Introducing Puppy to Your Older Dog: The Secret to Successful Socialization

Having a canine companion is one of the greatest blessings of friendship outside the human circle. While pooches grow even more lovable each day, there may come a time when a pup parent entertains the idea of doubling the fun and bonding by adding another dog to the household. If you were or are one of those people, you’ll understand how wonderful it can be to have two furry friends roaming the house.

Yet, it can take some time for that bond to form – just as an older child may experience adjustment issues when a sibling arrives, the same goes for pups. Dogs are inherently pack animals and thus territorial issues are not only normal, but to be expected. And since your older dog is likely to be larger than your puppy, the attempt to assert physical dominance is likely.

But don’t fret – with hard work, patience and understanding, establishing a healthy rapport between your two pooches is possible. And once they get used to each other, get the camera ready because there will be so many opportunities to capture adorable moments of the two playing, sleeping or eating together. Follow these tips to successfully socialize a new puppy with an older dog.

Let Your Older Dog Lead
introducing-older-thumbnailSince your older dog has been with you for quite some time, you will be in a good position to gauge if she has aggression issues that could make a two-dog household more trouble than harmonious. Assess how your dog behaves towards other dogs and animals in your area. Has your older dog gotten into brawls with other dogs? Another factor to consider is that puppies are extremely high energy and their desire to play may come as a bother to your older dog who has more of a mellow demeanor. An annoyed older dog may either walk away (best case scenario) or throw her weight around and retaliate by snapping or growling.

Remember The Pack Animal Mentality
Your older dog may be the tamest and most obedient canine you have encountered, but a pack animal will always want the group to know she’s boss. Therefore, when you first introduce your dogs, make sure they’re both held firmly on leashes by two different individuals and separated by sufficient space. Do not let the two dogs interact unsupervised until they’ve had adequate time to get to know each other and are comfortable with each other’s presence.

Crate or Confine Puppy to Designated Space
Since your older dog has rightfully established her territory long before your new puppy’s arrival, a key factor for their peaceful co-existence is to either crate train or confine your puppy to a gated-off area for the first few months. This will not only serve to prevent messes and destruction, but also teach your puppy to respect your older dog’s personal domain. By allocating different areas of your home to both dogs, they will grow accustomed to a safe and comfortable roommate situation, and eventually a loving canine relationship.

Leverage The Canine Sense of Smell
While you likely already know that a dog’s sense of smell is highly sensitive, you may not know there’s a unique way to use that adorable snout to your advantage when it comes to assimilating a new dog into a dominant dog residence. Before the dogs meet face-to-face, give your new puppy a blanket or toy to sleep with, ideally for a couple of nights, so the blanket or toy is saturated in his smell. Then give that blanket or toy to your adult dog to get her acquainted and familiar with the new puppy smell. This simple technique will facilitate easier bonding and friendship.

Rest assured, once your two pups are socialized, you’re in for a special treat. Your furry children will eventually love having each other’s company when home alone, playing together outside or snuggling up together for comfort.