If you just got a new puppy a congratulations is in order. Now that you have your puppy at home, you will have to have all sorts of protocols in place so that your puppy can thrive and you can get some sleep while your home remains undisturbed.
Puppy-hood can be a real challenge for most folks and this includes resident adult dogs. Most adult dogs might be willing to tolerate a puppy for a certain period of time, but they can get very impatient and even anxious when the puppy is around. Here is an analogy: Grandparents taking care of two-year-old twins. I hear you gasping! While the grandparent might understand that the babies will be returned to their now more rested parents, your dog does not necessarily understand what this new arrangement is all about.
My recommendations to bringing any dog of any age, but especially so with young puppies or a household where there is already a resident dog or dogs, is to keep the puppy or (new adult dog) separate from your resident adult dog. In addition, you want to ensure that your resident dog’s routine is minimally disruptive as possible – not always easy when your attention and energy is on the puppy and its needs. One “mistake” puppy parents make is getting the puppy way to0 stimulate and not giving him or her ample time to rest. Puppies need LOTS of sleep and rest throughout the day – especially when it comes to solidifying new learning; and they are learning all the time!
When you have placed your puppy to take a nap in his containment area (a safe area where your puppy is learning to be alone and also is entrained by sterile chew toys and food dispensing toys) are great opportunities for folks to focus on their adult dog and his/her needs. Also, consider keeping your puppy and your adult dog separated for most of the day.
When it comes to the time to have your dogs meet, I instruct my clients to introduce the new puppy to their adult dog behind an x-pen or a crate should the puppy be crate trained. Treating both dogs with high value food will ensure that your adult dog learns that the presence of the puppy brings all sorts of goodies to him- creating a positive association for both of them.
Important to know that not all puppies are equipped to meeting adult dogs full-on especially when there is any possibility of the adult dog responding inappropriately towards your puppy. Puppies are so vulnerable at this stage of development that even ONE negative experience can leave lasting consequences later on. Often, fear turns into aggression.
After a few successful and positive interactions of the puppy and the adult dog, you should be able to see that both parties are looking forward to more interactions. All interactions must take place under supervision.
What you are looking for in both dogs in order to determine if they are ready to interact away from the barrier is the following: Both dogs move towards each other, versus creating more distance. For example, the puppy running away from the dog and hiding under a chair. Both parties must be relaxed with an open mouths, and fully relaxed body language – no tension in the muscles or face, “happy” faces (you’ll know what a happy face looks like when you see one) and perhaps some whining and even and invitation to play in the form of a play bow.
If in doubt, have a second person with the adult dog on a leash so that he or she can create the distance to keep the puppy safe. The size of both the puppy and the adult dog must be a consideration. A puppy can be actually larger than an adult dog. Think Mastiff or any other giant breed and a Chihuahua. A rowdy puppy can injure a smaller dog or even a feeble adult dog.
I urge parents to also feed their dogs separately until the new dog has been fully incorporated into the household in the form or shared activities such as walks, (in a safe area not the dog park or any other place where there is the possibility of parvo or any other highly infectious disease that your puppy might contract), play between the dogs and even quiet resting times.
When pet parents take things slow and consider everyone’s needs, the hard work of having a new puppy at home is more doable and the chances of a good relationship between the dogs much higher. If you are unsure of how to proceed or there are already signs of trouble, please know that a timely intervention by a professional who is using reward base methods and has experience with this sort of situation is your best bet to a harmonious household down the road.