Introducing a new dog to your family Image- Pexels
How to introduce your home and family to a new young dog and creating a safe environment to meet the older family pet
Bringing a new dog home, especially when they are young, is a very joyful event yet this can also become very stressful or even turn into a total disaster. There is nothing more unnerving than not knowing how your other dog will react when you introduce them to each other, or whether your kids will get along with them.
There are a few things to consider before expanding the size of our family. I will go through each of them in this article, for the sake of your new dog, your “mental health” and the other family members, both two and four legged.
If you live alone, all you have to worry about is whether your house is “dog proofed” and if you are ready for this new commitment. This is not something to underestimate and we discussed it in this in a previous article (LIVING IN A FLAT)
It’s you and your partner
This is the best scenario, as long as your partner loves dogs too of course, and it’s not a total surprise. When I say total surprise, I mean something that your partner would not expect at all. Showing up one day at home with a cardboard box with a cute little puppy in it sounds great but at the same time, it could lead to big issues if this is something that your partner is not emotionally available for or doesn’t have the time for.
This situation has two outcomes
-Ideal scenario: your kids are responsible and at that age when they can take care of a dog. They are happy to look after them, feed them and walk them around the block (before they do this on their own, make sure you taught them well; avoid the use of collars, harnesses are best and this is one of my favourite for its simplicity – even kids can put it on the dog with ease.
Essentially, all you have to “worry about” is paying food and bills – but you are used to that already, right? Horror movie scenario: your kids were not ready for this and the dog is paying for it, by being constantly harassed and mistreated. There might be a million reasons why this is happening and we need a different article to go in to detail about this, as it is not something to underestimate and needs to be addressed immediately, before your kids take it one step too far or the dog reacts.
Many of us are in the ideal scenario situation, which is great, but don’t forget that sometimes kids start losing interest and end up not looking after the dog like they use to in beginning.
It’s you and your dog
This is a tricky situation. Let’s have a look at these 3 possible scenarios:
– Recipe for disaster: you are bringing home an un-castrated teenage dog but you already have a very protective un-castrated adult dog and they never met outside of your home before. You will be lucky if you make it past the gate without causing a massive brawl. Avoid this situation at all costs.
– The fragile situation: same scenario as above but the dogs have already met outside of the home in a neutral place and they were fine, on and off the leash. This is great of course but the adult dog might completely change behaviour once the young dog enters your place.
Make sure the dogs have met more than once and take it one-step at a time. If you have a garden, the first time you bring the young dog home, make sure they meet there.
– Friendly home dog: ideally, this is what we want, an adult dog living in the house who is not over protective and fine with having other dogs around, even of the same sex. Un-castrated dogs are more territorial so this may be harder to achieve. This can also be hard to achieve if no one has ever visited you with their furry companion, as the dog is not used to having other dogs around. If the “friendly home scenario” is where you fit in, you are either lucky or you did a great job making sure that your dog acquired great socialisation skills. With that said, problems may arise once the young dog gets close to your dog’s food bowl or favourite sleeping mat. We will discuss this in a moment.
This is just like the previous scenario but a tad trickier. Why’s that? Well, the dog may not only be protective of you, but also other house members. Make sure you follow the same advice as for the scenario above.
New Dog with Family – Image Unsplash
The “fragile” or “friendly” scenarios are the ones that I believe most of you will find yourselves in; let’s talk a bit more about it.
How to introduce them to each other
This is the most important part so follow these steps:
– Always pick a neutral place, certainly not your home,and possibly, somewhere neither dogs have been before.- When they first meet, make sure they are not facing each other whilst on their leads, like it is some sort of stand-off (If you are in the market for a great lead or leash, check this one out, as reviewed by “Good Housekeeping” this was their number one, Heavy Duty Dog Leash by Goma).-
Keep both of them on the lead (no muzzle and use harnesses) and go for a walk, keeping them a bit far apart.
Once they are at ease, make them walk closer so they can get increasingly used to each other. If there is someone else to help you with this it would be better.- Once they are used to each other and seem to get along, let them off of their leads in a confined place outside (not a tiny garden nor a giant park, something in the middle) so they can play and sniff around. – Look at their body language (what’s their tail doing? Wagging or tensing?) and keep an eye on them.- Don’t stand in their way and at the beginning don’t let the new dog come close to you, to avoid your dog turning into protective mode.
These are the most critical days and when mistakes are usually made, and then things can get ugly. No matter how much you trust your dog, do not leave them alone with the puppy for the whole day at the beginning.
Young and Older Dog – Image by Pexels
Make sure they get to socialise and get to know each other but without the younger one driving the older one crazy. If there is a big age gap make sure that the older dog gets some time off as the puppy will have more energy and be very eager to play.
How to feed them.
Food can turn a laid-back dog into a fighter so particular attention must be made. Most older dogs will let a puppy eat from their bowl, usually looking up at you asking why you have introduced this interloper. This is wrong and you should teach your new dog not to do this, as it will likely lead to bigger problems once the younger dog grows.
If the older dog grew up alone in the house, without having a “competitor” they will likely take their time to eat. If you then bring a younger dog into the environment, the new dog will quickly learn that they can steal food from the older one, they will at some point become protective of your older dog’s food, likely ending up attacking them.
I Recommend a ceramic bowl for a young dog as it moves less, my favourite is this one, really pretty by Wrendale Designs (whilst not the cheapest it is gorgeous in the flesh offering stability.)
Don’t always let them copy each other
The younger dog will quickly learn the house rules by imitating the older one, even if you don’t pay much attention to it. Unfortunately, this also applies to bad habits i.e. if your older dog likes to jump on chairs to give a good lick to the crumbles that you left on the table, your new dog will learn that quickly. To avoid this, make sure your dog has good manners and at least basic training before even considering bringing home a new one.
Don’t let your worries take over, don’t let your imagination run wild thinking what might happen when you are going to introduce your new young dog to your home, family and current dog. It’s a fantastic sight to see kids screaming for joy when their parents bring home a new four legged family member, or when your current dog finally has some company whilst you are at work.
Do not underestimate jealousy though and the damage that it can cause. This may affect your current dog, your new dog, or even another family member.
Home Alone Dog – Image by Pixabay
Everyone in the household must be ready to welcome the young dog into the home. If unsure then take a little more time. You will reap the rewards
I look forward to hearing from you and welcome your comments below.
Dolly & I wish you a fantastic day.
Thank you for reading this far – Cordelia –
NB. Images by Pixabay, Unsplash and Pexels, plus Dolly
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