Building Lasting Friendships: Introducing a New Puppy to the Pack
Introducing a new puppy to an existing pack can be a complex and sometimes challenging process. Ruffwear ambassador, Siobhan Seller, shares her personal experience when introducing puppy Lunar to her dog Roshe, which didn’t unfold like a fairytale at first. Siobhan takes us through the ups and downs, highlighting the hurdles they faced and the heartwarming moments that made it all worthwhile.
We’ve all seen the fairytale stories of immediate friendships and puppy love at first sight when introducing a new pup to the pack. But what happens when your current dog isn’t the biggest social butterfly, and isn’t one bit happy about having to now share everything with an overexcited bundle of puppy teeth? Is it a disaster destined for failure? Not at all. But it’s very likely going to take a little bit more work.
That was very much our situation when we brought Lunar home to meet Roshe. We were more than aware that would likely be the case, so thankfully it wasn’t a massive shock to the system, but it made the first few months a little more tricky for sure.
Roshe is a fairly sociable boy, but not exactly a social butterfly - he likes his pals, but he likes his own space too, and he isn’t exactly the biggest fan of puppies. So we knew it would be a tricky first few months getting them used to each other, and I think these are definitely important things to consider when taking home a new puppy. Just how much does your dog enjoy the company of other dogs - is it going to be an immediate friendship? Is it going to be something that takes just a bit of work? Or is it going to upset your current dog a little too much?
We were very lucky in that our next puppy was coming from a close friend of mine, and Roshe was going to have plenty of opportunities to meet her before she came home. These visits boded well for us. Roshe would go in, tail wagging, super intrigued about these tiny, squeaky, bundles of fur. But as the puppies grew, so did Roshe’s wary-ness of them. Suddenly they could follow him a bit faster, and his big floofy tail made for the most interesting puppy toy.
By the time Lunar came home, we were hopeful that the few visits he had to see the puppies, might have helped make Lunar a bit more familiar to him, but I think he was definitely horrified that one had managed to follow him back to his home.
The first few weeks saw Roshe totally avoiding spending any time at all in the same room as Lunar. If she was out of her crate, he’d beeline for the door and head off for some peace elsewhere in the house. But that was fine by us, although I did wish he would have been comfier to spend a little more time with her initially, I knew he’d come around if he was just given the space he needed.
Puppies need a lot of rest as we all know, so we made sure Roshe got all the attention he needed while Lunar was safely snoozing away in her crate. We also borrowed a puppy pen which was great to give them both their own space out in the garden too.
As the weeks passed, and Roshe (who is usually my shadow) clearly got a bit fed up with huffing and spending a lot of time in a different room from everyone, he started to spend a bit more time in the same room as Lunar…from the safety of the couch. Somewhere little puppy legs couldn’t quite manage to get up onto just yet.
It took a lot of management on our part, to make sure there was lots of positive moments between them - no sharp puppy teeth biting floofy spaniel ears or tail! Roshe is a bit of a quiet boy, and it was clear he wasn’t going to do much telling off in communication with Lunar, so that’s where we had to step in, to distract Lunar if she was getting a bit wild and bitey, or pop her in the crate for a snooze if she was a bit over tired.
We had Lunar’s first camping trip booked for about 5 weeks after she came home - so we were still in the depths of the dogs getting to know each other at this point. But we were heading away with Lunar’s breeder, both parent dogs and a sibling too - so I was hopeful she’d get a chance to have all the puppy plays she really wanted, and also have her parents remind her what was polite and not so polite behaviour as a puppy.
It clearly did a world of good, because a few days into our trip, after having a bit of a play with Lunar’s sister, Roshe took it upon himself to start playing with Lunar too! It’s a moment that will likely be etched in my memory forever, for being such a lovely and heart happy moment, and also because it was a reminder I needed that this was going to work out.
We’re now 10 months in with having Lunar home, and I can say for sure that Roshe is happy (most days) to have a new little sister. While he’s not an every day player, in those moments of utter happiness, he seeks out Lunar to run with now, and it is such a heart warming thing to see for my wee awkward boy. I can see that they enjoy each others company, now that Lunar has learnt what behaviours Roshe does and doesn’t appreciate, she’s much softer with him, and gives him his space when he needs it. It has just been so amazing to watch their friendship take off.
Looking back, there’s not a huge amount I would change, I’d like to hope that we did things in a way that meant both dogs got what they needed from us, and their relationship was allowed to blossom in their own time.
For those who would like to add a new puppy to the pack, I’d definitely recommend people to seriously consider how their dog might handle a new puppy coming home. Perhaps try and meet a friends’ puppy first if you have the chance, or just pay attention to how your dog feels around other dogs. It’s definitely a big adjustment, and it’s still possible it will all work out okay even if they’re not immediately besties, if you’re happy to put in the extra work.
For us, Lunar has slotted in perfectly, she has brought so much hilarity to our lives, has given Roshe a boost of that puppy energy again, and she makes the perfect adventure buddy for all of us.
I will be forever glad that she became a part of our family.
Living in the Scottish Highlands, Siobhan has the most incredible adventures right from her doorstep. Exploring Scotland is a passion of Siobhan’s, whether it’s camping, in a van, SUP or hiking, Roshe & puppy Lunar are by her side. Follow their adventures on Instagram: @roamingwithroshe