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Should I Get Another Dog for My Senior Dog?

I’m a big believer in having dogs in pairs. They keep each other company and often seem to be happier.

But what if you have an older dog? Should you get another dog for your senior dog? To be honest, it all depends on your present dog and several conditions all must be factored in to make a good judgment.

Questions to Consider Before Bringing Home a New Dog

1.   How old is your dog?

Senior Golden Retriever with gray face in grass

If your dog is up in his years, he might not enjoy the company of a pesky, little pup which might cause your dog a lot of stress. If you really want to get a companion for an older dog, you need to settle on a calm one, of which a puppy never is. But an older dog, might be okay. But it will depends on your dog’s personality. 

2.   Does your dog enjoy the company of other dogs?

group of dogs in grassy field with blue skies and mountains in the background

If so, then you got a winner and having another friend will make your dogs life that much better. If you follow the rules which are simple. Always treat your dog as if nothing has happened and he/she is the most important dog in the house. When feeding or giving treats, it might be a good idea to make sure, he/she gets theirs first, before the new dog does. If not, you might find your dog becoming aggressive towards the new one or becoming distant from you, and then you really have troubles. 

3.   Does your dog display anger or aggressive towards other dogs?

two small dogs snarling at each other

This is a huge red flag for the most part. Does he bark angrily at other dogs? Show his teeth? If so, then you are either going to have to have your dog trained or your dogs will need to be constantly separated.

4.   Does your dog like to share?

2 small dogs side by side both carrying the same Frisbee in their mouths

If so, then that’s a really good sign. As a test, I recommend inviting a dog into the house to see how your dog reacts to another one entering his space. Dogs are territorial, so his mood may change which will tell you if it is a good idea or not.

5.   Does your dog seem bored at home?

black lab laying down on floor looking bored.

Well, a new little friend might change that. Having someone to play with while you are away can be good for him. Try introducing him to a new little friend at home. Once again, his reaction may show you everything you need to know. It especially can be telling if it’s a dog he is familiar with.

6.   Does your dog still have a lot of energy? 

Cocker Spaniel running through wheat field

Actually, that question maybe should have ended with, “and you don’t?” Well, a new little friend may be just what he needs.

7.   Are you replacing a dog that has passed?

Yellow Lab looking through rain covered window

This one is a bit tricky. I highly recommend you try it on a trial basis with a dog he/she knows already.

What to do if You Do Bring in a New Dog

As you can see there are several aspects that must be considered, so if you still feel that you want to bring in a pup, let’s talk about setting you up for success.

How can I get my dog to accept the pup?

2 dogs on snow covered road. One is sitting and the other on hind legs hugging the sitting dog.

1.   Vetinfo recommends you introduce your new pup to your dog a few times before you bring the pup home. Choosing a neutral location and third party to hold the pup as you introduce him to your dog, might ease the process. So, give that a try if you can.

2.   Once you introduce the pup to your home make sure that your older dog knows that HE is always first in your book and you can do so by, always….

  • Greeting your older dog first when you come home.
  • Petting your older dog first.
  • Feeding your older dog first.
  • Giving your dog treats first.
  • Even clipping your older dog’s nails first. 

As you can see there is consistency here. Your older dog always comes FIRST. Now, I know you think that sometimes it might not be fair, but remember this… dogs don’t have the same feelings on the subject as we do. They do not think it terms of right and wrong. This is called a pecking order, and the pup has to be last on that list as far as your dog is concerned. If you do that, it should be easier.

During training, it may be a good idea to crate the pup and give your older dog, free range of the house. It can be hard for an older dog to deal with such an unruly  pup and a break might do it good.

The Honest Kitchen recommends not getting a pup that will get bigger than your older dog. Since puppies are filled with energy, it could be very bad for your older dog to be bullied around by a much bigger dog that doesn’t know the rules.

Another great idea is to provide your older dog with treats when the pup is around. It will keep his focus on you and not the pup and it may instill a healthy attitude in the older dog towards the pup if the older dog thinks that the presence of the pup will get him something tasty.  

What Can I Expect from an Older Dog and Puppy Interaction?

Golden retriever looking at puppy climbing stairs

Well, the first thing you should expect is what your dog expects from you. Most likely you raised them from a pup and they has had all of your attention, but now you come home with a rambunctious little pup and have to house train it. That means you are going to be spending a considerable amount of attention with that pup and less with your older dog.

