Every time that I have brought a new pup home, Great Dane or not, I am taken by their strength. Not their physical strength, but their ability to adapt and change based on their surroundings. Some take their time and think about the situation, and others just plow right into their new lives. If a dog is a, “Thinker,” you’ve got to give them that space to figure things out.
Many times when you first bring that puppy home, the inclination is to smother it with hugs and kisses, and more hugs and kisses. I would imagine that often times the first thing on the pup’s mind is, “Hey…..I gotta pee!!,” and second, “Who’s gonna feed me?” Let alone the forlorn feeling of leaving it’s pack. So the question is…..Do you introduce him to everyone (dogs, cats, people) in your home all at once, or over time? The best success I have had is that within that same day, the pup has met every member of its new pack. That’s how it would be in the wild; that’s how it is at the dog park.
I go with people first. You want the puppy to establish right away what members of the pack are higher in the pecking order. People first…a few hugs, a few kisses then the pup is on the ground and more training begins….but first…they need to meet the four legged members of the pack.
There are different ways to introduce a new puppy to an established pack, even if that means just one other dog. For instance, one Dane we had would sniff and sniff and sniff and sniff, and slobber and slobber and slobber, and slobber while I held the newbie on my lap. When she was done, be it kitten, puppy, or hamster…..they were wet from head to toe, and they were officially hers.
For other dogs, the introductions were best done with space to move about. When we brought Penni home, we had two older dogs of 11 and 13 years. They were pretty set in their ways…and both raised by the Dane girl mentioned above. Our family had worked a lot with our local animal shelter as a foster home in their puppy and kitten program, so these two had a lot of experience welcoming litters of Littles throughout their years. I knew that our German Wirehair Pointer, Tucker, would grumble at the pups in a nonthreatening way, and our little Rat Terrier/Poodle mix, Karli, would instantly go into Mama-dog mode. Since most of our litters were only 3 – 4 weeks old when they would come to us, introductions were indoors and on my lap, much like with our Dane mentioned above, yet without the slobber and maybe one or two less sniffs. However, Penni was a bigger puppy…15 pounds at 8 weeks old, the size of a small adult dog.
I decided that introductions would be best outside. Our two older dogs had been retired for a few years from their jobs in helping with our foster litters…I thought it best if we had a little move around room. Introductions came with one dog at a time, starting with our little girl, Karli.
Then we took Karli away, put Tucker on a loose leash and brought him out to meet the new puppy. Meeting nose to nose, right on schedule….
….Tucker went into his grumble mode of “Hey, I kind of like you, sort of, but don’t you be thinking I’m your friend.” And, Karli corrected Penni ‘s every misstep. Walking into the house after their initial greeting…the pack began to take shape.
If you noticed during the introduction, I mentioned a loose leash. This is really important. When you keep the leash tight, the dog wants to instinctually pull and in a dog’s mind it says, “Why shouldn’t I be able to check that dog out? What is wrong with that dog?” You have to keep control of your dog in a situation of meeting the other dog coming into your home, and if on a lead, don’t allow the pulling at the end of a tight lead. Maybe easier said than done, especially if your adult dog is 150 pounds, but this pulling means your dog is no longer listening to you and is totally driven by it’s own agenda. If you have to walk your dog away, and observe from a distance for awhile do that. Let their brain come back to you before you attempt the reintroduction. Always let your older dog know that you are in control…it may take time, but don’t be embarrassed or apologetic. This is not a time to rush.
This past year, we had an addition to our family in the form of a Basset Hound puppy. Since Penni is not very feet aware when she is excited, our method of introduction between her and the new pup was a little different. This time, we let Penni and Tubias meet while my daughter held the puppy on her lap sitting in the truck with the door open. This put the pup right at level with Penni, rather than on the ground having to maneuver around those big paws. When Basset Hounds are puppies, they are a bit clumsy because they step on their ears quite often. I was not confident that if the pup had to move quickly, he would be able to do so without tripping…hence getting stepped on. This introduction went really great, and was an awesome adaptation to the meet-n-greet method of meeting outside first, then moving indoors. Penni and Tubias’ relationship was quickly forged!
Sometimes you have to think out-of-the-box when it comes to canine introductions and interactions. Use your instincts, you know your adult dog…take into consideration how they react to new things in their environment, and other dogs. Run with that and formulate a plan that works with your dog’s strengths and weaknesses. **Sometimes meeting in a park or somewhere else first** and then driving together in the same car, arriving at the home together is a great way to introduce the thought in your dog’s mind that it’s okay that the new pup is now at his house….”It must be okay, I brought him here.”
**Always, always, always remember…..if you have a puppy younger than 4 months old, they do not have their complete set of vaccinations and their immunities are low. Never put a pup on the ground in a public place until the last of the vaccination series is given. Parvo-virus and Distemper, etc are real diseases and your pup is very susceptible.**
A quick word about the puppy introduction to your pet cats. I found that it is best to let the cat decide when they will introduce themselves to the pup. Let the cats go about their normal business, and naturally the introduction will take place. There will be hissing, there will be raising up of backs, there will be kitty paws smacking curious puppy noses…but in time the dust will settle and there will be some kind of cohesiveness. They may not be buddy, buddies, or they might…but the dust will eventually settle. With that in mind, however, do intervene if the pup is harassing the cat…the puppy should have manners around the cat, and you need to teach them these (along with the cat…the cat will teach them too…LOL.)
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