If you have an older dog, you’ve likely contemplated introducing another dog to your family.
Getting a second dog can make your older dog’s golden years brighter and often provide a spark to give him new energy. Having a multiple-dog household can make your life easier as they amuse and entertain each other.
Usually, grown dogs will accept a new, younger dog. To add a second dog, introduce a puppy to an adult dog by taking time and following proper steps.
Some older dogs will make joining their pack difficult for the newbie! The older dog expects the newcomer to earn their place.
Your task will be to balance the needs of both dogs.
When helping the new dog adjust, ensure you do not make the older dog feel sad or jealous. Avoid actions that may make the older dog feel replaced.
Introducing a new dog to the pack
Most dogs naturally get along, so having multiple dogs in one home is simple.
How long does it take for a dog to adjust to a new dog? There is 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.
Intelligent 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.
Pay attention to dog body language to identify signs that indicate they feel threatened or watch for problem dog behavior.
Especially watch for behavior problems or signs of aggression if the puppy tries to dominate the adult dog. If the puppy is problematic, you must focus on obedience training and teach your dog the house rules.
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.
Demonstrating your leadership skills teaches both dogs the importance of listening to and following you.
Both dogs have something in common: seeing you as the boss.
Let your older dog see good things happen when the puppy is around.
Introducing a new dog to a jealous dog
Pay attention and watch for any signs the old dog fears the puppy. This may happen if the puppy is larger or the older dog is less mobile due to age or illness.
Do not let the older dog attack the 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.
Watch for signs of resource guarding. Don’t let either dog become possessive of toys or other objects.
Separate but equal
If you have multiple dogs, you may consider separating them during mealtime or bedtime. You can do this by using different rooms or baby gates.
This creates a neutral location so the dogs don’t have to feel like they are competing.
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, they gracefully bow out.
Let them enjoy playing with each other, not you. Dogs learn quickly, so stay calm and set a good example.
Watch the dogs’ interactions to make sure neither is misbehaving.
Enroll the puppy in positive reinforcement and punishment-free obedience classes. See if you can also bring the senior dog.
If your older dog misbehaves after getting another dog, you must address the issue 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.
Safely resolve conflicts
Understand conflicts are natural when introducing a new dog into an existing pack.
Dogs have an instinct to establish dominance within their social hierarchy, which can lead to territorial disputes and aggression.
This behavior may be more evident in older dogs who are used to being the only pet.
Introducing the new dog under controlled circumstances helps ease tensions.
Keep both dogs on leashes during initial interactions to control the situation if things get out of hand.
Keep interactions short and positive, such as walking together or playing with toys separately but in the same room.
Training your old and new dogs together can help establish a sense of unity while reinforcing good behavior.
Positive reinforcement techniques such as rewarding good behavior with treats or praise will encourage them to get along better.
If conflicts arise, don’t punish either dog, as this could aggravate their behavior or cause them to fear you.
Instead, try redirecting their focus to something like a toy or treat until they calm down.
Remember always to prioritize the safety and well-being of both pets while resolving conflicts between them.
Bottom line on adding a new dog
Allowing nature to take its course when bringing a new dog home 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 must earn trust and respect and learn to understand his place in the pack.
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.