Prepping Your 'Top Dog' for the New Puppy

A new puppy is an exciting thing, but if you’ve been a one-dog person most of your life, we have a few handy tips to help you prepare your older dog for the arrival of the puppy and transform you into a multi-dog owner!

Stop and Think

Before you walk in the door with your new puppy, think about your "top dog." If he’s a friendly chap who loves to play with other dogs on a regular basis, the introduction could be very easy. If, however, he’s more of a lone wolf without much experience with other dogs, it could take a while. You know your dog best, and the kind of pooch he is will have definite impact on your next steps.

House Check

Give yourself plenty of time before the big introduction. Even if you’ve decided for them to meet outdoors on neutral ground, it’s still a good idea to pick a room (for their first few interactions) and have it cleared of food bowls, toys, bedding … in fact, anything top dog considers his. This will help stop any possessiveness, which could lead to inter-dog aggression.

Bring a Friend

This way both dogs can be tightly leashed and separated, if necessary. It’s also a good idea for you to hold your older dog’s leash and have your friend bring in the puppy. Go slow and let them get used to being in the same space with each other. Then, while still leashed, let them say hello.

Dear Miss Manners ...

My puppy wants to bounce all over my older dog and lick his face. He shows his displeasure by snapping at the puppy, which is his way of teaching the pup some manners. What should I do? Don’t worry. It may look frightening, but it’s also natural. All the same, it’s a good idea to have the friend pull the puppy away.

To Crate or Not to Crate?

That is indeed the question, especially if your top dog is a little too aggressive towards the puppy. You can continue the introductions over the next week by using a crate for the puppy, or even better, by using a baby gate to keep them separated, which still allows them to socialize and get used to each other.


It’s important to let them play together as they adjust to each other, as well as have play time separately. Too much separation may spark a resentment toward the other, so keep things nicely balanced.

Attention Hound

Remember your top dog is used to having you to himself, so don’t forget to spend time with just him on a regular basis. This will help ease any resentment towards the puppy. And you’ll need to spend time with just the puppy, too. Of course, you should not forget to spend time with them together, either.

Follow these easy tips and you’ll soon have two happy, well-adjusted dogs to love and play with.

Image: Scot Campbell / via Flickr

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