As you may know, a new puppy recently joined my family. Our new puppy was 9 weeks old when he came home and Jackson is 2.5 years old. Although the age gap may not be too large, I was concerned about what introducing them to one another would look like.
Thankfully, the introduction went well in my home! But after the stress of that one moment, I wanted to create a list of tips for introducing your new puppy to your older dog.
Before The Introduction
Put away toys and dog bowls.
The last thing you need when bringing your new puppy home is for any territorial aggression to emerge. If your older dog has his own toys and an easily-accessed food dish, make sure those are put away. If these items are left in the open, your older dog could become territorial when your new puppy tries to investigate.
Prepare individual spaces for each dog.
It is a good idea to provide each pet with individual space. If you crate train your pets, it is a good idea to have separate crates.
In my home, Jackson uses the living room as his individual space and Tucker’s crate is in my bedroom. By doing this, your pets can have some time away from one another, which becomes very helpful if one dog begins to get irritated.
During The Introduction
Place both dogs on leashes.
When the dogs first meet, it can be helpful to have them both on leashes. This does not mean that you have to hold them close to you, but it is wise to have them on leash in case any type of aggression emerges so you can control the situation.
Dogs can read your body language. They understand when we feel stressed, and if your dog reads that stress in you, it may cause them to react similarly.
Let them get to know each other.
When you introduce your two furry friends, let them sniff each other. Let them smell all over, if need be. It may look strange and it may make you nervous, but this is how dogs get to know each other.
When I brought Tucker home, Jackson sniffed him for what felt like days!
After The Introduction
Watch them closely.
It is important to monitor your pets’ behavior when they are together. You need to ensure that are comfortable with one another, and if your puppy is much smaller than your older dog, you need to make sure that they are playing safely.
Maintain your old dogs routine.
You may have the instinct to change up your old dogs routine entirely to match the new puppy, but I would urge you not to do that. Your older dog has gotten used to the routine you have set for him and it may make him uncomfortable if you change that.
Create a new routine for your puppy.
Life would be grand if we could have the same routine for both a puppy and our older dogs, but sadly it doesn’t always work that way. For example, puppies need to be taken out way more often than older dogs do.
So, don’t feel concerned about establishing a new routine for your puppy. Tucker’s routine is entirely different than Jackson’s and they are doing very well (aside from the fractured leg, ha).
The last piece of advice that I can offer you is to enjoy this time. Your puppy won’t be a puppy for long, and although they can be a handful, you will miss seeing your older dog and his brand new sibling getting to know each other.
And if the stress of a new puppy getting comfortable with your older dog becomes too much for you, find a dog sitter and take some time for yourself! Once again, dogs can sense your stress.