3 Essential Tips For Introducing the New Dog to your Older K9 Buddy

Mar 16 / Penny DiLoreto, CPDT-KA
Adding a new pet to your family is always an exciting time; it can also be stressful for your other pets. This article includes steps for introducing the latest addition to your existing pets.It might take a couple of days for your existing pet to show interest in your new puppy or new older dogs.

Don't try to rush things. Over time your dog will learn to trust the new family member and will become more interested in him. Some older dogs will begin parenting the new family member and teach him the "House Rules."One way to help ensure that your existing dog doesn't get the feeling that the new canine family member is replacing him is to SHOW him that he's not being replaced. You can do this by:

• Feeding him first.  At feeding time, place his bowl on the floor and allow him to take a few bites BEFORE you allow the new dog/puppy to eat.

• Greet him first. When you return home after being gone for a while, spend a few one-on-one moments with the older dog BEFORE you greet the new dog/puppy.

When going outside, allow the older dog to step through the doorway first. 

All of the above activities will help your older dog feel that he is still number one in your heart and demonstrate to the new dog that his job is not to replace the older dog. If your older dog does not feel threatened by the new dog, he will be more inclined to accept the new addition to the family.

Set Up the Meet and Greet. 
Prepare before you introduce the two dogs. A few preparations will help make the meeting go more smoothly. I suggest the following:

Go outside. Take the two dogs out to a fenced-in area for their first meeting. Being outdoors will give them more room to romp around if they decide on a chase game and help eliminate the feeling of being cornered if the new dog becomes frightened.

• Have yummy treats available. Like in humans, food increases dopamine levels (the feel-good hormone) in the brain of dogs. All mammals, including dogs, have a "pleasure center" in their brains stimulated by dopamine, the chemical that regulates feelings of happiness. For example, when a dog is playing fetch, dopamine is released in the pleasure center, causing the dog to feel happy.

Do not have the dogs on leash.  Meeting another animal for the first time can cause a dog to become stressed. Under these conditions, a leashed dog can develop a feeling of being trapped and may become fearful and show aggressive looking behaviors.

During their first meeting, look for the following signs of fear/aggressive-looking behavior in either or both of the dogs:
• Growling.
• Hair on the back is standing up.
• Ears held forward, straight back, or flat against the head.
• Snarling - curled upper lip with teeth exposed.
• Crouching with tail between the legs etc.

DO NOT PANIC. If you witness any of the above behaviors,DO NOT step in or snatch the puppy away and tell your older dog, "Bad Dog." This behavior, on your part, will only signal to the older dog that the new dog is going to be trouble and will signal to the new dog that the older dog is a bully.

Instead, STAY CALM, offer yummy treats to both dogs (bits of lean cooked chicken work great), and speak to the dogs using a calm voice. Continue with this process until the dogs begin to interact appropriately. Things are going well when both dogs are;
• Sniffing each other.
• Play bowing (front legs in the "down" position with    back legs and bottom-up).
• Tail wagging.
•Licking the face of the other dog.
• Playful barking or panting.
• Playful jumping on the other dog.

I wish you congratulations on getting your new K9 Buddy. I offer both Star Puppy and Canine Good Citizen courses if you are interested in additional help with getting your new addition off on the right paw.
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