How to prepare your “alpha dog” for a new puppy
Expanding the fur family is exciting once you find yourself ready for it, but if you already have one of these family members, the most important factor to consider is whether your existing alpha dog is too.
If you have been a “one-dog” family for a while now, regardless of your current dog’s age, you may want to plan accordingly as to how you will introduce this transition.
Consider your dog’s temperament
You may have a dog that highly favors other fur friends and welcomes a playmate when given the opportunity. Most of us know a social dog when we see one, and in this case the introduction can be easier.
However, if your dog is more of a “lone-wolf” the transition to this new addition in the home will take a little longer than expected. It’s important to consider what you know about your dog so you can make this approach as comfortable as possible for them.
Remove existing dog items to avoid tension
Introducing two dogs for the first time is typically ideal outdoors and in a neutral area before you do it in the home. The front or backyard is easy, but you can even make it happen at the park.
It’s helpful to make sure there are no existing toys or possessions lying around to reduce any tension that it may create. In fact, your dog may appreciate a designated area with all their belongings in one spot to make that boundary known. You’ll want to make sure the alpha doesn’t experience a threat, and can still appreciate those possessions in the future. This can assist in preventing dog-to-dog aggression in the home.
Ask a friend to help with the introduction
Having more than one person greet the two dogs is ideal as one can hold the leash of the newcomer, and you can work with your existing dog ease into saying the big “hello’. Make sure you both hold the leashes with slack to avoid tension. This should be done in a safe, controlled environment where they feel comfortable, and your presence should remain calm and optimistic.
You can take them on a brief walk, allowing for some distance between them. If they show a liking to one another sooner than later, and portray appropriate body language, you can shrink the distance between them.
If there is automatic tension or any form of a brawl, it’s time to separate them. Avoid pulling on their leashes as it can make them more anxious. Instead, lure them away from each other with a treat in opposite directions.
If both dogs seem happily interested in one another, gradually drop the leash and let them meet face to face.
Expect your alpha to be alpha
You may be inclined to remove or discourage corrections made by your alpha to the new pup, but this is actually normal behavior between dogs as their ancestral instincts encourage newcomers to understand where they fit in in the “wolf pack”.
Your alpha needs to continue to feel like alpha, and it’s okay for them to make a little “snap” or “snarl” here and there to establish how they want to be respected to your new puppy. If you notice any escalated situations, separate the two for a bit if it seems like your alpha is “over-disciplining” your puppy.
Establish a routine and boundaries
It’s important to closely supervise the dog’s interactions the first few weeks. You should encourage playtime opportunities but avoid leaving them alone together the first few weeks to make sure they’re comfortable. Any undesirable behavior or concern like snipping, baring teeth, growling, long stares, or raised fur are all signs of dog-to-dog aggression and may require monitored interactions and playtime but in controlled doses for a while.
Moreover, your alpha dog's eating area should be separate from your puppies. When it comes to meal time, dish your alpha’s food first and the puppy’s second. Moreover, implement small boundaries and acts of patience such as having your alpha walk out the doorway or jump down from the car first.Your puppy will catch on soon enough and reassures your alpha nothing in that aspect has changed for them.
Allow for duo and solo playtime
Letting the dogs play together as much as possible is optimal for their physical and mental health, as well as their relationship.
In addition, it’s a good idea to implement solo playtime for each dog as it strengthens your relationship with the dogs, and avoids over exhausting their relationship so playtime doesn’t turn into potential inappropriate behavior.
Remember, your first fur child has only known you and only you, so it’s important to maintain spending time with them one on one. They will appreciate it, and it will help any overzealous behavior from occurring. Create a consistent, healthy balance between the time you spend with them one on one and together.
Taking in a new family member can be tricky, not only for you, but for existing pets. Remember that the seniority your alpha dog desires is important and taking introductions slowly can help the adoption and make for a pleasant transition for all parties involved. Overtime, most dogs will get used to each other and may even become best buddies. Our best advice is, be prepared to share the love!