Dogs | March 23, 2015

When one puppy becomes two… or three!


For many people dogs are an age-old addiction. Just like potato chips and candy, it can be hard to have just one! If it’s time to bring another puppy into your household, there are things to consider for the sake of your ‘firstborn’ older fur kid and for the safety and happiness of your new addition.

Firstly, don’t expect your older dog to welcome the puppy with open paws and take him under his/her wing. Much will depend on the age and temperament of your older dog, but it is rare to find a mature dog who is overjoyed at having to share their owner and their home with a young whippersnapper of a puppy. While many already established dogs will be more tolerant of the new youngster, you can also expect that the new puppy will need to be ‘put in his place’ a number of times. Puppies have underdeveloped communication and social skills, so far the only other dogs they have had to ‘read’ are their littermates and their mother, so they must be shown the ‘rules of the road’ by your older dog.

It’s important to closely monitor your new puppy while they begin to interact with your established dog. A growl or a curled lip, as a warning to the puppy that he has overstepped his boundaries, should not be disciplined.  However, you will need to step in if it looks like the puppy didn’t get the message and is pushing the envelope to the point where he may be harmed.

Even before your new addition meets his new ‘best buddy’ it’s a good idea to find a way for them to be in the same area, but with a degree of separation. You can put either the adult dog or the puppy in a crate, behind a gate in a separate room, or in an exercise pen (x-pen) to begin with. Limited periods of direct exposure to each other will ensure that your older dog doesn’t get to the point of no return with his patience, and the puppy will learn to be happy with his own company for periods of time. Times of direct exposure to each other can gradually be increased over two or three weeks.

Once your new pup and older dog have been properly introduced and are spending more time together, it’s really important that both of them have a place of sanctuary where they can escape to when they have had enough of each other. (This is also important in the case of small children and pets).  Proper and positive crate training is very handy. Many older dogs, and even puppies, will voluntarily retreat to their crate, bed or x-pen when they need some alone time and this is an ideal no-go zone for children and other pets in the house.

A Cautionary Word
Not all mature dogs will tolerate puppies. Period. Ever! While your puppy is learning his new social and communication skills, there will be times when he is downright obnoxious. If your older dog reacts to a squeal or yip from the puppy by becoming more agitated, then you need to step in and separate them immediately before harm befalls your puppy.

Harmony at last
After two or three weeks, you should begin to notice some signs of harmony between your older dog and the puppy. If you have done your job in properly introducing the puppy and enhancing his communication skills then hopefully a great friendship will evolve, or at least an air of tolerance will settle over your house – even peaceful co-habitation is a great accomplishment!