So, you've finally made the decision to get a new puppy. You've done your research, changed your mind a thousand times, but now you're dead set on getting a second bundle of love. There's just one problem...
You already have an older dog!
It's a common worry for dog owners considering a new puppy. Will they get along? Is it unfair to my current dog? It really can cause sleepless nights.
However, there's no need to worry. The fact that you're even considering a new puppy means that you think your older dog will likely take to them. You know their temperament best, and if there was a definite problem you wouldn't have made it this far.
With a little bit of tact, and a lot of patience, introducing a new puppy to your older dog doesn't have to be too difficult.
Here are a few tips to make the whole thing a little easier:
Firstly, it's important that you believe that the situation will work. Otherwise, it's not going to be fun!
It's natural that you're a little anxious, but you don't want the dogs to sense this. Your older dog knows you inside out, and your pup will be as nervous as you - they're going to be relying on you to be calm.
Remember, there's no point in worrying before anything happens. You'll drive yourself crazy!
As much as we say that you shouldn't panic, it's important that you prepare for the first meeting. Well, first impressions count, right?
First of all, make sure that both animals are up to date with their vaccinations and have been treated for worms and parasites. This is particularly important if the new puppy is a rescue dog.
You also need to make sure that you're properly kitted out. Obviously, your older dog will have everything that they need, and you don't want them to feel forced to share with the puppy. You'll need feeding bowls, toys, and a bed as the minimum.
The more prepared you are, the less stressed you'll be - and it'll make it that bit easier for the dogs too!
Ease Them In
This is a big one, and again you need to plan ahead.
You need to try and make the new puppy feel comfortable, whilst ensuring that you're not neglecting your older dog. If you get a rescue dog, it's a little easier - introduce them on a walk together, let them get familiar, then head back home. When home, keep the new dog on their lead while they explore initially. You don't want them to intrude on your older dog's space.
However, if you opt for a new puppy, it's likely that they won't be allowed outside until they've had all of their vaccinations. In this instance, start by holding the puppy on your lap and encouraging your older dog to come over and meet them. Only when you're sure that they're good with each other should you put the puppy down and let them play freely.
It's important that you encourage your older dog and make them feel comfortable in the situation. With a bit of nurturing, they'll soon take to their adopted brother or sister!
Watch Their Behaviour
It's important that you're present while your new puppy integrates with your existing dog, for your peace of mind as much as theirs.
It's important that the dogs approach each other naturally, and you should never force them together. Let them do it in their own time.
Your older dog will probably assert their dominance while the new puppy behaves submissively, licking their muzzle or lying down and rolling over, for example. This is nothing to worry about. Similarly, your older dog may snap or bark, as they maintain control over the situation. Again, this is completely normal, and should be encouraged.
It's a good idea to stand with your legs slightly apart. This will let your puppy know that they can protect themselves safely behind them.
Of course, if your older dog continues to act aggressively then it's best to remove them from the situation. But, don't worry about that for now - well socialised dogs will explore the new addition, then either try to engage or completely ignore them.
Throughout the whole process, the key is to always maintain your control. You're the boss, and you want the dogs to know it!
When they play well together, reward them. If one snaps, discipline them. It's vital that you're fair and balanced, and that they feel like they're being treated as equals.
Introducing a new puppy to your older dog can be a daunting prospect, but it really doesn't have to be. If you follow these simple steps, you'll find the process a lot easier, and will soon have a happy, multi-dog home!
If you're balancing multiple dogs with a full time job, perhaps Tailster can help. We have a network of dedicated carers and walkers across the UK who can walk and care for your dog as and when required. For more information on our full service, click here.