You never know until you bring home a new puppy how your adult dog will react. Some adult dogs take to a new puppy right away, and others show their territorial side by barking and growling. If barks and growls are all that are exchanged, you might think that everything will be OK. However, just because your adult dog doesn't actually go so far as to bite the little guy doesn't automatically mean everything's kosher.
Barking and growling are the warning signals your dog will give to show the newcomer who is boss and what the limits are. A growl or a snarl without a nip is normal, but if your adult dog shows other signals like baring his teeth, an intense, displeased stare or his hackles are raised, that likely means more -- such as a nip or a serious bite -- is to come.
How to Respond
Usually a dog of any age knows enough to back off and move away if another dog gives him the verbal and posturing warnings. Don't risk allowing your puppy to be harmed if your adult dog shows aggressive signs that precede an attack. Distract the older dog to redirect his attention and have another person remove the puppy from the situation.
Making Proper Introductions
Introduce a new puppy to your adult dog in neutral territory, like outside in the garden or even at a park away from the house. You could even let them meet for the first time on opposite sides of a chain-link fence. If they are meeting face to face, your dog should be leashed initially while the puppy approaches him for the first time. The older dog may growl, especially if the pup is too rambunctious, but if he shows no other aggressive signs, you can let him off the leash. Continue to supervise their interactions until you are confident that they're getting along and no one is in danger of being bit. Even if you don't kennel your adult dog at night, it's wise to kennel the pup until he's been potty trained not only to reduce the chances of an accident, but to prevent any late-night fighting that could erupt if the puppy makes a nuisance of himself.
Do A Test Run
You'll do your adult dog, the puppy and yourself all a favor if you take the time to introduce the two pooches before adopting the youngster. In general, dogs can usually learn to get along and, even if they never become BFFs, they typically find their places in the family. There are times, though, when a personality clash is severe enough that the two will never get along. In those cases the constant fighting and continual danger of harming one another can make for a long 10 years, or however long they both live with you. Do a test run to see how compatible they are and get an idea of how easy it might be to bring the puppy into your home.
By Elle Di Jensen
Tao of Puppies: How to Raise a Good Dog Without Really Trying; Krista Cantrell
Your German Shepherd Puppy Month by Month; Debra Eldredge, and Liz Palika
Puppy Training: The Guide Dog's Way; Julia Barnes
The Humane Society of the United States: Introducing Your Dog to Other Pets
Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine: Introducing a New Dog to Your Current Dog
Web MD: Adding Another Dog to Your Home
About the Author
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.