Ask Tom, the Dogcharmer: New puppy

Getting the new guy to join the pack

How to break a new puppy into the old boys' network

Dear Tom:

We have two dogs and are soon to get a puppy. While we have always rotated in one new puppy after the older dog has died, we have never tried to introduce a puppy to what obviously is already an existing pack. The older dog is 12 and a standard wirehaired dachshund, and the younger one is a 6-year-old German shorthaired pointer. They are devoted to each other. Any thoughts on how to make sure the original two make room in their pack for a young puppy who’s bound to annoy the heck out of them on a daily basis?

Right now I’m thinking of holding off on adding Georgia to the mix until Tuesday morning, but having Otto home and introducing the puppy to him early Monday evening when I get back. Occurred to me it a) might make it easier, and b) might be more welcoming for the puppy to have one of his own in the house.


Crazy in Chilmark

Dear Crazy in Chilmark,

So now you’ll have 12 dog feet instead of eight prancing about the house. Congratulations on the addition to the pack. I’d suggest that you have them meet off your property. Territoriality or territorial response is one of the main reasons man and dog bonded in the first place. Dogs are natural alarm and security systems. Most dogs will bark with different degrees of aggression and pushiness when anyone or anything enters the property or house. Yet most dogs are much less pushy in an open field away from home when meeting another person or dog. Especially when they’re off-leash! That’s because with a leash they’re attached to you, and that gives the dog the confidence that “you got its back,” which often makes them tougher.

Take the leash off and walk away, and lo and behold, Bowser has to fend for himself and becomes “Mr. Friendly.” Ideally, have them all meet in an open space, not on your property, no leashes.

Something else that might be helpful — prior to their meeting, rub your dogs with two rags and see if you can have them put under the puppy’s bed and food bowl, and get rags with the puppy’s scent to put where your dogs eat and sleep. Eating and sleeping are very positive places for the dogs to acquaint each other with their smells. As for your second question about only having Otto meet the pup on Monday and Georgia on Tuesday, I’m OK with that. It will be less overwhelming for the puppy, and when Georgia meets the new arrival on Tuesday, he will have the smell of Otto and home, two of Georgia’s favorite scents. It might also add to everyone’s receptiveness because Otto and the puppy are the same breed. In my experience, I’ve seen what looked pretty clearly to me like breed recognition. My search and rescue Dobermans, Michelle and Mike, both seemed to be cognizant and react a bit differently whenever they met other Dobes.

Good luck,

The Dogcharmer

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