Introducing Your Dog to Other Pets

Author: Bella (proHOUND Co-Founder)

Before I start, I should mention that this post is aimed at those who want to introduce their new dog to their other dog, cat, rabbit or even to their chickens; correctly socialising your dogs/co-existing with dogs that aren’t in your household is a separate topic. You may still glean some helpful info here! 



Introducing your puppy to your older dog

  • Reward desirable behaviour such as choosing to check in with you instead of focusing on the older dog & settling in the presence of your older dog. 
    You can make your puppy’s training sessions (it is advisable to use their meals) based on correct behaviour around your older dog if you want! 
  • Providing your older dog is overall stable & neutral, it is okay for him to correct your puppy. Puppies must learn body language from balanced adult dogs. Having said that, you need to draw the line somewhere - puppies are excitable little buggers and your adult dog should not have to tolerate overexcitement for too long. 
    Overall, it is not your older dog’s responsibility to teach your puppy manners – that’s your job. Support your older dog’s boundaries and support your puppy to become respectful of other dogs’ boundaries.
    NB learning body language includes learning how to play too; if your older adult fancies a play, great! If not, perhaps you know another stable, neutral adult who would like to play for a little while and can teach your puppy polite play skills in a safe environment (i.e. your trainer or your friend’s well-trained dog in your or their home, not a random dog at the dog park!!). 
    I’ll use Ava as an example here. She is great with puppies to an extent – she generally does not want to play (this is useful because she can teach a puppy that other dogs are boring) BUT she will not correct a pushy puppy, so I have to intervene. I intervene for two reasons: 1) just because she won’t correct a pushy puppy doesn’t mean she should have to tolerate something she isn’t enjoying and 2) it isn’t helpful for the puppy’s socialisation to think he can continue pestering her. 
  • Use tools such as crates & leads to your advantage. Puppies need lots of downtime in crates anyway because they need to sleep so much; make sure your older dog has plenty of time to himself with the puppy put away. Your older dog’s routine should not change at all and he should never have to worry about sharing resources. Keep your puppy on a lead if he doesn’t yet have the impulse control to stop bouncing all over your adult constantly (I like to have puppies on the lead a lot in the house anyway on the rare occasion they aren’t in their crate; this stops them from sneaking off to pee or chew). 
  • Work on your puppy’s training away from your adult dog; your puppy isn’t remotely on the same level as your adult therefore they both need plenty of 1:1 time. However, you can definitely use your older dog as a controlled distraction in training. I also recommend on-lead walks and plenty of structure overall if your puppy continually finds your adult overexciting, as well as co-existing with plenty of other decent dogs overall to create a neutral association


Further down the line, as with playing with any dog, I wouldn’t recommend it if one or both parties cannot understand the other dog wants to stop or if you cannot recall one or both parties away from the play. 




Introducing your dog to your cat 

  • In some ways, this is much the same as introducing your puppy to your older dog. But there is an added element of potential prey drive with a cat: they are fun to chase!! 
  • Please tread very carefully if you have adopted an adult dog and you are unsure if they have been correctly socialised around cats. 
    Once again, you need to reward correct behaviour and use tools. Cats tend to dart which can trigger a dog into being excited. With dog-dog introductions, pending a few things, I am normally happy for them to be able to see each other from the start. I feel it is useful for the cat and the dog to be completely separated for a few days though so they can adjust to the brand new smell (I presume cats smell completely differently to a dog than the smell of other dogs!). 
  • Another thing with cats (as well as chickens and small pets such as rabbits, come to think of it) is that you can’t go on structured walks with your cat in tow and your cat probably also won’t be happy to be put in a crate so you can have structured relaxation time either. You therefore need to take much smaller steps when integrating your dog and cat. 
  • Ava’s early days were spent with two cats; it was helpful that I knew their routine was to come downstairs in the evenings, so at first Ava would be in her crate in the evenings. Puppies need to sleep a lot anyway. 
  • The better I trained Ava and the less she therefore wanted to pester the cats, the more the cats felt safe enough to be around her, meaning we could all relax and co-exist together. This was achieved pretty early on because of consistency, communication and engagement! 
    (Urgh, that would have been so much more memorable had it been 3 Cs!)


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