Many dog owners treat their dog like one of their children. They care, feed, and play with them. So it can be difficult for an old dog when a new dog is thrown into the mix. Dogs do have feelings as well, and can become depressed or even jealous of a new dog. But this isn’t just developed from natural feelings; it can also be created by the things we do and the habits we create during our association with our beloved friends.
Meeting for the first time
The first and most important thing to remember is that your dogs should meet in a neutral zone. Dogs are instinctively very territorial and may feel threatened by a newcomer in the house. After your puppy has received his vaccination shots (this is very important for the safety of your new puppy), take them both to a place, such as a park or an area where your older dog will not feel as though he has to protect his home from an invader. Here, allow them both to associate with one another, and your old dog’s natural playfulness will help him bond with the new dog.
Although most dogs will likely get along well (especially when it’s an older dog and a younger puppy), there are times when they won’t get along. Be sure to prevent any aggression that may take place, such as growling, snapping, or even biting.
Signs of Doggy Depression
Once they’re home, things will change for your older dog. Young puppies will naturally want to play and interact with their new friend. This isn’t always true for an older pup, especially after the age of five, when they’ve begun to settle down and have gained a little bit of dog wisdom. If your dog has been an “only dog” for his entire life, he may show signs of irritation or frustration with a younger, hyper-active puppy that bounds around them. This characteristic can be hard to deal with, sometimes resulting in the older dog growling a firm “no” to the younger one.
Signs of aggression aren’t the only problem, however. Often, older dogs may develop depression because of the newcomer. Older dogs may feel left out or forgotten, especially with all the excitement that accompanies a new puppy. House training takes a lot of focus away from your old dog, and he is very aware of this. He may even be scared or intimidated by it. Your older dog may change eating habits, or even refrain from activities that he used to enjoy.
One thing you can do to help prevent depression is to encourage both dogs to interact with each other. When you teach the younger dog tricks, don’t remove your older dog from the activities. In fact, use this as a time to reinforce his skills. When you play with the new dog, be sure that your older dog is involved, or at least allowed to be involved. Make the activity a competition, and we all know that dogs do love competition (especially when they are feeling jealous of the new member).
Another thing to remember is that you should never seclude or take space away from your older dog. This can be taken as a threat or even represent a dismissal to them, creating resentment and depression in the older dog. Allow them both to share the same spaces, but there should be a limit to what can and can’t be shared. Dogs develop habits, and sleeping in their spot is one of them. Be sure that your new dog has a designated place to grab some Z’s where it won’t interfere with your older dog’s sleep cycle. (In particular, this means that if your older dog doesn’t sleep in your bed, neither should the younger puppy.)
When covering the qualities of sharing, be sure to feed them together, but with separate bowls. Don’t expect both dogs to instinctively eat from the same spot, as older dogs may see this as a sign of aggression from the younger pup. You may start by feeding them in separate rooms at the same time to make sure that neither one of them gets into the other one’s food.
Adding a new puppy to your home will affect how your older dog interacts with you and the rest of the family. Although they will eventually get along, things will never be the same. Dogs do change lives, and always for the better. Perhaps the best part of adding a new puppy to your home is that your older dog will now have someone to be with when you aren’t around. Once they get used to each other, they may even become the best of friends.