If you have an older dog, you’ve likely contemplated introducing a new dog to your family.
Adding a second dog can make your older dog’s golden years brighter and often provides a spark to give him new energy. Having two dogs can make your life easier as they amuse and entertain each other.
Usually, grown dogs will accept a new younger dog. But to successfully add a second dog to your family, you must take the time and follow the proper steps to introduce a puppy to an adult dog.
Some older dogs will make joining their pack difficult for the newbie! As far as the older dog is concerned, the newcomer must earn their place.
Your task will be to balance the needs of both dogs. While you work to help the second dog adjust, you don’t want to make the older dog feel depressed or jealous that he’s being replaced.
Introducing a new dog to the pack
The good news is most dogs instinctively get along, so it’s relatively easy to create a multiple-dog household.
How long does it take for a dog to adjust to a new dog? There’s no hard and fast timeline. It all depends on the dogs and their energy levels.
Let your older dog take the lead. If your older dog growls at the puppy or ignores him, he displays his leader status. He wants the newcomer to understand he was there first. Typically, the puppy instinctively learns to respect the older dog’s authority.
But to get to that point, there may be some drama with growling and snapping when you add a second dog.
The good news is it rarely gets more severe than that.
Stay out of it unless you see it getting out of hand and fear one dog will injure the other. By interfering, you disrupt the natural order of pack psychology and survival.
Smart puppies will back down out of respect. Usually, the puppy will accept the relationship’s terms, and there will be less drama and more peace.
But if the puppy tries to dominate the adult dog, if the new dog is aggressive towards the resident dog, or if you see the new dog not getting along with the older dog, you’ll need to focus more on obedience training with the puppy.
Help the dogs bond
Wondering whether your dog needs a companion?
And if so, how can my older dog accept the new puppy?
A terrific way to help your dogs bond is to walk them together. If they are similar in size, you can use a leash coupler when you walk.
By demonstrating your leadership skills, you instill in both dogs the importance of listening to and following you.
Let your older dog see good things happen when the puppy is around.
Introducing a new dog to a jealous dog
Also, watch for any signs the old dog fears the puppy. This may happen if the puppy is larger or the older dog has become less mobile due to age or illness.
Do not let the older dog attack the new puppy; think twice before introducing a new dog to an aggressive dog.
Also, consider the gender of the dogs. You are more likely to have problems if you have two female dogs or two male dogs.
Separate but equal
When you have multiple dogs, you may need to use separate rooms or baby gates to separate them when they need to eat or sleep.
It’s also a good idea to use separate water bowls and food bowls and, if necessary, feed the dogs at different times.
Find a few joint fun exercises and games both dogs will enjoy doing together. As they playfully interact with each other, gracefully bow out. Let them focus on and enjoy playing with each other, not you.
Enroll in positive reinforcement and punishment-free obedience classes. Just because your older dog is not doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy puppy kindergarten. And if your older dog starts exhibiting bad behavior after getting a second dog, you need to fix that problem immediately.
If your younger dog is too rambunctious for your older dog, consider using interactive toys to tire him out.
Usually, your older dog will be a great role model for your second dog.
Puppies love learning by “monkey see, monkey do.” And socialization with other dogs and puppies in your class will benefit both.
Schedule a session with a professional dog trainer if your dogs struggle to get along.
Be patient. Letting nature take its course and bringing a new dog home to another dog works well if you allow the old dog and a second dog to adjust independently.
Letting the dogs establish their relationship reinforces the puppy’s inherent pack instincts. The puppy will learn trust and respect and understand his place in the pack has to be earned.
And, you may find a new companion energizes an older dog and makes him more playful again. Usually, adding a second dog is a winning situation for everyone.
Karen A. Soukiasian owns Good Dog! — Dog Training in St. Augustine, Florida. You can follow Karen on Facebook.