How To Introduce A Boxer To A New Puppy

Bringing home a new puppy is exciting, but it can also be tricky when you already have an adult Boxer.

Introducing a new puppy to your Boxer should be done slowly and carefully with safe, structured interactions over several days and close supervision during early weeks in order to set the dogs up for a harmonious relationship.

In a best case scenario, the two dogs will become playmates and best friends …but it’s also possible they may not immediately get along.

Even the sweetest Boxer mightn’t necessarily take kindly to the arrival of another dog on his turf and the diversion of what has previously been his owner’s undivided attention.

It’s essential to know your existing Boxer’s temperament and how he reacts to other dogs and take this into account when planning the introductions, as first impressions will set the tone.

You’ll also want to take steps to prevent your Boxer feeling threatened or displaced by the new arrival.

Prevention and planning will increase your chances of success, rather than just throwing the dogs together and hoping they get along.

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Are Boxers Good With Puppies? Do Boxers Like Puppies?

Boxers have a reputation as a happy-go-lucky characters.

They are renowned for being good with children and good with other pets including cats.

The Boxer’s extended puppyhood and lifelong playfulness can put them on a wavelength compatible with puppies, especially Boxer puppies.

But Boxers are also protective and it is natural instinct for any dog to defend his territory.

The Boxer dog temperament does contain within it a capacity for aggression given its ancestors were hunting and fighting dogs as well as being used as police and guard dogs.

Dog trainer Laurie Lock raises puppies for a service dog organization and has introduced 15 puppies to her three dogs over 12 years.

She says none of her dogs has ever welcomed a new puppy right away with total delight.

So, don’t be surprised if your Boxer doesn’t roll out the welcome mat for the interloper.

This may take time.

See also: Are Boxer Dogs Dangerous?

A lot will depend on your individual Boxer and what he is used to.

You can set your adult Boxer and your new puppy up for success by planning the first meeting carefully.

You’ll also need to closely monitor interactions for several weeks until you are confident your Boxer can be trusted around the puppy.

Factors That May Influence Whether Your Boxer Likes Your New Puppy

When preparing to bring home a puppy, it’s vital to know your existing Boxer well.

Do an honest appraisal of whether there’s anything about him that may throw up challenges.

Consider your Boxer’s:

  • Socialization, previous experiences and known behavior around other dogs
  • Foibles, hang ups, triggers or pet hates
  • Gender — Opposite sex introductions are likely to be more harmonious
  • Health status — A dog that doesn’t feel well, has an injury or is otherwise in pain will feel more vulnerable, more irritable and may be prone to lashing out
  • Age — Is your Boxer a senior? Dogs over five are likely to be less tolerant of puppy antics
  • Potential blindspots e.g. if your Boxer is untested with puppies, or with other dogs in general, it’s important to acknowledge this unknown and remind yourself that your Boxer’s reaction cannot be relied upon. Even how a dog behaves with other dogs in public isn’t always an accurate predictor or how he will react to having another dog inside his yard and home

See it from your dog’s perspective.

Particularly your Boxer is not used to spending time with other dogs, this may be a bigger change for them than you anticipate.

In your favor is the fact that the new dog is a puppy.

Boxers do tend to be very good with small dogs and will feel less threatened by a puppy than a large adult dog of a breed equal in size or bigger than themselves.

But this also means the new dog won’t have perfect canine manners.

She will have just left mother, her littermates and everything she’s ever known.

The pup might be a little overwhelmed, even scared at times.

For sure she will still be developing her communication skills.

If she’s stayed with her mother and littermates for at least eight and ideally 10 weeks, she will have learned bite inhibition, but she’s still likely to annoy your adult Boxer from time to time.

A puppy’s inexperience in navigating canine dynamics can collide with your older dog’s foibles.

Sometimes mistakes made with your Boxer’s socialization mightn’t be an issue in a single dog household but rear their head when he suddenly has to get along with another dog.

Have realistic expectations.

The two doggos may not be best buds straight off the bat.

But they do need to learn to peacefully coexist.

How Do You Introduce A Puppy To A Boxer?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to successfully integrating a puppy into a Boxer household, without displacing said wigglebutt.

The stock advice dispensed online mightn’t apply perfectly to Boxers.

You’ll want to pick and choose strategies to suit your dog.

Some instructions mightn’t be practical in your situation, but you can apply the principle and come up with something that works.

