to live with members of the opposite sex. Some of the worst dog fights I have ever seen were between 2 adult female dogs. Intact male dogs often fight till one dog is seriously injured or there is a clear winner, however females often fight to the death.
Age is another vital aspect to consider. I don’t know how often I have heard the phrase “If you raise them right…”
Insinuating that a puppy can be trained to love or tolerate anything, but this simply is not the case. Puppies come with no guarantees and often, I believe, they are born with inherent temperaments and certain qualities that are not easily changed. Time and thought should be employed to try to find the best fit puppy possible.
Puppies can also be irritating, especially for older dogs!
An 11 or 12 year old dog may not want to be constantly poked and prodded by the exuberance of a pup, an adult dog may be a better fit for older or slower dogs. I love adult dogs and rescuing dogs, but it is just as important to make sure you find the right fit in an adult dog.
Because I have worked so much with adult shelter dogs as Service Dogs I find it easier to acclimate an adult dog into my pack.
Because an adult dog’s personality is already formed, and probably because I am a professional, I find much simpler to bring an adult dog home.
My main criteria are that the new dog cannot have any issues with my existing dogs.
My dogs can take a few days to adjust to having a new furry brother or sister, but I will not allow a new dog to come into my house and bully my animals! Temperament is also extremely important whether it be a puppy or an adult dog. Puppies are ever changing, the temperament of a puppy may not be the same as it ages and changes. That is what I like about picking out an adult dog, they have pretty much chosen who they want to be in life.
If I have an extremely dominant female dog at home (and I do) I would look for an easy going fairly submissive male adult or puppy to bring into my house.
If I pick a dog similar in personality to my already established female dog, we are probably going to have dominance problems at some point. Opposite personalities often get along best, as long as there is respect and no abuse going on i.e. I would never allow my girl to beat on the new dog or create a situation of abuse.
I would simply be looking for a dog that would tolerate and accept my female dog as pack leader. Once a dog or puppy has been chosen there should be an acclimation period where the established dog/dogs of the family can still feel like home is their territory. I recommend keeping both new adult dogs and puppies on leashes for at least a few weeks until the pack orientation is ironed out successfully and everyone is tolerant and accepting of each other.
I would never allow 2 new dogs to be together unsupervised in case a problem arose I would want to be there to witness it and make appropriate changes. As the already established pet, they should feel like their home and yard is still theirs and they are able to come and go without being constantly poked and prodded. If you allow the new dog or puppy free range, the problems of acclimation can become exasperated because the pet feels like he can never get away or have time to himself or one on one time with his family.
It is important when bringing in a new pet to ensure that the old pet still get all the time and attention he is used to; this will help to lessen the shock of a new situation.
Make sure you take your first pet out alone and often to get some one on one time while they are becoming accustomed to having a new brother or sister. This lessens the impact and his feelings of change.
Change is difficult for everyone, including our pets, and it is important to make sure that their schedules and lives remain as normal as possible when integrating a new animal into their lives. If you follow these steps and really put some thought and effort into getting a new dog, you should be successful with the integration and the building of your new family! If you are diligent and careful the added family member will become an important asset to your family!
Introducing a new Puppy to Your Older Dog
How you handle the introductions between puppies and older dogs largely depends on your resident senior’s personality.
Does he generally like and tolerate other dogs or pets?
If so, chances are good that he won’t take an instant dislike to the ‘new kid on the block’ (but that could still change once he realizes the new kid is here to stay!). Even if you’re sure that Fido won’t hate Fido Jr. on sight, take the introductions slowly and have another person on hand to help things run smoothly.
~~ Most dogs will want to thoroughly sniff the new arrival, and will stick to him like glue wherever he goes.
~~ Expect some excitement, maybe a little rough play, even some growling (usually on your senior dog’s part).
~~ Puppies and older dogs have entirely different social skills and playing styles, and it takes a while for them to understand, and accept each other’s quirks.
~~ Luckily, most dogs recognize a puppy and make allowances for the inexperience of youth!
The seniors tolerate more and are usually fairly gentle in their reprimands. Unfortunately puppies don’t have this sixth-sense to guide them and tend to ‘hound’ the older dog and cross all social boundaries without a backward glance! Older dogs may be wise and tolerant, but they’re not saints… and puppies who step too far over the line, or do it too often, will be corrected.
If the first more gentle correction doesn’t work, growling, nipping or even physical dominance will be used.
In this sort of combination it’s best to let the two of them sort things out for themselves as much as possible… but don’t leave them alone together for at least the first couple of weeks, just to be safe.
Step in only if you’re truly worried that one of them is going to get hurt (and it’s not always the puppy who’s most at risk).
When that happens, correct them both, separate them for a while, and redirect each combatant’s attention with calm one-on-one play, or cuddles.
Is he just a little unsociable?
If your older dog isn’t keen on interacting with other dogs you could have your work cut out for you to convince him that the new puppy is a good idea. This doesn’t mean it’s not possible to do…. in fact, sometimes an old dog will surprise you with his acceptance, tolerance, and love for the new arrival. But don’t go into this expecting that to happen, be prepared to have to work at it!
