How to introduce a puppy to your pets
Dogs are pack animals with a dominance hierarchy. One dog leads and the others fall in rank behind him. If you’re introducing a new puppy to your dog or other pets, he’ll need to find his place in the pack and you can help him out.
Puppies and adult dogs
It’s best to introduce a new puppy to your adult dog in a place that’s new to both of them. Because dogs are territorial by nature, you want them to meet on equal footing rather than on your original dog’s home turf. If possible, have two people help out by handling your dog and puppy for you. You don’t want either of them to think you’re playing favorites. Let them sniff around and check each other out while you talk to them softly. Watch for body language that could signal aggression, which includes:
- Stiff-legged walking
- Barred teeth or growling
- Ears laid back or raised hair on the neck or back
- One dog trying to mount the other
If you notice any aggressive behavior, distract the dogs and lead them away from each other. Let them cool off and introduce them again a little later. If the meeting goes well, take them both for a walk.
The key to introducing a puppy to your dog is to be alert and in control at all times. If you have more than one other dog, they should meet your puppy one at a time. This will allow you to stay in control and reduce some of the tension in their first encounter.
Always be present to supervise your dogs when they’re with your new puppy. If you can’t be around, separate them or put them in their crates. Allow at least a month before you allow them to be alone together. Things may look peachy, but once the pack leader is away, i.e. you, they may jockey for position. That means potential aggressive behavior. It only takes an instant for an older dog to injure your puppy. Be particularly wary if you’re unsure whether your older dog has been properly socialized with other dogs. You may be creating a dangerous situation by putting with your puppy.
Introducing your puppy to a cat
Introducing a new puppy to your cat is fairly simple; you should allow the cat to determine the tenor of the meeting. You should designate areas that are off-limits to your puppy. This will give your cat “safe zones” and keep her from feeling evicted by your puppy. Don’t leave them unsupervised until you’re very sure they can get along. Watch for any aggressive behavior by either animal.
If your puppy starts to chase the cat, don’t allow the behavior to continue but don’t punish your puppy either. Simply get his attention with a treat or toy. He’s likely reacting to his natural prey drive and you don’t want to instill fear over an ingrained behavioral pattern. If your cat roughs up the puppy, don’t punish the cat. Your puppy has to learn where the boundaries are in their relationship.
Stay alert and let the introductions progress slowly. Don’t force the meeting or expect your new puppy and cat to be the best of friends overnight.
A new puppy and other pets
Your puppy should be introduced to all the other pets in your house including birds, hamsters, guinea pigs, snakes, and anything else. Of course you don’t want to activate the prey drive in your new puppy by setting your hamster down on the floor for him to chase. But your puppy should be aware of who and what is in his new territory.
If you stay alert and keep meetings relaxed and controlled, introducing a new puppy to your dog, cat, and other pets should be pleasantly uneventful.