How to Introduce a Puppy to an Older Dog

Dogs are known as man’s best friend, providing companionship and even tangible protection from intruders in their homes.

More mature pets can be stubborn, however, often having an established routine in their territory.

But while you apparently can’t teach old dogs new tricks, teaching them how to welcome a canine newcomer into your family might be easier than you expect.

Read on if you’re considering bringing home a newcomer and wondering how to introduce a puppy to an older dog.

How to Introduce Your Dog to a New Puppy

Before planning to bring a puppy home, it’s important to know how to introduce the new puppy to older dogs who already live there.

Although adult dogs are always more than capable of welcoming a new canine friend, it is important to try to set yourself up for success.

Dr. Mary Burch, Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Director of Family Dogs for the American Kennel Club (AKC), believes that “the best introduction will be one that is calm and systematic.”

She said Newsweek“The one thing you don’t want to do when introducing your new puppy to your older dog is to put the puppy and the dog together and let them sort things out on their own.”

“Introduce your puppy and dog to a controlled situation…you can start with an introduction outside (in a neutral area) with the puppy and dog on a leash, then go inside the house.”

Poodle puppy playing with senior mastiff. Adopting a new puppy is an exciting time for pet parents.
red stallion / Getty Images

How to get dogs to get along

A good idea is to start the procedure by taking the two dogs on a long walk, each proceeding side by side, with a different handler for each animal.

Keep leashes loose and give dogs room to move, which will actually reduce any potential strain.

Once the dogs show a happy interest in meeting, allow the pair to properly approach each other in a suitable open space while keeping the leashes loose.

Dogs will sniff each other, which is widely recognized as good canine greeting etiquette.

Dogs eager to play together are a great sign of assimilation, so keep an eye out for canine language signaling good intentions. suggests that there are at least two ways to perceive the positive signs during this full meet-and-greet stage of dog introduction.

A well-known invitation for dogs is the “playing bow”, in which the tail goes up and the head goes down.

And watching a dog yawn is considered the “I’m not a threat” signal and can be a very positive sign from either dog.

However, watchers are warned: “Whines, barks and growls are used in both play and threats, so watch out for those.”

An elderly black Labrador dog PUPPY
If you have an older dog at home, you may be wondering how to introduce him to your new puppy.
ChrisAt/Getty Images

Bringing a New Puppy Home to Another Dog

Allowing the two dogs to eventually meet in the older dog’s home is the biggest step in the process, but the AKC’s Dr. Burch believes any drama can be minimized by following these steps.

Provide beds and toys around the house for both the older dog and the puppy and give them some attention when the puppy comes home.

If the puppy is active and bothering the older dog (eg jumping on his head, biting his ears), give him a place to go for a break.

Take short walks with both dogs on a leash. There should be two people, one walking each dog.

Keep the puppy and older dog some distance away. Eventually, dogs can be off leash together in a secure, fenced area.

In addition to common activities, provide the young dog with exercise to exhaust him. The puppy will sleep in the house and will not be a pest for the older dog.

Each day, do short and simple training sessions with both dogs, eg sit, lie down, etc.

Give the older dog a treat for a sit-up and give the puppy a treat while you lure him to sit. It will become a positive experience that both dogs will find challenging and fun.

Cute puppy and adult dog friendship
You can successfully meet a new and old dog with a little preparation.
Wavetop/Getty Images


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