Trainer reveals how to introduce an excitable puppy to a more timid adult dog (and it's easier than you think)

Dog and puppy greeting each other
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Who doesn’t love puppies? A puppy brings so much joy and excitement, but at the same time, they can be quite lively and intense. And, for some dogs, who might be more anxious or timid, meeting an energetic puppy can be tricky.

However, even if you don’t have a puppy at home, your dog will probably still meet puppies on occasion. You’ll probably pass a puppy or two during your walks or when you’re at the pet store looking at the best dog toys, or perhaps you’ll meet a friend or relative’s new puppy. 

So, how can you make these encounters less stressful for your dog and more positive for everyone involved? Well, certified dog trainer Melissa Goodman of Mission Pawsitive has got some advice to share.

In Goodman’s video, she’s introducing Phoebe, who’s quite timid, to Abby, who’s a very excitable puppy — and her new cousin. 

“I don’t ever recommend allowing two dogs to greet while they are both on leash,” she explains. “Leashes are restrictive and when dogs feel restricted, it can become a fight vs flight situation if one or both dogs feel uncomfortable. They also can’t get an accurate read of each other’s body language.” So, particularly with anxiety in dogs being fairly common, it’s something to avoid if possible.

Phoebe wanted to inspect Abby’s rear end, so Goodman carried Abby. She left Abby’s leash on so she couldn’t be all over Phoebe, but let Phoebe be off-leash so she could move away if Abby was getting too much. She continues, “When Phoebe started to let Abby know she was being way too much, Abby recognized her cues and had a great response of giving lots of appeasement behavior in an attempt to diffuse things and avoid conflict.”

The next step for Goodman is to teach Abby to be more neutral around Phoebe, and let Phoebe make the first move. While the dogs may never be best friends, it would be useful if they could learn to coexist peacefully because they will be in each other’s lives. 

Goodman says, “Along with many structured meetings to work on coexistence, if you take away the pressure of interacting, that’s when dogs can surprise you.” So, letting two dogs meet without any pressure, and minimal use of leashes, can be really effective, particularly when the other dog might be more timid. To give both dogs less restriction, but ensure that the puppy isn’t all over the older dog, it can be a good idea to carry them, much like Goodman does in the video.

If you have a new puppy and you want to make their socialization as successful as possible, you might find this article useful: I'm a dog behaviorist and these are my 6 tips for socializing a puppy

West Paw Toppl Dog Toy 
$23.96 from Chewy

West Paw Toppl Dog Toy
$23.96 from Chewy
A treat dispensing puzzle that can be filled with kibble, peanut butter, cheese chunks or smashed banana, this toy is ideal for giving your dog's brain a good workout. 

Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle, health, culture, and pets, and he has five years' experience in journalism. He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' Golden Retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.