Introducing your puppy to adults, children and pets

Introductions can be daunting for young puppies and any negative experiences can have long-lasting effects. So it’s important to learn how to make each introduction as carefully as possible.

Limit visitor numbers

To avoid overwhelming your puppy, have as few visitors as possible in their first few days with you.

Gradual introductions

Meeting lots of people at once can be intimidating for a puppy, so give them chance to get used to each person individually.

Speak calmly

Ask people to keep their excitement at meeting your puppy under wraps and use a calm tone and gentle movements.

Let your puppy make the first move

Puppies can feel threatened if they’re approached too quickly or passed from person to person. It’s best to ask people to sit quietly and wait for your puppy to approach them.

Take it slowly

Give your puppy plenty of time to get to know each person. Positive experiences now will help when they encounter new people outside your home.

Watch their body language

Look out for signs that your puppy’s anxious such as avoiding eye contact or holding their tail low. If this happens, take them out of the room so they can have some quiet time alone.

Ask children to sit quietly

Teach children to sit still and let your puppy come to them so your puppy doesn’t become startled or frightened.

Teach careful handling

Show children how to stroke your puppy and pick them up by supporting their tummy and rear end. It’s best not to allow children to pick your puppy up at all in the early days though, and make sure they know not to hug or fuss the puppy too much.

Quiet time during sleeping and eating

To avoid bites and scratches, children must know to leave puppies alone while they’re eating and sleeping.

No teasing or excitement

Don’t allow children to tease your puppy with toys or food. And make sure they understand they need to stay calm and not treat them like a toy.

Always supervise

Children should never be left alone with a puppy, and an adult should always be there when children and puppies are playing together.

Introduction checklist

Before bringing your puppy home, it’s a good idea to give them a blanket carrying your existing pets’ scent and vice versa. Then they smell familiar to each other when they meet.

Make sure your puppy’s been vaccinated before introducing them to other dogs.

Introduce other pets to your new puppy one by one on neutral ground, such as the garden or a park, so they’re less likely to feel threatened. Keep them both on a lead and give them plenty of time to sniff around and get used to one another.

Avoid chastising other pets if they don’t react positively. Animals need to establish their own rules and hierarchy to live harmoniously and older pets usually lead the way with this.

Give your puppy a place to escape to when they’re tired or intimidated.

Never leave your puppy alone with other pets.

Each pet needs their own territory where they can rest and eat undisturbed, so make sure yours have separate beds and feeding areas. Cats, in particular, will need peace and quiet out of your puppy’s reach.