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How can I ensure my puppy bonds with my old gun dog?

New puppy meets faithful old gundog. What do you need to know? Mark Whitehouse offers some tips

sprocker puppy with older dog

After her initial unease, Rowan now allows the puppy to share her bed

Introducing an older dog and puppy

It’s coming up to the time of year when puppies are on the horizon. Spring is a good time to bring a new puppy home because the weather tends to be a bit better, making house training easier and the longer light evenings means you can start some gentle puppy training.

However if you already have a dog in the household then how do you go about introducing an older dog and puppy? A boisterous eight week old spaniel encroaching on an older spaniel’s territory would cause problems in any home environment.

What to expect

Beware of your old gun dog reacting in a protective and possibly aggressive manner, which would scare your puppy and knock its confidence.

It’s hardly surprising if the established dog reacts in this way. For the past 10 years or so your old gun dog has had all your canine attention, combined with the run of your home and garden. He hasn’t had to share and is top dog.

Bring a new puppy into the mix and your existing canine companion will feel very put out if the new puppy threatens his position.

gundog puppies and COVID-19

Put the puppy on a lead to meet the older dog

What to do

Choose a neutral place away from your home for the first introduction, perhaps in a local park or friend’s garden – somewhere that is new to both of them.

Put the older dog on a lead whilst somebody else holds the puppy on a lead. Let them sniff and meet one another, you don’t want them to feel restricted.

This first introduction should be short. Stay calm, dogs can sense tension and your older dog will look at you to see how he should react.

For the first couple of weeks, the older dog and puppy should be watched to make sure they are comfortable with one another. Stick to the older dog’s routine.

Crate training puppies

A crate gives a puppy a safe place when you are not there, which is useful if there are other dogs in the house

Watch playtimes. The puppy will want to play with the older dog and may not interpret body language correctly.

Both dogs should have places where they can get away from each other. This is where crate training a puppy is invaluable. The crate is a puppy’s safe space and whilst the youngster is in there you know that the older dog is being left alone.

Both animals should have sleeping and feeding areas away from each other – certainly for the first two to three months. In addition, both should always have their own feeding and water bowls.

In time, the two will probably become the best of friends but that first introduction and the first few weeks need handling carefully.