With a resident dog who isn’t Mr. Congeniality, it often helps to make the initial introductions on neutral ground (to avoid aggressive behavior).
The (dogless) home of a relative or friend is a good choice, or a quiet corner of a local park (but only if the new pup is fully vaccinated so he won’t pick up a disease).
You want it to be somewhere that your senior dog is already familiar with and feels comfortable in, and someplace fairly quiet.
That will keep the emotional level of the meeting low-key.
~~ Have someone else hold the pup while you stay with your senior.
~~ Don’t ‘push’ them together, let any sniffing and investigation come naturally.
~~ If the pup gets too pushy, or your dog too defensive, step back and regroup.
~~ Talk quietly and reassuringly to your older dog and encourage him to be gentle.
Once these initial introductions are made you can head for home, together. Walk both dog and puppy in at the same time, with your resident dog leading the way. This helps to reinforce the pack structure, without allowing your golden oldie to get territorial.
Then allow the two of them to interact as naturally as possible, with you supervising at all times. If things get rough, one of them gets upset, or they get too snippy with each other, reprimand them gently but firmly, and give them both some alone time. As your older dog isn’t naturally a social butterfly, make sure he gets plenty of quiet time away from the newbie, or he could feel overwhelmed and anxious.
Don’t leave puppies and older dogs like this alone together for several weeks, you need to be absolutely sure they’re friends before taking that chance.
Beyond The Introductions….
The first couple of days, or up to a week, are usually the most challenging. By the end of that period most puppies and older dogs will have accepted the presence of the other one, and will be on the way to working out a relationship. Not ALL dogs will adjust this fast, some can take weeks, but others will enjoy each other’s company from day one.
So much depends on their individual personalities, that there’s really no way to tell ahead of time how it will go. But in addition to the tips above, there are some other things that you can do to help the two of them get along.
1) Prevent Squabbles: Avoid arguments over ‘resources’ such as toys by making sure there are plenty to go around. Don’t just give Fido Jr. the shiny new ones either, make sure your senior dog has his own new, and special, toys. Don’t let the pup ‘steal’ any either!
2) Have Special Time With Each One: Make sure each dog has special one-on-one time with you, and other family members. If your senior dog is closely bonded with you, or another specific family member, have the rest of the family interact with the puppy more so that Fido doesn’t lose his BFF. This can head-off jealousy, especially on your older dog’s part.
3) Find Outlets for Puppy Energy: There’s a lot of truth in the old saying ‘A tired puppy is a good puppy’, so do make sure that Fido Jr. gets plenty of exercise. It will make him less of a strain on your old dog’s nerves. But don’t play a hectic game of ‘fetch’ in the backyard which your old dog can’t join in, but is left to watch from inside. Be creative, and empathetic in finding ways to exercise Jr. without upsetting Snr.
4) Watch for Changes as Puppy Grows: Although older dogs will tolerate puppies, even when they misbehave, at some point their ‘get out of jail free’ card expires. This usually happens when the pup becomes an adolescent (imagine the friction between a teenager and parent/guardian). Be ready to correct any misbehavior or over-reactions (by pup or senior) and act as referee for a while.
5) Take Your Older Dog’s Health into Account: All dogs are different, and some seniors are hale and hearty, while others are more frail and fa….. (Okay I won’t go there!). Seriously though, not every senior dog is healthy enough for a new puppy playmate.
What’s Normal and When Should I Worry?
If the doggie status-quo hasn’t changed much in your home for a while, you might be wondering what to expect when puppies and older dogs get together.
Or maybe your senior dog is your first dog, and you’ve never tried to ‘blend’ a canine family before.
Either way, there are bound to be times when you wonder, “Is this dog’s behavior normal?”
So, here are some of the things you’re likely to see, and a rough guide as to whether they’re normal, or something you need to get help with.
Your older dog chases, bites or hurts your puppy
This is NOT normal, with one caveat… during the first day or so, older dogs may sniff the pup a lot, and follow him around. But this following will be fairly casual, and take the form of curiosity or caution… he wants to know what this strange little dog is doing, and what he smells like! An adult dog who stalks around after the pup on stiff legs, with his ears back, and possibly growling or stomping on the pup, isn’t feeling curious or cautious.
He’s not happy. You need to watch your dog’s behavior carefully and don’t leave the two of them alone, not even for a minute. If your older dog rushes at the pup, bites him, shakes him, or generally treats him too roughly (and not in a playing kind of way), you need to reprimand him and separate them.
When this happens, interaction should be a little less hands-on, perhaps put the pup in a playpen, or use a baby-gate to keep him in the laundry room or mud room, out of harm’s way. But still allow the older dog to see and sniff him through the mesh or bars….
…. this way they’ll get used to each other from a safe distance to begin with. If, after a few days, you reintroduce them face to face and your older dog still acts as though he thoroughly dislikes the pup, you may need to rethink the situation.
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.