Your dog may be your best friend, but how do you make sure a new household puppy becomes your best friend’s best friend?
“Introducing a puppy to an older dog can be a good idea,” says Dan Kierstead from Wasatch Mountain Cane Corsos. “If the older dog has the temperament and does not seem bothered, this could be great for the puppy because dogs adopt behaviors, so the older dog could train the puppy.”
“If the older dog is aggressive, then this is not a good idea, unless it is handled by a professional,” says Kierstead. “A puppy would adopt those aggressive behaviors. Because dogs run in packs, some dogs have a big ‘rank drive.’” Rank drive refers to a dog’s need to determine where he fits in the pack. “If the older dog is not aggressive, then the puppy can learn from the dog, but all of this needs to be supervised.”
Kierstead suggests the following:
1 – Sleeptime: Make sure the puppy’s kennel is placed right next to where the older dog
sleeps. This way, you don’t disturb where the older dog sleeps, and when the puppy needs to go to the bathroom, both can go together and the older dog will help guide the puppy.
2 – Meals: Always feed the older dog first. This shows the older dog that he holds his place.
3 – Toys: Some dogs are good with sharing their toys, others are not. If the older dog doesn’t mind the puppy using his toys, reward him.
4 – Affection: If the older dog seems jealous, or the puppy is too active, redirect the puppy in a positive way.
Gary Stevens, from Stevens Dog Training, emphasizes that dogs must be trained, but so must people. He emphasizes that owners must repeat commands that work best in training the puppy and the dog. Be consistent with commands or the dogs will become confused. “Sit means sit, to both dogs.”
Stevens believes in gradually introducing the dogs to each other, perhaps at a neutral place that feels less territorial. Let the older dog sniff the puppy first, as a matter of ranking. “If the older dog is aggressive, walk around the block with the younger puppy behind. This also helps with ranking.” He adds that “Spaying and neutering dogs can help calm them down, especially the male.”
Both experts agree on giving lots of encouragement. Equally reward your dogs’ good behaviors. With the right attention and training, you can make sure a new addition to the family is a positive experience for everyone.