How to introduce a puppy to an older dog

Updated 20 June 2024
Read time: 9 mins
article author
Written by Corinne Homer
article author
Reviewed by Elle Padgham

If you’re feeling like the love and joy you have for your current dog is big enough for two, you may be looking to bring a new puppy into the mix! But amongst all the excitement around a new member of the family, how do you make sure things will run smoothly - especially when introducing them to your other dog?

Read on to discover what you should consider when bringing another puppy into a home with an older dog, and what you can do to make the introduction safe, positive and void of any hiccups. 

Preparing your puppy for an older dog

If you’re in the final few stages of securing your new pup, you’re most likely going to be back and forth from breeders, or the shelter, to get acquainted with your pup - and vice versa! This can be used to your advantage when it comes to prepping them for when they eventually meet their older brother or sister.
When preparing your puppy to meet your older dog, you should consider:

  • Bringing one of your dog’s favourite toys or blankets to introduce the pup to the new scent.

  • Keeping something with your dog’s scent on it with the puppy at the breeders/shelter.

  • Asking for prior meet-ups with your dog on neutral ground before they officially come home.

    Preparing your older dog for a puppy

    As a dog parent, you can take certain measures to ensure your dog is not only prepped for the new arrival, but so their first introduction goes super well - prioritising the health and safety of both pups involved. These include;

  • Seeking advice from a trainer on how to approach the first meeting and then for harmonious coexistence when your pup comes home for good.

  • Make sure your dog is fully up to date with worming, fleas and vaccinations to avoid your new puppy catching anything nasty as they’re very susceptible to infections at such a young age.

  • Introducing the puppy’s scent by letting your dog sniff you when you come home from a puppy visit, or giving them a blanket or toy you took with you.

  • Begin making gradual changes to your dog’s routine like sleeping in a different room, introducing new sounds, moving their feeding area and re-enforcing the ‘leave’ command in preparation for when there are two bowls of food on the go.

  • What should you consider before bringing a puppy home for good?

    Your current dog will be very accustomed to their life as a lone wolf, knowing their home as their territory and your family as their pack which they’ll want to protect (even if it is from who delivers your post and parcels).

    As pooch lovers first and foremost, we know how exciting the idea of a new puppy is. But you shouldn’t let this squash the needs of your current dog as at this point, they should be your number one priority!

    A few things to consider before making that final decision include;

  • Your dog’s previous interactions with puppies and dogs. If you’ve witnessed any kind of negative reaction or behaviour from your dog towards other dogs whilst out and about, it begs the question of how they will be when one enters their territory!

  • Your dog’s temperament. Whether it's down to their breed, sex, size or background, every dog has a different personality and temperament. If your dog is prone to anxiety or even displaying signs of jealousy or aggression in the home, this is something to consider before bringing in a new pup.

  • Your current dog’s health. If your older dog has any health issues, you will have to consider balancing the extra costs a second dog will bring and the implications it may have on your current dog’s health and well-being.

  • In the case that you have any doubts about introducing a new puppy to your older dog, or you think there’s any risk of things going pear-shaped, it might be a good idea to reevaluate your decision or get some additional advice from your vet or trainer. 

    However, on the brighter side, getting a pal for your older dog could be exactly what they need, and can even offer a huge improvement to their life. If all’s looking good and boxes are being ticked, let the preparations begin!

    Approaching the first meeting: Step by Step

    Before your puppy officially comes home with you and your older dog, it’s a good idea to test the waters a little first. Reputable breeders and shelters should offer or agree to organise a prior meeting between your puppy and older dog, just to make sure your pup will be completely happy in their new home, and your current dog is 100% happy with their new housemate.

    There are a few actions you can take when arranging that first meeting to ensure you’re approaching it with the best intentions, keeping both pups happy and hopefully resulting in a happily ever after!

    1: Choose a neutral area. It’s best if the first meeting is in a spacious, neutral space, away from somewhere your dog would think of as their territory.

    2: Keep leads on. Just so you’re prepared for any scenario, it’s best if leads are kept on whilst the first meeting takes place.

    3: Keep your distance, gradually getting closer. Begin with both puppy and dog on leads at a good distance away from each other. Provide treats and positive reinforcement when they calmly spot each other from afar.

    4: Let the sniffing commence. When they have first contact, be sure to allow all the sniffing. This is how they’ll first get to know each other - they’re essentially shaking hands!

    5: Try parallel walking around the area. If that first initial meeting has gone well, try going for a walk around the area side by side as they get accustomed to each other’s presence.

    6: Monitor their behaviour closely. Be on the lookout for the body language of your puppy and your dog, looking for any signs of anxiety, stress, fear or aggression. This may show through tucked tails, pinned-back ears, growls and baring teeth.

    7: Take regular breaks. This is a big day not only for your pup but for your older dog too. Be sure to take time to step away from all the excitement, focusing your dog’s attention on you, and giving them lots of love to create a positive experience.

