If you’ve ever ventured to the doggy park, you’ve seen how antsy dogs can get when encountering one another for the first time. This is entirely understandable and normal for random encounters, but what about introducing a new puppy to the dogs you already have? Adding another furry friend to the family can be a daunting activity not only for the dogs but also the humans involved. Fortunately, there are some effective and straightforward steps to take that will ease anxiety at the point of introduction and begin a long and fruitful relationship between your dogs.
First and foremost, ensure that you have complete control of the situation by making sure both dogs are leashed. This is still a necessary precaution even if you have a fully trained dog that is used to being off-leash. You never know how your dog is going to react to the puppy, so eliminate all doubt with a trusty leash. Second, plan a leisurely walk for both dogs to get used to each other in a relaxed manner. Keep the dogs single file at first, making sure that there is ample space between both parties. It will be extremely tempting to let them sniff each other, but do not allow this to happen just yet. Keep in mind that the dogs’ emotions and anxieties will be fresh and poignant after the initial introduction. Give them plenty of time to become accustomed to one another’s presence. If the introduction is going smoothly after fifteen to twenty minutes, you can begin to let the dogs get closer and sniff one another. Play on the side of caution, however, especially if your dog has a history of aggression.
A relaxed, happy, and positive human temperament is exceedingly important during the first introduction. Dogs are incredibly well tuned to reading human emotions, so make sure to keep them as relaxed as possible. Praise both dogs as much as possible, using a soothing and supportive voice during the introduction. Dogs are most social when the humans involved display a calm, yet assertive disposition – don’t forget this. Also, fill a backpack with plenty of treats as a means of generating positive reinforcement and don’t refrain from using them liberally. This is a simple and effective way to dilute the anxiety of the situation.
If everything has gone smoothly up to this point, it’s time to let the dogs walk next to each other and explore their curiosities some more. This will allow further familiarization between the dog and the puppy on the leisurely walk. Hopefully this walk can last as long as 30-45 minutes so that the two have purposeful and healthy way to get to know each other. Now the two should be able to enjoy each other’s company indoors, but refrain from leaving the two outside alone just yet. That’s a lesson for another day.