Here are a 10 things to consider:

  1. Where will the first meeting take place?
  2. Will one or both dogs be on or off leash?
  3. Who will be present?
  4. What time of day will the meeting occur?
  5. How long will the dogs spend together?
  6. What will you do during the meeting?
  7. What behavior do you want from your Boxer during the meeting? How will you encourage and reward it?
  8. How will you prevent overexcitement?
  9. How will you respond if there’s aggression or conflict?
  10. What will be the strategy for subsequent interactions between the dogs?

Let’s address these one by one.

1. Where To Introduce Your Boxer To Your New Puppy

All the advice is it’s best to arrange things so the first meeting between your new pup and your existing Boxer happens on neutral territory.

This may not always be practical.

At the very least, avoid having the introduction unfold in the living room.

Outside is preferable to inside, where your adult Boxer is likely to feel more territorial.

If a park or a tennis court isn’t an option, you could use a fenced open field or something similar.

The point is, not somewhere your Boxer knows well and feels a strong claim to and not somewhere that’s tight and cluttered, which will increase tension whereas an area of open space will promote a more relaxed feeling.

2. On Or Off Leash Meeting?

Opinions differ on whether dogs should be on or off leash when they first meet.

It’s good to have a way of controlling your Boxer in case he gets unexpectedly aggressive.

However, leash restraint can itself predispose a dog to aggressive behavior.

Leashes held by humans interfere with normal canine social signals.

Being on leash may cause one or both dogs to send tension signals they don’t intend.

One alternative is to have the dogs meet through a fence.

This way both dogs can be off leash.

The barrier of the fence gives them the chance to sniff each other and time for the novelty to wear off a little before they come into full contact.

Another approach is to have the dogs leashed for the first moments, but not hold the leashes, instead letting them drag.

You can remove the leashes entirely once you see how they’re interacting.

3. Who Is Present

The usual advice is to have a friend or someone your dog knows well present to help with the first meeting.

This way you have one person to manage each dog, which is certainly useful.

But if you live alone and the presence of someone else will ratchet up your dog’s excitement level, it may be counterproductive.

4. The Time Of Day

Time the first meeting for after your Boxer has been exercised earlier in the day and had the chance to release some of his energy.

You want him as relaxed as possible.

A Boxer that’s a little tired is always likely to behave better than one full of pent-up frustration.

5. Duration Of First Meeting

It’s critical to keep the first meeting brief, even as short as 10 or 15 minutes.

It’s tempting to disregard this — you’ve just brought a new pup home and you want to spend all your time together.

But it’s important to go slow.

A shorter meeting will increase the chances of the interaction staying in wholly positive territory, which is the goal.

First impressions are very important.

You want all your Boxer’s associations with the new pup to be positive.

End of a high note, rather than going on so long that excitement levels build and the dogs whip themselves into a frenzy.

You can have a second meeting after a break, but it’s important to have that chance to regroup.

So, quit while you’re ahead with the first meet and greet — it will set you up for success in subsequent sessions.

6. What To Do

Rather than sitting stationary in one spot, it’s beneficial to walk a little.

Movement defuses tension and gives the dogs something to focus on besides each other.

Let the dogs establish their rapport with as little interference as possible.

Your role is to monitor and head off problems and set the tone.

The dogs will feed off your energy — if you’re feeling wary or fearful it can tweak the interaction in an unhelpful direction, so make sure you’re giving off a relaxed, happy vibe.

If you have decided to keep the dogs on leash, a good option is to go for a short stroll together.

Parallel walking allows the dogs to share space and smell and see each other without direct interaction.

If you’ve enlisted the help of a friend, have the dogs on the outside, buffered by the humans on inside.

Walk level with each other or allow one to go ahead first and then the other — this allows the dogs to scent each other from a distance without meeting face to face.

There ought be no taut leashes or stationary humans.

If the dogs are arcing up, increase the pace to make the walk more brisk.

Keep it moving.

7. What Behavior Do You Want From Your Boxer?

Get clear in your own mind beforehand how you want the meeting to play out.

What specific behaviors do you want to see from your Boxer?

You will want to praise or click and reward (if you’re using clicker training) whenever you see:

  • Calm, relaxed, friendly behavior
  • Nose-to-tail sniffing (This is proper canine greeting etiquette. Head on or nose-to-nose is more confrontational.)
  • Urinating
  • Ignoring the other dog
  • Paying attention to the human/s

Behaviors you will want to discourage and interrupt include:

  • Long stares
  • Tense body
  • Lip curl / quivering lip
  • Snarling
  • Stalking
  • Lunging
  • Barking
  • Bullying behavior

Boxers do have a way of standing over, leaning on and lying on top of other dogs in play — so do factor in the Boxer style when interpreting behavior.

