Introducing a New Puppy to an Existing Household Pack

After 30 plus years of having Poodles as pets and breeding a few litters, we recently obtained a new female for our little Poodle Pack. I kept thinking this was not so hard with Bogart; he had been introduced into the house with Jennifer and Eddie. I am the first to admit the integration of Bogart into the pack was made a lot easier by Jennifer, the past Lady of the pack. She took over as mother figure for Bogart, keeping him in line with hierarchy of the pack and showing him the ropes of being a good house dog. 

Yes, you may be laughing at me for saying Jennifer was responsible for showing Bogart the ropes. I am here to tell you that I did not realize how much she influenced his training and assisted me in raising Bogart to adulthood. I think we did a great job with him. Jennifer is no longer with us, so I have to take on Clara Belle’s training duties on my own this time.

So as Clara Belle (our newest addition) and I strike out on this learning process, we wanted to share our experience with everyone. We will break the issues down to Introduction to Pack and Feeding, Housebreaking and Leash Training over the next few articles.

Prior to introducing the puppy, you need to set up a day area that is safe and open for the new puppy.

Introduction to the Pack – I recommend bathing the new dog in the same shampoo as the rest of your pack. If bathing is not an option, then use a towel that has your scent on it and rub the new member down with it. I have found by doing this, the other dogs seem to be more accepting; the new member already has a similar scent.

Keep the initial introduction short; the other dogs are not going to be pleased to be sharing your attention. After the initial introduction, let the pup explore its day pen and get accustomed to the house. This is a good time to show some special attention to the existing members.

I usually wait about an hour or so then let the new pup out of the day pen to explore the house and check out the other members under close supervision. Let the other members growl or bark at the new puppy, just ensure their safety and make sure no one being too aggressive. The existing members have to show the puppy who is who in the pack.

Example: both the boys growled and got out of Clara Belle’s reach; puppy energy can be a little over-powering for adults. After the first week, the growling lessens, but the “getting out of her reach” is still the ultimate goal for both boys.

Keep these initial meetings short, controlled; keep in mind to talk to the existing members in soothing tones of assurance that they are still very loved and important members but have a new kid on the block to learn to love as well.

I have found that by playing with the puppy and keeping the other members of your pack included in the play helps with the emotional stress they are all under, and with learning that this new member is here to stay.

Don’t expect everyone to get along the first few weeks. The puppy has to learn so many things, from toilet training to who is the Alpha in the pack. The other members may even have some regression in behaviors but these all should rectify themselves, if you continue to give the existing members their own special time and attention.

You don’t want to disrupt the household routine, so even with the training of the new puppy, include it as part of the normal routine and include the whole pack as much as possible.

Feeding – remember the new puppy will not be on the same schedule the first day as the rest of the house, so you need to slowly adjust the puppy to the household schedule. Keep the puppy in the day pen for feedings. This reduces the stress on the existing members and allows everyone to have their meals as routinely as possible.

I have also found that giving the existing members special dinner a few times the first week really does help them adjust, and that maybe the new kid is not so bad — she may be responsible for the special meals. Who am I to say different? It seems to work and I speak from experience.