Many dog owners have seen their dogs become quite jealous simply because they are territorial animals, and you are their territory. If you are going to bring a new pup into the house, that you will have to train, make sure you spend more time than usual with your dog to compensate.

Your dog may break well-established rules just to get your attention during the breaking in phase of having a new pup. Do not be too harsh in scolding. They’re just looking for attention and fi you come down on them too hard, you will just make the process that much more painful for them and may do permanent damage to the relationship between the dogs.

Most older dogs don’t have the energy nor the lack of décor that pups posses. Your dog might growl, snap or nip at the pup which is their way of teaching them what is acceptable. Do not scold your dog for the following reasons;

  • The pup is jumping on them and will not leave them alone.
  • The pup is eating their food.
  • The pup is taking over their beds.
  • The pup is chewing on their toys.
  • The pup just will not leave them alone.

During these times it is important for you to correct the pup’s behavior and not your older dogs. If you scold your older dog it may resent the pup, become even more hostile towards it, and the end result may mean permanent hostility towards the pup, your dog withdrawing and, or eventually one of your dogs getting seriously injured.

A word to the wise…. Do not leave the pup alone with the older dog. It is better to either crate the pup or place them in separate rooms. Playing can get rough and without supervision by you, something could happen to the much weaker pup at the jaws of the more experienced and dangerous older dog.

Do NOT expect your older dog to share his toys, chew toy bed, bowl or anything with the unruly pup. Get the pup their own and watch carefully that the pup doesn’t take what doesn’t belong to them, as pups are famous for doing.

Help! My Older Dog is Depressed With the New Puppy

Depressed beagle sitting on black surface with black and gray background.

Naturally, this has a chance of happening. There are many well documented cases of older dogs falling into depression after bringing in a new pup, but there are things that can be done.

  1. Distance. It may be time to separate them and reacquaint the two slowly as the pup learns the rules. Therefore, crating your pup for longer periods of time might be a great idea to remedy the situation.
  2. Remember to always greet your older dog first. Give them everything first. Let them know they are first in your heart.
  3. Spend more time with the older dog, with the younger dog either crated or in another room.
  4. Take a walk with your older dog. Just the two of you, like before.
  5. Make sure he has his own space to chill out from the pup.

These may reestablish the pecking order in your older dog’s mind about being the boss of the house in the canine world and give him a much needed break.

Help! My Puppy Keeps Biting My Older Dog

puppy biting dog's leg

This is a very common occurrence. For the pup, this is play time and a part of how dog’s communicate with each other. For the older dog, it may seem like harassment, the important thing is to watch their interactions.

  1. Does the older dog growl or show his teeth? This is a warning for the pup to back off and hopefully that will be enough and the pup will learn to knock it off.
  2. Does the biting stop or is it constant? Dogs do play this way but it can become serious, so it is something that should be monitored. Cuteness says that any yelping, aversion tactics, lying down or hiding behind you may mean the play has gone too far for his comfort, so it might be a good idea to scold the pup, never the older dog.
  3. Your older dog may get angry, wrinkle his nose, show his teeth and emit a growl that builds in intensity. In this case, it might be a very good idea to crate the pup or separate them, Things are about to get serious.

Help! My Older Dog is Biting the Puppies Neck.

large dog with puppy by the scruff of neck

Although biting is a regular occurrence in the dog world and used for communication, an older dog biting the neck of a younger dog can happen for two reasons.

  • Your older dog is jealous of the pup.
  • Your older dog fears the younger dog is a threat to him.
  • The pecking order of the canine world might not have been followed and he does not like it.

Whichever the case, I would recommend the following.

  1. The dogs need to be separated and the relationship reestablished which is going to take a lot of time and effort on your part.
  2. According to PetMD, the older dog needs to be pampered so that he feels more at home than ever.
  3. Read what I have wrote above to rectify the situation, but remember the keywords here are; older-dogs-always-first.

My Puppy and Older Dog are Sleeping Together – Is That Good?

2 dogs laying down together with one resting its head on the others neck

You bet it is. There can not be a better scenario than that. It means they are getting along. Job well done.

In closing, I want to reiterate one more time and important theme I tried to make here just in case you missed it.

  • Your older dog always has to be first.
  • Your older dog has to be pampered.
  • Your older dog is not to be scolded, but encouraged.

If you can follow those guidelines the process of bringing in a new pup, it may work out for you and your older dog really well.

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