Friday, April 11, 2014

Introducing a Puppy to an Adult Dog

My husband and I puppy-sat Hunter, his dad's 2-month old labrador, for a couple of days. We were excited to re-introduce him to Boomer, since their first sniff when Hunter was only a few weeks old wasn't very successful. We were hoping that since Hunter is a little bit older and bigger now, they would get along more.

We were both right and wrong.

Hunter is obviously still a puppy, and he is perpetually rambunctious and constantly teething. When he arrived, Boomer wasn't happy about it at all. She growled and tried biting his neck, which really scared us. We would reprimand her every time she showed hostility and never let her anywhere near Hunter without holding on to her collar.

Our mistake here was that we hadn't done any research at all when it comes to introducing puppies to adult dogs. As far as we knew, Boomer had one of the best temperaments and we couldn't imagine her attacking a smaller animal. Besides, she was constantly exposed to dogs at the dog park and our family's other dogs, who were both smaller.

I didn't realize how glaring the difference was from introducing her to an actual puppy, since she would socialize with dogs in the large breed section of the park, and our family's dogs were all at least six years old.

The next morning, I noticed that Boomer was showing interest in getting to know Hunter. She would sniff and wag her tail while trying to sneak a peek under the closed door of our kitchen, where we kept Hunter. I decided to open the door just enough to let Hunter's little head in, and the two sniffed each other happily. I slowly opened the door a little bit more until finally they were both in the same room together, and I was pleasantly surprised to see how they instantly bonded!

They were inseparable. They played until they were tired enough to nap just a little bit, and went back to playing again until it was time for Hunter to go home.

Some things I learned when introducing a puppy to an adult dog:

Do your research or ask an expert. There are tons of material on the internet on how to introduce new animals to your pets, and if you have the resources for it, hire an expert, especially when your pet shows hostility towards other animals.

Provide a neutral environment. Introducing Hunter to Boomer became more successful when we did it in a neutral environment, where property such as food, treats, or toys were nowhere to be had. I noticed that Boomer, being the alpha in this situation, would act violently towards Hunter when her food dish or bone are around. Dogs will be dogs, so always be smart about their dominating mannerisms. Always avoid situations that could potentially harm either of them.

Let dogs be dogs! I learned that dogs need to feel trusted. Give them time to learn something new, and allow them to be independent. Boomer exhibited much more openness and patience towards Hunter when I stopped holding on to her collar and letting her do her thing, on her own terms. 

I'm proud of Boomer, but I have to say I'm quite proud of myself and my husband as well! We realized that we raised our dog quite well, and we're extremely happy that she's made another friend.

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