    8. If all is well, try bringing them home. If this is the very first meeting, you might want to plan a couple more playdates. But if this is one of a few successful meetings, you might want to try bringing both the pups home to see how your older dog reacts in their territory. Be sure to take the same precautions - watching body language, using sporadic distance and rewarding good behaviour.

    9: Positive reinforcement and reward good behaviour. If your older dog is doing a stellar job and accepting your puppy as a new friend, make a big fuss of them! Giving them treats and love ensures they recognise this is a fun, positive experience.

    Are there benefits of having a second dog?

    As well as embarking on the wonderful journey of raising another dog, bringing a new puppy into your life can come with many advantages that even benefit your older dog!

    These include:

  • Companionship. Life can get lonely as an older dog, especially as they tiptoe into their senior years and can’t keep up with the other dogs at the park. Introducing a new puppy can bring a new friend for your older dog, making those solitary times way more fun!

  • Playtime and enrichment. Dogs thrive on play, even when they’re older. Bringing a bundle of energy into the home can give your older dog a new lease of life and a new form of endless entertainment.

  • Ease separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is common amongst both puppies and dogs. This is when dogs feel stress and anxiety due to being on their own. Getting your dog a friend can help ease the effects of this as they bask in their new company.

  • Your new puppy has a great teacher. When getting a puppy with an older dog, the benefits will go both ways! With a more experienced dog to act as a role model, training your puppy will be that little bit easier.

  • How to help your puppy in their first weeks at home

    After the first few meetings have gone swimmingly, it’s time to crack on with your new normal - as a dog parent of two! But this also means caring for your dog, and running after your puppy as they explore the world. There are a few things you can do to ensure you’re continuing the socialisation of your dog and new puppy, and ensure they’re keeping safe and happy. 

  • Pick humans. Your older dog would have naturally picked their ‘preferred’ person to be with, so ensure the other person becomes the same for your puppy. This will help avoid jealousy and make your pup feel safe and happy. 

  • Taking them on walks together. Parallel walking will help continue the socialisation between your pup and older dog on neutral ground, helping them build on their relationship.

  • Keep your puppy happy and distracted. You’ll want to make sure you’re creating the most positive, safe and happy environment for your pup, so whilst you’re trying to create a harmonious relationship, fill their lives with play, enrichment and plenty of distraction with toys and treats. 

  • Raw veggies make great tasty treats for younger puppies, but to help keep things calm and zen, try our range of Probiotic Meaty Treats, suitable for puppies 12 weeks and up! These meaty treats come in a variety of flavours and functions, are great for enrichment, and ideal for training. They’re perfect for your older dog too!



    How long will it take for my dog to accept a new puppy?

    This will vary from dog to dog, what actions you took to introduce your older dog to the new puppy and how well your older dog has received them. They don’t have to be best friends, but they must be able to coexist safely and happily together. Generally speaking, it should be a little over a month before everything balances out and your older dog slots back into their new routine with their little brother or sister.

    What if the first meeting between my dog and puppy doesn’t go well?

    If your puppy and older dog are showing signs of not getting along during their first meeting, be sure to give them some space and time away from each other. Once they’ve calmed down, perhaps gradually get closer and try again. If things don’t seem to be improving, perhaps seek advice from a dog trainer to work with your dog’s behaviour towards other dogs to see if it’s a reaction that can be solved by further training and socialisation.

    How do I know if my older dog likes my new puppy?

    You can monitor both your puppy and dog’s behaviour by watching their body language. Positive body language includes sniffing, wagging tails, licking, playful movements like the downward dog position, rolling onto their back and generally open movements. 

    Negative body language may include a tucked tail, pinned back ears, shaking, lunging, baring teeth, growling and snapping. If this occurs, be sure to give them lots of space or remove them from the situation entirely.

    What age should my dog be before getting a puppy?

    The younger your current dog is, the more accepting they are likely to be of a new puppy. More senior dogs, who will be sleeping more and moving less, might get easily annoyed by the energy of younger dogs. 

    Overall, it all depends on your older dog’s personality - breeds that remain energetic even in their more senior years, like Terriers, may appreciate the lively company!

    Should I let my puppy and older dog sleep together?

    In your puppy’s first few weeks at home with your older dog, it’s advised to make use of separate spaces. Not only will this give your older dog some time alone, but also help gradually ease them into sharing their territory. Your older dog will be content with their sleeping space, and see it as a place of sanctuary, and probably won’t welcome lively intruders at first.

    As time goes by, your puppy and older dog will feel more settled together, and you may even find them sleeping together on their own accord!

    Introducing your puppy to your older dog is a big step! And if all goes well, it marks the beginning of your new life as a dog parent of two. With both an adult dog and puppy running around the house now, we’re here to ensure both pooches are well-fed from our dog and puppy ranges - which have chosen ingredients to aid their growth, health and development. 


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