Introducing a Puppy to Your Adult Dog

Sibling rivalry

Getting a new puppy is exciting—at least for the humans in the family. Sometimes the dog of the house doesn’t think the pup is a welcome addition, however. Many people believe that adding a puppy to the family will be harmonious, and that their current dog will be a good dog “mummy” or “daddy.” They are disappointed when that doesn’t happen. Often, expectations are unrealistic, but in most cases what the human family members see instead of those expectations is completely normal.

Knowing in advance what to expect can help families, and the existing dogs, make the process of introducing a new puppy to the household as easy as possible.

What to expect

I’ve had the unique experience of welcoming a new Pomeranian puppy into our house over the last 6 months.  The new pup Archie arrived when he was about 8 weeks old. He is away from his litter mates, mama, and his familiar surroundings for the very first time.

I have one dog and this new puppy addition has taught me more about how adult dogs and puppies interact between them. We’re working on puppy #1 and here is what I’ve concluded so far:

  •  My dog didnt  welcomed the puppy with open arms (paws)
  • Dogs growl and snap and move away from the pup
  • My Adult dog will never ever hurt a puppy

These observations are pretty normal.

Communication skills

Puppies are just learning how to communicate with one another. Usually, pups have only had experience reading their own littermates and mother. Their communication skills are still developing and they don’t know the “rules of the road” when it comes to interacting with new and different dogs.

Puppies playing

Puppies even have different play styles than adult dogs. When you compare the way puppies play to the way adult dogs play, the differences are vast. Dogs follow a prescribed set of rules. There is a certain way to greet one another. There is a specific way to invite play. There is a way to stop play. There is an entire manners structure that adult dogs ascribe to, and it makes their social interactions predictable and enjoyable. There is a shared language between dogs, and adult dogs are fluent in that language.

Puppies don’t follow the rules that the adult dogs depend on for good, solid doggie communication. Puppies don’t even know that rules exist! When littermate puppies play together, the only rule is: Don’t hurt one another. I’ve watched a gleeful puppy jump on his sleeping littermate’s head with reckless abandon. Upon waking, that littermate joyously engages in play with the head-jumper. With that kind of feedback, it is easy to see why puppies don’t understand that the world has rules.

When a pup arrives at a new home without another pup in sight to play with, naturally he picks the next closest thing: the adult dog. The pup does what he has done with his litter mates—launches on the head of the sleeping adult dog. “What a rude awakening,” says sleeping dog! And the snarl that comes from the adult dog is  unexpected and startling to the new puppy. Occasionally, if the snarl isn’t enough to deter the puppy from re-launching himself onto the sleepy dog, a full display of teeth along with the most guttural growl you’ve ever heard will convince the pup to cease and desist.