There’s not much you can do about the full-on interpersonal style, but as long as it’s non-aggressive, all good.

8. Preventing Overexcitement

Be mindful of your adult Boxer’s level of arousal.

Call each dog away every so often to head off any escalating tension, ratchet the intensity down a notch and prevent the dogs becoming too excited.

Wagging tails, play bows and wanting to play are all positive signs.

However, only allow play for a few minutes in the first meeting.

Excitement can quickly escalate to a level of arousal where aggression is more likely.

It’s normal (and good) for the new pup to roll over on her back and lick the mouth of your Boxer — it’s a show of appropriate submission and will help create a harmonious relationship between the dogs.

9. Responding To Aggression

You will want to interrupt any hint of dominant or aggressive behavior and increase the distance between the dogs.

Rather than punish or rouse at your Boxer, which will introduce a negative tone to the experience, try to redirect.

Watch the body language and honor what both dogs need.

Yawning can be subtle sign one or other dog is feeling uncomfortable.

Don’t give things a chance to escalate.

Prevention is the key.

If one dog begins to look tense, immediately distance.

If the dogs want to fight, it’s key that you interrupt it quickly and calmly and don’t yell.

If things are not going smoothly, take a break and regroup.

You can try again later.

10. Strategy For Subsequent Interactions Between Your Boxer And Your New Pup

The job is not done after the first meeting.

Integrating your new pup into your Boxer’s home and life will be a process.

Even if the first meet and greet has gone well, issues can arise once the pup encroaches onto your Boxer’s territory, which he may feel the need to defend.

Depending on how the initial meeting went, you may do a few more structured sessions on neutral/unfamiliar ground before allowing the dogs to spend unstructured time together in the home.

Never force the dogs together.

Continue to play a low key role, letting the dogs find their own rhythm.

As long as you, as the owner, provide strong leadership, the hierarchy of the rest of the “pack” should fall into place.

The most challenging aspect can be knowing when to step in and when to stand back.

You may intervene to run interference for your adult Boxer if the pup is becoming a little much or to protect the pup by guiding appropriate behavior while she learns social skills.

Ensure regular quiet time and separation during the day to give both, but especially your older Boxer, a break.

Know the difference between aggression and correction on the part of your adult Boxer.

It can be hard for our human eyes to decipher, but growling and grumbling can be part of the older dog teaching the young pup she’s crossed the line, as long as it’s restrained.

The goal should be to build positive associations with the new puppy in your dog’s mind.

Constantly punishing or rousing at your dog undermines this by injecting stress into the situation and sapping the fun from it.

It’s vital during this period (and going forward) to spend time with each dog separately — you want the primary bond to be with you and not each other.

How To Manage A Two-Dog Household

You’ll want to plan not just the initial meeting and first few interactions but how you will manage a two-dog household in the weeks and months ahead.

Knowing what the eventual routine will look like will give you something to chart a course towards.

According to dog trainer Cesar Milan and others, dogs in the same pack fight for one reason only: because they don’t have a strong leader.

It’s your job to establish and enforce boundaries and rules.

Both dogs must know clearly the limits of acceptable behavior.

In the early weeks, avoid situations of potential conflict.

Feed the dogs separately and always attend to your adult Boxer first to show him his status not at threat.

(He should also enter house before the new pup.)

Let the dogs get to know each other properly before expecting them to share toys or other “resources”.

Don’t confine the two dogs together in small spaces until they’re fully comfortable and accepting of each other.

Avoid overstimulating either dog during this phase.

For instance, your arrival home from work, with both dogs jumping around in a narrow hall or doorway is a potential flash point.

Don’t let the situation arise.

Never leave the dogs together unsupervised until their bond is well established.

Boxers and other dogs can get along great, or there can be bumps in the road.

Keeping two Boxers constitutes a special challenge and delight.

Remember, the arrival of a new dog represents a major life change and potential stressor for your Boxer.

It’s a big adjustment.

Avoid exposing your Boxer to other stresses during this period and pay attention to how he’s coping.

Stress due to a change in routine or home life can manifest as:

  • Disturbed appetite
  • Behavioral changes
  • Changed bowel or bladder habits

It’s also easier to get sick when under stress.

