New Pup and Senior Dog Woes

Got pup???!!!

Adding a pup to your family is an incredibly joyous occasion (Yay!)   Unfortunately, issues often arise that put a damper on the fun (Boo!).   Difficulties between the new pup and the existing pets in your home is one of those areas. It is especially problematic when there is an older or more sensitive dog in the home. Many adult dogs, especially seniors, are uncomfortable with puppies – and, it’s really no wonder!  Puppy play is all about body slamming and biting with those razor sharp puppy teeth. All of this can be very painful and frightening for a smaller or older dog.  

The generation gap is real! Your older dog might growl and snap at the pup.  You may notice that he often leaves the room when the puppy appears. The more subtle but equally troubling scenario is when the older dog endures the abuse. What appears to be patience can sometimes be an older dog who is afraid to escalate things with the younger and stronger puppy. If your senior dog isn’t actively engaging with the puppy, that’s your best clue that all that puppy wildness is not appreciated. You owe it to your #1 pooch to protect him from all the puppy foolishness. 

The kindest and best thing to do is to manage the dogs in a way that allows them to see each other and be relatively close, but the older dog is fully protected from the horseplay. I recommend gates, ex-pens, crates and tethering. If your existing dog is allowed up on the furniture and the puppy can’t yet get up there, that will also be a good solution (albeit a temporary one, just until the pup can jump that high).

Once the pup matures a bit and gets calmer, and the senior dog has become accustomed to having a pup around, they will likely do fine together. But, too much unrestricted access to the senior dog in the beginning can cause resentment that does not go away as the pup matures and gets calmer.

Through some thoughtful management you can help your senior dog feel better about the interloper and set them up for a future of peaceful coexistence (and maybe even friendship)!

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