The most important point to remember with all introductions is to allow the puppy to avoid situations that scare him and to give him the time and patience to adapt. Most puppies will show mild apprehension when meeting unfamiliar people or dogs but should then relax provided that person or dog is friendly.
If you have another dog then ensure that the dog is under strict supervision and control during initial interactions. Even a dog who has previously got on very well with other dogs may be triggered into a chase response if the puppy runs away or may not appreciate an over-excited puppy jumping all over him. An accidental chase must be avoided at all costs because this could have long term effects on the puppy’s confidence with meeting unfamiliar dogs. One suggestion is to take your dog out for a good long walk and then keep him on his lead when he comes back into the house, ensuring the puppy is already in the house when he returns from his walk. This will help reduce any protectiveness/guarding toward his territory. You then have physical control of him without him getting excited about going for a walk. If your new puppy is confident and happy to approach and play with your older dog then ensure that this does not result in the puppy becoming a pest! Both dogs may need to have some time alone to relax to avoid one becoming irritable. On the other hand if your adult dog has good social skills then he is potentially the best teacher your puppy can have. Do not intervene in every minor scuffle – if the older dog tells the puppy off and the puppy responds appropriately by backing off this is very important for the puppy’s learning. If the puppy does not listen or respond appropriately then you may need to intervene.
Introducing Children to a New Puppy
Children also need to be introduced carefully depending on their age, experience of interacting with animals and the previous experience of the puppy. A puppy who has come from a family breeding environment and has met children from a young age will usually adapt well. If the puppy has come from a quieter, child-free environment you may need to take things more gradually. In this case using a play pen or crate can be an excellent way of providing your puppy with a quiet safe area where he can retreat to if he becomes overwhelmed and ensure children know to leave him to rest while he is in this area. It may also be a good idea to teach children what stress signals look like so that they are able to give the puppy space if he exhibits any of these.
Here is a helpful RSPCA Infographic for some great ideas to help entertain your pup. Remember to always start with easy options so you set your pup up for success and limit frustration.
Click on the image to zoom
Introducing Cats to a New Puppy
If you have a cat in your household again a careful introduction is required. Even if your cat has lived happily with other dogs in the past, she may not appreciate a bouncy puppy arriving in the house. The puppy must never be given the opportunity to chase the cat so initial introductions should be either done via a puppy pen or with the puppy on a lead. This will allow the cat to approach and investigate on her own terms and leave her free to escape if she is frightened. Remember to consider your cat’s access to food, water, resting places and the cat flap and check that the presence of the puppy does not accidentally interfere with any of these.
It is worth considering the use of a plug-in pheromone diffuser or a pheromone collar for your puppy when he first arrives. There is considerable evidence that dog appeasing pheromone helps puppies to settle more quickly into their new home, interact more confidently with unfamiliar people and dogs and to settle more quietly at night. For further information please visit us.