When it comes to dogs, you can't have just one. Depending on the dogs you already have, adding a puppy could either be beneficial or create an out of control pack. Determine if bringing a new pup home is for the best and how to safely do so.
The members of a stable pack, with you as the established human leader, are compatible with each other and will allow room for the right new addition. Three or more dogs create a complicated and sensitive social group, and so adding a puppy will no doubt change the dynamic of your pack. If you are unable to physically control the ones you already have, reconsider adding a new member. Do not buy a puppy on a whim, but rather take the time to determine if this is the right choice. Learn about the intricacies of different breeds in addition to your own dogs' individual personalities in order to add the best puppy to your pack at the right time. Further estimate how an additional dog will affect daily life over the next five to 10 years, including time, room and expenses.
Introduce one of your dogs to the puppy in a neutral territory. If possible, bring your dog to the shelter where you are purchasing the puppy. They will sniff each other briefly, but do not allow them to sniff for too long nor force interaction. Use treats and praise as positive reinforcement and speak commands, such as "sit," if you need to get their attention. Beware of prolonged staring, raised hackles, stiff legs, bared teeth or growling, as these are aggressive behaviors. Since two or more dogs can gang up on a puppy, another option is to use crates to introduce each member of the pack, one-on-one, to the new addition.
Elderly dogs do not despise young pups. They simply have less stamina to keep up with an energetic, playful puppy. In turn, puppies younger than 4 months may not recognize certain social cues to leave the dogs alone. Determine if your older dogs have good temperaments before leaving them alone with the puppy; they will ignore him or emit a low growl but should never bite the pup. It is best to get the puppy in a calm state before introducing him to older dogs by playing with him or taking him for a walk. Females also tend to be fiercer fighters than male dogs. Once a puppy is attacked, he will become wary of meeting any new dogs. You must show the pack that you will not tolerate any aggressive behavior by immediately interposing yourself.
Continue to supervise all interactions between the pack and the new pup. If you cannot be around, tire the puppy out before crating him to associate this as a rest area; however, do not leave him in the crate all of the time. In addition to interacting with your dogs individually, which promotes the human relationship, allow the dominant dog to be the pack leader under you, even if it is the new puppy. Playing favorites will cause confusion and disorder in the pack. Refrain from encouraging any dog on the furniture or mandatory sharing of toys. You ultimately decide when food and toys are put down and picked up; do not leave them around to provoke fights.
Pam Smith has been writing since 2005. In addition to her work for Demand Media, her articles have been published online at CBS Local. She also wrote for the Pennsylvania Center for the Book's Literary Map while earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in English at the Pennsylvania State University. She is currently an editorial assistant for Circulation Research.