How should I introduce my puppy to my three terriers?
April 25, 2004 6:52 AM   Subscribe

Any tips on introducing a puppy to his three (!!) new brothers and sisters? They are all small dogs, but they are wily...[more inside]

The new puppy is a westie (west highland terrier), and two of the other dogs are adult terriers, one is a small adult mutt. In the past this introduction proces has been rough going, especially with terriers, who are notoriously territorial. The other three dogs get along ok now, but they can be pretty rough with each other, which is my main concern. We have a big yard and a house with a dog-friendly basement and first floor at our disposal. Should I segregate the puppy when noone is home? Should I introduce him to them one at a time? Any experience appreciated.
posted by Harvey Birdman to Pets & Animals (5 answers total)
Do you already have the puppy? If not, make sure that you make the first introduction on neutral ground, like at a friend's house or at a park that you don't visit often. That smooths things out a lot. You should introduce all the dogs at once.

As I see it, you have two main goals with this:
1) Preventing the puppy from annoying the shit out of the other dogs.
2) Preventing the other dogs from killing the annoying puppy.

#2 doesn't tend to be a huge problem, since even crabby dogs usually have some built-in puppy tolerance. When you say that they're being rough, do you mean just normal dog-play, noisy bitey stuff, or are they consistently drawing blood or doing significant damage to each other? If it's the former, you probably don't need to worry about the dogs hurting the puppy, although you should still keep an eye on how they interact with the puppy when you are home.

To deal with #1, there should be a place that your older dogs can go that the puppy can't. Are you planning on crate training? I wouldn't isolate your puppy doing the day, since if he is under 6 months, this is a really, really important social learning time, and no one teaches social skills better than other dogs.

I'm sure you've seen this with your other dogs, but don't freak out if one of your older dogs go after the puppy if the puppy is being obnoxious (taking toys or beds from older dogs, getting in their faces, etc.).

Good luck!
posted by LittleMissCranky at 7:27 AM on April 25, 2004

I've actually changed my thinking on the neutral ground idea, although that's been standard advice for a long time. It was pointed out to me by a very experienced dog person that introducing them on neutral ground robs the puppy of the vitally important information that the house was the other dogs' territory first, dogs behave very differently toward each other on neutral ground than on "owned" territory (which is the thinking behind the "neutral ground" theory, but which I think actually works against the new dog in a case where a new dog is being introduced to a home). Do not under any circumstances leave them alone together unsupervised, you have enough dogs that some seriously unpleasant pack behaviours are a distinct possibility, and that can leave you with a badly injured or even dead puppy. Introduce them one at a time in a large enough area that they can keep good distance between each other, and make sure there are places for the puppy to hide. Good luck, and remember to spend time with the puppy each day away from the other dogs, or he won't bond properly to you.
posted by biscotti at 9:53 AM on April 25, 2004

Oh, and while allowing the older dogs to tell the puppy off is fine, be on the lookout for bullying and put a stop to it.

And do not leave any high value items (bones, favourite toys, cow hooves, whatever) around, or you're asking for guarding behaviour.
posted by biscotti at 9:55 AM on April 25, 2004

The advice I heard, and it seems was as applicable to the 'new child' situation as the new pet, was to bring them together and for the first occasion and perhaps once more, pointedly make a fuss of the established animal(s)/child/children, whilst pretty-much ignoring the newcomer.
This is done to assuage the fears that the present incumbent is being replaced or has lost favour, avoiding the development of jealousy, and its subsequent ills.
The pattern is then set at this first meeting (perhaps at the second also) and the incumbent sees the incomer as no threat, secure in their own position within the group.

Personally, I'd feather the ruse into the next week as well, but apparently it's not necessary, largely because of the way minds work: picking a cue and tripping off it; establishing a 'fact' and running with it - because the ruse is employed at the very start, where the incumbent's views are not established, you're basically overpowering their doubts and fears with a concerted effort, which they will likely lap up and run with.

Sneaky; and they'll never know you secretly prefer the cuter new pup! :)
posted by Blue Stone at 10:32 AM on April 25, 2004

Take several items and rub them all over the puppy and drop items at home where the other dogs will become familiar with the scent.

Also, I don't know why we did this, but it helped with some of the territorial issues, and that was to remove any dog toys before the pup arrives. Then after several days the toys can be added in; we threw out the old and bought new.
posted by Feisty at 4:06 PM on April 25, 2004

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