The Weekly Q&A: Ask Way of Life™ Dog Training
Integrating a New Puppy into the Family

Integrating a new puppy

Q: I’d like to find out more about how you might be able to assist me, either virtually or in person, as I welcome a second dog to my household. The new puppy is coming home this Monday and I have a three-year-old dog already at home. I’d like to make this transition as comfortable as possible for both dogs. My current dog is no longer in crates and is a lovely family dog, though I could use help with a couple of his behaviors (digging being one). The new puppy is already crate trained and I plan to maintain that and keep the dogs on separate floors of the house to begin with. Please be in touch if you’re interested and available in helping me. Thank you!

A: Thank you for reaching out to us ahead of your puppy’s arrival! Too often, we get calls after the fact and usually when things are starting to go down the rails. So congratulations on the arrival of your new puppy and being proactive with the transition because change is not nearly as easy on dogs as we think. Unless they are in a solid relationship with someone who has raised them to be sound, strong, and spirited, change often brings to the surface issues brewing beneath. Transitions matter for both the new pup and the existing dog and you are right to plan your introduction consciously and proactively.

It’s also great to hear that your existing dog is generally well behaved except for the issues that you noted and could use some assistance with. When it comes to what appears as isolated issues, I take a different stance on things. I see issues, big or small, as reflecting a situation. I treat it as such until all aspects of the way of life are examined including managing space and boundaries, socialization, developing drives, and the handler’s relationship with and mindset toward the dog. Any time I am working on a dog’s issues, I set aside ideas of the dog being “lovely” and focus on the full reality.

The last idea I will share here is more practical and pertains to your dog no longer being crated. I hope you might consider the relationship between the lack of structure created by not crating anymore and the behaviors you could be dealing with. Digging might appear like a minor concern but there’s nothing like a change of environment, in this case the arrival of a new puppy, to make minor concerns worse. Therefore, I recommend you reintegrate the crate and begin stabilizing the existing dog before you bring Junior home. This will make the management of the two dogs as separate elements easier, improving the likelihood of a successful integration. 

To find out more about introducing a new pup and raising a sound, strong, and spirited pup, see our free Puppy Primer.

Good luck!

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