If you already have a dog in your home or family members visit with their dogs, then introducing your puppy to other dogs can be a challenge or unfamiliar territory. Maybe you’re worrying about when your puppy can safely meet other dogs or finding the thought of it all a bit daunting?
We get it, your existing dog has been your baby for so long, you don’t want them to feel left out, do you? You also want your puppy to feel included and part of the family though, right?
If you have a new puppy who hasn’t seen any other puppies or dogs since their litter, it can be a worry. They can seem very small and fragile around big dogs, you could be worried about them hurting your puppy?
Well stress no more, we’re here to ease your worries, in this article we’ll cover all of your burning questions including:
- How do I get my older dog to accept a new puppy?
- How do I start introducing my puppy to other dogs?
- When can puppies meet other dogs?
Just follow our tips throughout this article and you’ll also find out:
- Why it’s important to introduce puppies and dogs,
- How to have a positive experience introducing your puppy to dogs
- Some top tips on things to look out for.
If you’d like to talk through how to introduce a puppy to a dog with a fully qualified puppy trainer, download the Zigzag puppy training app and contact one of the puppy coaches. They’re available 7 days a week for you on WhatsApp, Email or sometimes it’s nice to just have a chat on the phone, so you can call them too.
Why it’s important to introduce puppies and dogs
Who doesn’t love a well thought out intro at a party vs being chucked in at the deep end with a bunch of strangers? Well, dogs are no different. They’re social creatures, but they also value personal space, and we need to take care when introducing puppies and dogs that it all goes A.O.K.
Puppies need to meet other dogs during their socialisation period to perceive them as friends and not foes. Introducing your puppy to other dogs during this important developmental period means they won’t react fearfully when they see them. When your puppy meets other dogs, they will also learn a lot about canine communication and how they should behave through their body language.
But when can my puppy meet other dogs? We know, you’re keen to introduce your puppy to other dogs now! Well, if you know the other dog is fully vaccinated then you can let your puppy meet them before they are fully vaccinated. If not, wait until the vet says it’s safe for you to do so.
Our 6 step guide on how to introduce puppies and dogs
When introducing a puppy to other dogs it’s good to think about a few things and have a plan, we want any introductions to go smoothly. So, here’s our detailed step by step advice so when your puppy meets other dogs it will be a ‘walk in the park’.
1) Your place or mine? Actually neither!
Always do dog introductions on neutral territory. It sounds so obvious when you think about it, after all, you wouldn’t want a stranger unannounced rushing into your house would you? But, this is actually a common way for people to introduce dogs to one another. Or, they bring a new puppy into their home, and expect the older dog to be totally fine with it. Sorry, but this is not the best way to get your older dog to accept your new puppy.
Meeting on neutral territory (and for a brand new puppy utilising a friend’s garden) is the way to go. That way, neither dog feels territorial about their own space or anxious about going into a resident dog’s territory.
If your puppy is already going for walks and you’re introducing them to a new dog, then this next step is great to see if the dogs will get along.
2. Parallel walking
Once you’ve met in the park, it can be an idea to do some parallel walking so that the dogs can walk beside one another calmly, and get even more used to each other. Being on lead keeps everyone safe and you can spot whether the dogs may or may not be getting along.
3. Meet and Greet
That’s code for sniffing butts! But truly, they need time to suss each other out. When introducing your puppy to other dogs use a long line so that your puppy can move freely while still keeping them safe.
4. Keep things short and sweet
Reward your puppy and the other dog, a lot, for coming away from each other. This ensures that tension doesn’t build up and they have time to take a break and get away from one another. Meeting new dogs can be stressful for your puppy, and not all adult dogs are big puppy fans, so it’s good to let them have a couple of minutes’ rest from the ball of spinning fluff. Some older dogs do find puppies’ energy really annoying.
5. Don’t tell the older dog off
If it gets to the point where the older dog is snapping or telling your puppy off, this is a clear signal that both dogs need a break. To get an older dog used to the puppy, they need to learn that nice things happen when the puppy is around, so avoid telling them off and instead reassure them and give them lots of praise for interacting positively.
6. Make sure both dogs have separate areas at home
If you’re trying to get your older dog to accept your new puppy, or if you’re going to a friend’s house, or even if you’ve just gone to a cafe with the new dog, then make sure the dogs have space to sleep apart from one another.
Conflict over resources is a huge reason why dogs fight with one another, especially if they’re new buddies and haven’t had much chance to get used to each other. A resource is anything the dog perceives as valuable. Resources include water and food bowls, treats, and people!
Making sure each dog has their own food and water area. Also make sure to give each plenty of your affection when they’re apart, this will help things go swimmingly too. You can use puppy pens, crates or baby gates, so that both dogs get enough time apart.
Things to look out for during this stage/time
When introducing your puppy to new dogs, it is essential to remember a few key points so that everything goes smoothly.
Check both dogs body language and look out for signs of stress
Dog body language tells a tale about how they’re feeling, and they express this to other dogs as well.
Look for subtle stress signs like yawning, lip licking, averting their gaze, panting, and give everyone a break if you see these.
Keep your puppy safe
If your puppy runs over to you for reassurance or seems to be always around your feet it can be a sign that they’re not comfortable. Some dogs can be a bit full on in their play style, which your puppy might not like, or they can also be bullies and enjoy bossing a puppy around too!
No need for your puppy to meet every dog
Just because there’s a dog on the street, doesn’t mean that your puppy has to go and say hello. Seeing a dog across the road counts as socialisation too, and by not giving your puppy the expectation that they can say hello to everyone, you’ll have fewer problems with frustration in the future.
Try and avoid on lead introductions
Dogs have a fight or flight system, and generally, when they’re on the lead they can’t flee (run away) so they can end up having to act defensively. More than a couple of seconds of that on lead greeting, and things can quickly go sour, leads get tangled, or go tight and everyone ends up a bit fraught. If you really have to say hi, do a quick hello and then move on.
Introduce your puppy to calm adult dogs
We know you love watching puppies play, we do too, but the truth of it is they don’t stay puppies for long, so they need introducing to adult dogs and learn to interact with them, much more than they do with puppies their own age. Of course, if you’re going to puppy classes, this can be a great way of letting puppies get together and play.
We hope that’s helped you figure out how you might introduce a puppy to a dog. While you’re here you might want to check out our article on how to cope with your puppy’s first week.