Just like people, your new puppy can be anxious. Coming home to you, they will be in a new, unfamiliar environment with unfamiliar people. The most common form of puppy anxiety is separation anxiety. Once a puppy has bonded with someone, they may get anxious when that person leaves. If you have other pets in the house, this can make them anxious too. The symptoms of a dog’s anxiety can be pacing, excessive whining and barking, hiding, and attempting to escape through open doors or windows. They may pant or tremble too, which is more apparent in smaller breeds such as Chihuahuas.
You shouldn’t try to reassure your puppy when they are exhibiting anxious behavior, as they may take this as a reward for this behavior, and this could lead to your dog simulating anxiety to get your attention. Do not constantly give them attention when they are anxious. If you give them a consistent and calm environment that they can adjust to, they can work out their anxiety on their own. Many trainers teach their dogs to sit and be quiet for periods of time. For separation anxiety, don’t make a big deal when you leave or come home. A little while before you leave, give your puppy something to distract themselves when you are leaving. You shouldn’t feed them right when you get home, as this may encourage separation anxiety.
Introducing Your Puppy to Other Dogs
Other animals can be a major source of anxiety for your new puppy. If you have other dogs, or a friend brings over their own dog, you want to give them a proper introduction to your new puppy. It is best to introduce them outside of the house, and maybe even outside of your yard. Dogs are territorial, and if one dog is in anothers ‘territory’, the new dog may be perceived as threatening. Both dogs should be leashed, and whoever is leashing them should have a bag of the dog’s most prized treats.
As you bring the leashed dog’s closer to each other, closely monitor their body language. If one or both of the dogs stiffen up, stair, growl, or have hair standing up on the back of their neck, they are not enjoying the interaction. Immediately divert their attention to another activity and move the dog’s away from each other. If they seem calm and curious, reward them, and lessen the distance between the dogs. Give them treats whenever they have a positive interaction with the other dog. Every time they get more comfortable, allow a little more interaction.
If the dogs are still seeming anxious, you can keep them a safe distance from each other and go for a walk together, and then continue the ‘formal’ introduction later. Let the dogs work it out at their own pace. Any time they seem apprehensive, slow down the pace of the introduction.
Once you are very comfortable with the dogs’ behavior outside, it’s time to bring them into the house. At first, remove any toys, treats, food bowls, or anything else that could cause ‘arguments’. You may want to separate them with a gate, or leash them and keep them at a safe distance from each other again in the house to see how they respond to each other. Remember, whichever dog has been living in this home sees it as their territory, and they may be more apprehensive now that the other dog is in their home. Continue rewarding positive interactions with treats.
Once they are comfortable with close contact while on the leash, you may release them, but continue to observe their behavior very carefully. Continue rewarding good behavior, and if there are any signs of excitement or conflict, briefly separate them.
In the worst case scenario, where your new puppy and your more experienced resident dog are not getting along after a lot of good work on your part, you may want to find a trainer or animal behaviorist. These dogs will probably be spending the rest of their lives together, so it’s important that they get along.