Introducing a New Puppy Into a Pack
When puppies are adopted, they may be entering into a home where they are “an only child”, being the only dog in the home. I’ve had many clients where they adopt a puppy while already having a dog in the home, sometimes because they want the dog to have a new playmate. Puppies can be very easy to train, as they are a clean slate and owners have the advantage to teach good behaviors while also preventing bad ones from forming. Puppies might make things easier when introducing and acclimating to another dog, as many dogs will recognize that the puppy is younger, smaller (most of the time…at least early on!), and therefore, ranking below them in the pack hierarchy. It still might take a while for a dog that is already settled and established in their home and pack, to accept a newcomer, even with a puppy!
A new dog or puppy coming into the home and family is a major life change, and some dogs can handle it, and some might have complaints about it. Possible issues like jealousy and resource guarding can occur, and that can include being possessive or aggressive over things like food, toys, and even over the owners! It’s important to help reinforce a healthy relationship between all dogs in the family, especially if puppies are involved. Not only do we not want to put any of the dogs in harm’s way because of one’s poor behavior, but we also don’t want that poor behavior to seem acceptable to any of the other dogs or puppies in the pack!
I signed on a couple in the neighborhood who had two dogs: Lily who had been in the home the longest and was five years old, and now Poppy, who is a young puppy and was recently adopted. Lily was used to being the center of attention, and in her previous life, she had some aggression issues with other dogs. With Poppy coming into the picture, Lily was showing some signs of insecurity and aggression — growling at Poppy when she came near, demanding attention when Poppy received affection from the owners, and her anxiety was building more due to this shift in the home and pack hierarchy. There was concern on whether Lily might actually hurt Poppy, plus their owners did not want Poppy to learn some of Lily’s bad behaviors and have them get worse as she got older and bigger. In fact, at our initial in-home consultation, the owners reported that Poppy started growling a lot more, and they were certain this was something she picked up from her older sister.
For all dogs getting to know each other, the owner must show them that the leader of the pack is ALWAYS the owner first. The dogs should be allowed to socialize and interact, but there must be supervision and also certain situations that you could monitor more, or avoid altogether to avoid failure (i.e.: feeding the dogs separately can prevent any food aggression issues). When the dogs have to be left alone, it is important that they are separated in the beginning, until things are 100% between the dogs. Making sure both dogs understand obedience, manners, and basic boundaries will help eliminate and avoid bad behaviors in the first place, while also keeping a consistent structure that both dogs can thrive in and feel more encouraged and confident. Training is a great bonding tool, so maybe while one of your dogs might not need behavior training as much as the other, both can benefit from it, and also cement a positive relationship between the two.
In Lilly and Poppy’s case, we are working on Poppy understanding her basics while Lilly sharpens up her commands and manners. Through this we can combat any anxiety, and this also will allow their parents to have total control and leadership. Lilly and Poppy will still have time to interact with each other, but it will be monitored and any inappropriate behavior will be addressed, while good behavior leads to rewards and success for the two sisters! We look forward to working more with these girls and testing them out with more distractions and challenges later on, once they show more progress in their basics.
If you’re unsure how to introduce your new dog into your pack, we can help you and make the transition as smooth as possible! Call us at 800-649-7297 and we’ll set up a plan that will address you and your family’s needs with our in-home training programs!