How to Introduce a Puppy to an Older Dog

Dogs are known as a man's best friend, providing companionship and even tangible protection against intruders into their household.

More mature pets can be stubborn though, often having a set routine in their territory.

But while you reportedly cannot teach old dogs new tricks, teaching them to welcome a new canine newcomer into your family might be easier than first thought.

Read on if you are planning on bringing a new arrival home and are wondering how to introduce a puppy to an older dog.

How to Introduce a New Puppy to Your Dog

Before you plan on bringing a puppy home, it is important to know how to introduce the new puppy to older dog(s) already living there.

Although adult dogs are always more than capable of welcoming a new canine friend, it is important to try to set yourself up for success.

Dr. Mary Burch, a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and American Kennel Club (AKC) Family Dog Director, believes "the best introduction will be one that is calm and systematic."

She told Newsweek: "The one thing you don't want to do when you introduce your new puppy to your older dog is to put the puppy and dog together and let them work things out on their own."

"Introduce your puppy and dog in a controlled situation...you could start with an outdoor introduction (in a neutral area) with both the puppy and dog on leashes and then move into the house."

Poodle puppy playing with senior mastaff
Poodle puppy playing with senior mastiff. Adopting a new puppy is an exciting time for pet parents. redstallion/Getty Images

How to Get Dogs to Get Along

A good idea is to kick start proceedings by bringing both dogs on a long walk, each proceeding side by side, with a different handler for each of the animals.

Keep the leashes loose and give the dogs room to move, which will in effect reduce any potential to cause tension.

Once the dogs show a happy interest in meeting, allow the pair to properly approach in an appropriately open space while keeping the leashes loose.

The dogs will sniff each other's rear ends, which is widely-recognized as proper canine greeting etiquette.

Dogs desiring to play together is an excellent sign of assimilation, so keep an eye out for the canine language signalling good intentions.

TheSprucePets.com suggests there are at least two ways to perceive positive signs during this full-on meet and greet stage of the doggy introduction.

One well-known invitation for dogs is the "play bow," in which the tail end goes up and the head goes down.

And observing a dog yawning is thought to signal, "I am no threat" and can be a very positive sign from either dog.

However, observers are cautioned:" Whines, barks, and growls are used in both play and threats, so pay attention to these."

An elderly black labrador bitch PUPPY
If you have an older dog at home, you might be wondering how to introduce them to your new puppy. ChrisAt/Getty Images

Bringing a New Puppy Home to Another Dog

Allowing the two dogs to eventually meet in the elder dog's home is the biggest step of the process, but the AKC's Dr. Burch thinks any drama can be minimized using the following steps.

Provide beds and toys in the house for both the older dog and puppy and give both attention when the puppy comes home.

If the puppy is active and bothers the older dog (e.g., jumping on his head, biting his ears) give the older dog a place to go to for a respite.

Take some short walks with both dogs on a leash. There should be two people, one walking each dog.

Keep the puppy and older dog some distance apart. Eventually, the dogs can be off-leash together in a safe, fenced area.

In addition to joint activities, provide the younger dog with exercise to wear him out. The puppy will sleep in the house and won't be a pest to the older dog.

Each day, do some short, simple training sessions with both dogs—e.g., sit, down, etc.

Give the older dog a treat for a sit-stay, and give the puppy a treat as you lure him into a sit. This will come to be a positive experience that both dogs will find reinforcing and fun.

Cute puppy and adult dog friendship
You can make the meeting between a new and old dog a success with some preparation. Wavetop/Getty Images