Introducing two or more unfamiliar dogs is tricky no matter what their ages, but the task is even more complicated when one dog is a hyper puppy and the other is an aging pooch used to being the top dog. If you want to bring a new puppy into your home, do it gradually to halt the growling and fighting before they begin. If your older dog refuses to accept the new arrival after several weeks of unhurried introduction, see your vet to find out why.
Tip #1 - Introduce your old and new dogs on neutral territory to reduce the risk that your existing dog will see your new puppy as an intruder after his space. Enlist the help of a friend or family member, each of you take one dog, and then meet in an unfamiliar location near your home.
Tip #2 - Watch both dogs for signs of discomfort and aggressive posture. If the hair on your dog's back stands up, if he bears his teeth or if he stares for a prolonged period, separate the dogs and try the introduction again on another day. If this behavior continues beyond the introduction stage, consult your vet.
Tip #3 - Feed older and younger dogs separately. This keeps your puppy's nose out of your older dog's bowl and prevents jealous fights over food. Eating together should be one of the last things your dogs learn to do together.
Tip #4 - Remove objects from the environment your dogs can't or won't share or that might start fights. Make sure both your older pooch and your new puppy have their own food and water bowls, beds, toys, leashes and other supplies. Never give one of your older dog's toys to the new dog, even if your older dog doesn't play with it anymore.
Tip #5 - Offer your older dog at least as much love and attention as you did before the new puppy moved in. Having two or more dogs should not mean that each dog is loved less. Make sure all your animals feel loved and appreciated.
Tip #6 - Allow your older dog to warn your puppy with a snarl or growl. This behavior is designed to set limits for the puppy and is natural and healthy. Do not allow your older dog to bite or otherwise harm your new puppy.
Tip #7 - Make sure your older dog has a safe place away from the annoying puppy. Just like small children can tire and annoy adult humans, puppies can quickly get on the nerves of older dogs. Let your aging dog have a break in a location the new puppy is not allowed.
Tip #8 - Reward all your pets for behaving nicely with each other and in general. Offer treats, praise them and love them.
Warning: Never leave an older dog alone with a new puppy until you are absolutely certain they can and will get along with each other. Leaving them unsupervised before this stage of their relationship may put one or both of the dogs at risk.
By Sandra Ketcham
Ohio State University: College of Veterinary Medicine
Humane Society of the United States: Introducing a Dog to Other Pets
The Senior Dogs Project: The Road Ahead....When Is It Right to Get Another Dog?
About the Author
Sandra Ketcham has nearly two decades of experience writing and editing for major websites and magazines. Her work appears in numerous web and print publications, including "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "The Tampa Bay Times," Visit Florida, "USA Today," AOL's Gadling and "Kraze Magazine."