Common Mistakes When Introducing A Boxer To A New Puppy

It’s easy to inadvertently hinder the developing rapport between two dogs.

Mistakes includie:

  • Letting the first meeting go on too long
  • Introducing the dogs in the living room
  • Expecting the dogs to naturally get along — they may or they may not
  • Holding the puppy in your arms or picking her up
  • Pulling your Boxer’s leash taut during the interaction
  • Having toys or bones or other chews around the dogs — Resource guarding can kick in
  • Overexcitement in close proximity to owner
  • Having the dog enclosed in confined spaces e.g. owner arriving home and everyone crowded in doorway or hall
  • Paying too much attention to the new puppy
  • Dramatically changing the daily routine when the puppy arrives
  • Immediately allowing the new dog the same privileges as the old dog e.g. on furniture etc
  • Overreacting or segregating the dogs because they had a snarky moment
  • Creating tension by being nervous yourself or punishing the dogs by yelling or harsh corrections

Useful Equipment When Introducing A Puppy To A Boxer

Gear that can help ease the transition from single to multi-dog household includes:

  • Wifi camera — Invaluable for monitoring your dogs’ interactions
  • Baby gates
  • X pens
  • Crates
  • Clicker
  • Treat pouch

Crates, baby gates and x-pens can help give the dogs experience being in proximity without direct interaction.

Of course you will also need all the essential provisions for a new Boxer puppy.

How Long Does It Take For An Older Boxer To Accept A New Puppy?

Don’t expect the dogs to get along right away.

Integrating a new dog into the pack is a process and they will get used to each other with time and your guidance.

For the first two weeks your dogs will require close supervision.

Maybe after three weeks, a natural harmony will start to develop.

Is My Adult Boxer Jealous Of The New Puppy?

Try to maintain your routine with your first dog so your Boxer doesn’t feel he’s lost your attention on account of the new pup.

Make sure your Boxer still gets plenty of love and attention — even spend more time than usual with your existing dog during this acclimation process.

A Boxer that feels safe and secure is much more likely to feel positively predisposed towards the interloper.

Reassure him he remains the center of your world.

Otherwise, you may see issues erupt in other ways.

A discombobulated Boxer may become suddenly difficult, with the emergence of new behaviors we might view as “acting out” if it happened in a human child.

What If Your Boxer Doesn’t Get Along With Your New Puppy?

You may need to overcome reactivity and defensiveness on the way to becoming one big happy family.

It might happen organically but you might need to go through a process of conditioning your existing dog to accept the new one.

Dog trainer Susan Garrett describes a sliding scale of hate—aggravate—tolerate—acknowledge—adore which you can move your dog along.

Persist, but also know when to pull the pin.

Some Boxer owners have had to resort to permanently separating their dogs with baby gates and designated zones of the house and yard for each dog, which is far from ideal.

If you find yourself unable to successfully integrate your new dog, it’s time to see professional input.

If this fails, the ultimate solution is rehoming the new dog — which is heartbreaking but better than exposing both dogs to a life of constant tension and the danger of dog fights.

Conclusion

It’s easy in the excitement of a new puppy to forget your responsibility to your existing Boxer.

The introduction of a new puppy into your Boxer’s domain can be a big adjustment when he’s been happily ensconced an only dog all his life.

Things are likely to go much more smoothly if you prioritize his needs throughout the process.

Take things slow, spend quality time with your Boxer away from the pup and chances are your Boxer and the new addition will end up getting along just fine.

References

Dunbar, Ian, Mailbag #19 — Introducing a New Dog to Your Existing Pack, Dunbar Academy, 2020

Garrett, Susan, Episode 72: Preventing Dog Aggression, Introducing Dogs Or Puppies with Project Togetherness, Dogs That, 2021

Ginman, Louise, The Art of Introducing Dogs: A Guide for Conducting Dog-To-Dog Introductions, Balboa Press, 2013

McConnell, Patricia, Introducing A New Dog: Maggie and Willie as a Case Study, The Other End of the Leash,

Milan, Cesar, Hot To Help Dogs Get Along, Cesar’s Way, 2019

Miller, Pat, Tips on Adding a Dog to Your Household, Whole Dog Journal, 2019

Luck, Laurie, Karen Pryor Clicker Training, What To Expect: Introducing a Puppy to Your Adult Dogs, 2013

Wigglin Home Boxer Rescue, Introducing Your New Dog To Your Dog, Retrieved from website November 2021