You went and did it! You got another dog, this time, a puppy. This begs the question, “how do I introduce the dogs so that they start off on the right paw?”. It is likely that your current dog is going to feel less attended to off the bat. How do you establish peaceful order in such a scenario?
There are many things to consider. One such thing is the food, bed, crate and toy situation. It is important to place all of these things (that the older dog may guard) in one place, even if the older dog has never shown possessive aggressive behavior in the past. At the same time, make sure the pup has an area specifically for his/her stuff. That will reduce the possibility of one dog taking issue with the other dog infringing on his/her stuff and reduce the likelihood of a scuffle. You will want to reduce overall clutter in the dogs’ living areas – congestion often causes stress among dogs, which leads to bad things happening.
Then there is the initial meeting. You will want to have a friend or family member handle one dog as you handle the other. As you would imagine, meeting on neutral ground is important, like at a park, or even a large parking lot. Your back yard is not an option – it is not neutral ground. It’s important to walk the dogs parallel to each other prior to meeting, say 50 feet apart. Using a football field as an example, start one dog at the intersection of the goal line and the out of bounds line, and walk him/her along the goal line toward the other out of bounds line, slowly. Start the other dog at the intersection of the 20 yard line and the out of bounds line, and walk him/her along the 20 yard line toward the other out of bounds line, slowly. Proceed to SLOWLY walk the dogs closer to each other, such that by the time you are at the other out of bounds line, they will have met. The dogs should not be introduced face to face, rather they should curl into each other so as not to have an aggressive posture. Keep the leashes slack when the introduction is finally made so they don’t feel like they are being restrained.
It will be normal for the dogs to circle around each other, sniff, play bow or jump in the air (not on the other dog), pee, or just ignore altogether. Most importantly, do not force the situation – they need to feel each other out and as long as there is no growling, things are good. I recommend bringing a spray bottle to the get together. If there is any growling or one or both dogs try to attack, spray one or both with water to break it up. Assuming things go well and the dogs hit it off, consider it a success if 5 minutes go by and there is no growling, barking, biting or jumping on each other. The next step would be to go for a 20-minute walk together, side-by-side and with each dog sharing the lead from time to time.
It’s now time to bring the dogs back to the house. It really doesn’t matter who enters the home first. What does matter, is that you need to very closely supervise the dogs for the next couple of weeks until they get used to each other and their habits. Keep the water bottle handy. When it is mealtime, feed the older dog first, while keeping the pup in a different room. I recommend that you give food and water for maximum 20 minutes at a time, then pick both up until next meal, or put water down again after play or a walk. You should do positive method training with high value treats, one dog at a time, for at least 15 minutes a day for several weeks, after which point you can train together. Keep an eye out for any tenseness over toys or snacks as well as any growling, teeth showing, hackles (raised back hair), stiff bodies, or stares. Get them their separate beds, and share cuddle time equally – just like you would your kids.
In no time, your dogs will bond if you follow the above instructions.