So you’ve decided to adopt another dog — congratulations! At Dog Quality, we believe adoption is a beautiful way to save the life of a dog in need of any age. We also know how exciting it is to bring a new fur baby into the family, but if you already have a senior dog at home, introducing your new pup into the home could take a little more time and patience than you think.
As much as you can’t wait for your two pups to be besties, your senior pup might not feel the same way. Your new dog will likely have a different temperament and personality than your senior dog, so might feel overwhelmed or stressed out by the new addition to the family. Don’t worry, though. There are steps you can take to make sure the transition goes as smoothly as possible.
As you prepare to introduce your senior dog to your new pup, follow our tips to ensure a safe and happy home for all.
Preparing Your Home for Another Dog
Getting ready to introduce your new doggo to your senior dog starts long before your two pups meet. First, you’ll want to prepare the home for a successful co-living environment — free from aggression or territorialism. Here’s what to do:
- Put all of your senior dog’s toys and treats away.
- Create separate places in your home where your two dogs can each have their own space.
- Have separate food and water dishes for your two dogs.
- Make sure both dogs are up to date on their vaccinations.
The First Meeting
After you’ve prepped your home for your new pup, it’s time to introduce your two furry friends. One of the biggest mistakes you can make during the first meeting is to bring your second dog directly into your home. Your senior dog is used to having the house to herself, so introducing a new pup into her space could cause unnecessary stress and aggression. That’s why we always recommend having the initial meeting outside of the home. Here’s how to do it:
- Find a neutral place, like a park, where your dog is used to seeing other dogs.
- Have both dogs on leash. You can hold your senior pup’s leash and a friend or family member can hold onto the new family member.
- Let the two dogs sniff each other and see how they react. Take note if either your senior dog or new dog shows any signs of stress or aggression. If so, separate the dogs.
- Most importantly, stay calm and positive during the first meeting. Your dogs will pick up on your energy, so keep things light and brief.
The first meeting should be relatively short. Just a quick meet-and-greet to give your pups a chance to adjust and give you an opportunity to prepare for potential challenges when you bring your new dog home. You could also take the two dogs on a brief walk, again with a friend to hold one of the dogs’ leashes to maintain a comfortable distance. Walking together will help to reduce tension and give your doggos a sense of their natural pack mentality.
Bringing Your Dog Home
Now that your dogs have met (hopefully) without issue, it’s time to bring your new pup into the home. Unless you’re extremely lucky, don’t expect the process to happen overnight. On top of helping your senior dog adjust to having a new doggo around, you’ll also be trying to support your new pup’s transition into the home. It can be a lot for all of you — your senior dog, new addition and yourself — to take on at once. To make things a little bit easier for you and your fur babies, here’s what you can do:
- Stick to your senior dog’s regular routine. Having another dog at home is already disrupting your older dog’s life enough, so it’s important to keep everything else as normal as possible.
- Create a routine for your new dog that works with your senior dog’s. Dogs thrive within structure, so get your dogs on a compatible feeding and walking schedule as soon as you can.
- Feed your dogs in separate areas. Keep your dogs’ bowls in different areas of the house to avoid aggressive behaviour.
- Monitor your dogs’ body language and behaviour. Watch out for signs of aggression (such as bared teeth, growling, snarling, or raised fur on the back of the neck) and take your dogs to their own separate spaces if needed.
- Never allow your dogs to fight. Play fighting is different than real fighting, so keep an eye on your dogs and separate them if they get aggressive with each other.
- Let your dogs play when they want. Playfulness is a natural part of any dog-to-dog relationship. If your dogs show interest in each other and want to play around, let them! It’s a healthy way for your pups to interact and get to know each other.
- Spend time with your dogs separately. Your senior pup is used to having you all to herself. While adding another dog will take a lot of time and energy, it’s important to spend quality time with your senior pup too.
When introducing a new dog to an older dog, it really comes down to common sense. Never force the dogs to spend time together, avoid aggressive interactions, and make sure your dogs each have a place to escape to if they need it. And most importantly, remember that it takes time for dogs to build a relationship. With a little patience and support from their loving owner, your two pups will be able to start their relationship off on the right foot (or should we say paw?).