For the first official week of Interactive Wednesdays, I am responding to a question posted regarding introducing a puppy to an established pair of adult dogs. See below:
We already have two dogs (as you know, you have painted them XD ) – how do we introduce a third to them? I keep reading it should be on neutral ground, but how can you do this when the newbie is a puppy that has no vaccinations?!
Any ideas or advice? The puppy has a crate and a 5x3ft pen in the living room, if that would change your advice 🙂
Thank you if you have any thoughts!
Great question! First, I think it is important you familiarize yourself with my opinions on socializing a puppy before it is fully vaccinated. You can read back to that post here.
I am working under the assumption that this will be an 8 week old puppy, but the methods still apply if they are older than that.
First, do not be surprised if your dogs are not initially thrilled with the idea of a puppy coming into the home. My very gentle Labrador turned his nose up at me when I brought home my 8 week old German Shepherd puppy, and it took him a few weeks to become convinced that she was staying and that, perhaps, he should accept her. Some dogs are much quicker to accept a new member to the family, but it most likely will take some work on your part to acclimate them.
A tired puppy is a good puppy, so you should make sure that you keep the new pup nice and exercised before interactions with your adult dogs. An 8 week old will not be leash trained, but if you have an enclosed yard you can create a fun situation for your puppy – they can wander around, follow treats, and you can begin basic obedience training such as sit and down. Mental engagement can be more tiring than physical exercise.
I would recommend keeping toys and bones put away when all 3 dogs are interacting during the first few weeks to prevent any sort of resource guarding. Do not feed them all in the same area – put the puppy in the exercise pen during feeding times.
During the first meeting, I do agree that a neutral location is important, particularly if your dogs have ever shown any signs of territorial aggression. This can be a small park, baseball field, or a backyard that your own dogs have not frequented often. If the puppy is 8 weeks old, carrying them while on a walk can be helpful so that your dogs can sniff and check out the puppy without being jumped on or pestered. Once the three dogs seem bored of each other, you can walk back to your house and introduce in the front yard, and then the backyard. I typically recommend having the new dog in the yard first, and then bringing in the resident dogs, to avoid triggering them at a threshold (a new dog coming into the yard that they feel belongs to them).
Give your dogs plenty of time away from the puppy by utilizing the play pen, and allow them to correct the new puppy to an appropriate extent. A sound, well balanced adult dog will not typically injure a puppy, but you may hear plenty of growling and see some snapping. That is completely normal behavior for an adult dog and can teach the new pup about the ways of the world! Do not correct your adult dogs for telling the puppy to knock it off, and intervene if the puppy is not getting the hint so your dogs do not need to escalate.
I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any questions or if I did not cover anything.
Do you have a question regarding behavior, training, or anything else that you’d like to ask about dogs? Post your comments below and I will answer one of them next week!