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.

Sleeping Labrador Retriever puppy being passed to a young girl
English Cocker Spaniel puppy playing indoors next to a window with owner

Even once your puppy’s comfortable with you and the rest of your household, they may be nervous with other new people. Here are our top tips for ensuring introductions are comfortable for them.

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.

It’s natural for children to be excited about getting a puppy. But it’s important you prepare them for how to behave and make sure they understand they have a role in their puppy’s development, safety and happiness.

Brown Labrador Retriever puppy being introduced to children by new owner
German Pinscher puppy standing outside with two children

Even if you don’t have children in your household, it’s a good idea to introduce your puppy to other children. Otherwise, they may become anxious around them in later life. Here are some key things to remember.

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.

Pets can feel very territorial, so it’s important you introduce your new puppy to any other pets in a controlled, sensitive way. These are the important things to bear in mind.

American Cocker Spaniel puppies standing outdoors next to a tree

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.

Your puppy's first few days and weeks

Your puppy's first few days and weeks in their new home are key in building a strong relationship with your pet. Make sure your puppy settles in and establish a routine to ensure as little disruption as possible for your new arrival.

First few days and weeks
Cocker Spaniel puppy standing in black and white on a white background