Introducing a New Puppy to the Pack: 7 Steps That This Dog Mom Took For Happier Hellos

new labrador retriever puppy sitting next to 6-year-old adult Goldendoodle  after first introduction

Introducing a new puppy to the pack

Are you excited to introduce a new puppy to the pack? Maybe you’re wondering how the new pup and your older dog will get along? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Not long ago, we were in the same shoes. (And now those shoes are always put in the closet so the new puppy can’t chew on the shoestrings!) Yes, our family pack is growing! Before the new puppy’s arrival, we did a little preparation and research so that the “welcome to the pack” moment would be a pawsitive 🙂 one for the new puppy and for our 6-year-old Goldendoodle named Chloe too.

Meet our new friend, Little Bear

photo labrador retriever puppy's face

First of all, meet Little Bear. We couldn’t be more excited to have him join the family pack! He’s my first “grand fur baby” or “grand puppy” and I’m lucky to be his puppy sitter on many weekends and some weekdays too!

Bear is a Labrador Retriever with an expressive face and a nose for adventure. (So far, his sniffer has served him well in tracking down dead worms in the yard and microscopic crumbs under the kitchen table!) His name was chosen after deciding that he looked like a little polar bear cub. (BTW…if you’re searching for names for your new puppy, we created hundreds of name ideas and naming tips too. Check them out here: 250 cute puppy names ending in y or ie, 101 old-fashioned puppy names, 111 red dog names, and Goldendoodle dog names.)

Before Bear’s arrival, we brushed up on how to introduce a new puppy to an adult dog. It had been six years Chloe’s Goldendoodle puppy days, so the memories of teething and potty time and introductions to new dogs had started to fade. Since the pup and dood were going to spend many days together, we wanted to make sure that they got along from the get-go. Here are five things that worked for us when introducing the new pup and our adult dog.

1. Visiting with the vet about both dogs’ health and well-being before the introduction

photo puppy lying on exam table at the vet's office for check up before introducing puppy to adult dog

Before we introduced the Little Bear to our 6-year-old dog Chloe, the pup had a well-check visit and vaccinations at the vet. In addition to the physical exam, the veterinary team prepped us on how to keep both dogs healthy. Since Chloe is up-to-date on all of her vaccinations, they had no concerns about her passing along any “germs” (my language, not the docs) to the new puppy.

However, our veterinary team recommended a quarantine period before Chloe and Bear’s introduction. This was in Chloe’s best interest since a new puppy could, unbeknownst to everyone, be harboring a virus and not showing signs yet. (Fast forward: no viruses!)

Also, our veterinarian carefully explained the importance of being vigilant about introducing other dogs (besides Chloe) to the puppy until he’s had his vaccinations (aka no puppy parks or visits to dog-friendly places like the pet store). If you’re adopting a new puppy, please speak with your vet about introducing your furry pal to the family pack and to other dogs. This is a great question to ask at the first puppy vet visit. If you’d like more info about puppy socialization (and why not to take new puppies to dog parks), there is an informative article on Preventive Vet’s website.

2. Choosing a neutral location for the introduction

photo introducing the new puppy to the adult dog for the first time and dog's sniffing each other

When it was time for canine introductions, we chose a neutral location—one that neither Chloe nor Bear thought of as their own space. Plus, it was a fairly quiet area that rarely had passersby. We kept both Bear and Chloe on leash and let them get to know each other on their own time and in their own way.

3. Walking them home after the introduction

After introductions, we walked Bear and Chloe home—both on leash. (If you’d like to see how they greeted one another and walked home, please check out the “new friends” video above.) In Bear’s case, it’s been amazingly easy to train him to loose leash walk, so walking has been a great way for both dogs to burn off some energy. (Do you plan on taking your dog on walks? For a checklist of things to bring along with you, check out my post: 9 Essentials for Happy Outings With Your Dog.)

4. Placing food and water bowls in separate rooms

Keeping both dogs’ food dishes in separate locations and remembering to pick up the food bowls is sometimes tricky. If we don’t keep Chloe’s food out of reach, Bear would gobble up his food and run to find hers. (Like many Labrador Retrievers, Bear-Bear is very food motivated.) Plus, the two dogs don’t eat the same dog food and the last thing we wanted was for either of them to get an upset stomach from eating the other’s dog food. Also, while Chloe and Bear get along, having separate eating areas is just a smart way to avoid any chance of food aggression issues.

5. Putting Chloe’s favorite toys up

Before Bear’s arrival, we put Chloe’s favorite toys away. We didn’t want any source of tension for her.

6. Letting them play, watching them constantly, giving them each their own space

For the puppy’s safety, we kept all the doors closed to other rooms of the house except one living area. That way it was easy to keep a constant eye on the little fella. Also, I recommend a baby gate if you have an area like the kitchen or living room that you can cordon off.

It’s worth mentioning that the saying “don’t eat the elephant all at once” applies to the puppy/adult dog introduction too. The first hello. A walk home. Time together in a room in the house. Chloe and Bear had taken the first steps toward becoming friends. Now it was time for both Chloe and Bear to have some alone time. Chloe headed to the bedroom for her rest and Bear took a nap in the living room.

photo labrador retriever puppy sleeping

7. Practicing new tricks together

photo adult goldendoodle dog and labrador retriever puppy after introductions ready to practice sit command

Finally, when Bear comes to visit, we plan ways to keep them both entertained. Like Chloe when she was a puppy, he has two speeds: Energizer Bunny and Zonked Out. So brain games, practicing new tricks, learning basic commands, and lots of games of fetch are part of the furry festivities. I use treats, plenty of head rubs, and heaping amounts of praise during the brief sessions.

If you’re curious to see which tricks Chloe and Bear have learned, don’t miss out. Sign up for my e-newsletter to receive my companion blog post: Sit. Stay. Come. Two Pups Practice Together.

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It’s been such a joy to welcome another furry family member to our pack. If you’re considering a second dog, I hope your little fur baby’s arrival is a positive, happy time for both your adult pup, the new puppy, and your entire family pack.

Do you have tips for introducing a new puppy to the pack?

We’d love to hear! Please comment below.

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