When you have an older dog in the house, there’s a good chance that they’ll be set in their ways. Introducing a new puppy interrupts their routine and disrupts the family dynamic. Suddenly, your dog isn’t the only animal in the house anymore. Their guardian has a new puppy that gets treats, playtime, training sessions, and lots of attention from their favorite person.
Some dogs accept the change, especially if they’ve dealt with another dog before. However, other dogs get stressed, frustrated, or even depressed. The sudden change is overwhelming— and your dog will do just about anything to get your attention again. Even if the dog comes to accept the puppy, they might resent them for the rest of their life. You’ll have two dogs in the house who won’t play together, take walks together, or behave themselves in the house. Instead, they just fight and snarl at each other when you’re gone.
Introducing a puppy to your current dog is a slow, gradual process. But if you’re willing to take the time, you’ll find that your dog builds a positive relationship with the new puppy. They might even form a bond that lasts well into the puppy’s adult years. You won’t have to worry about leaving your dog home alone because they’ll have a friend to keep them company. You’ll also have fun with both dogs whenever you take a walk or go outside for playtime. When both dogs accept each other, you’ll have harmony in your household.
In other words, introducing the puppy to your older dog is one of the most important things you can do. Here’s how to ensure that your dogs get along for years to come.
Start with a Scent
Dogs are territorial creatures who often react negatively to new scents. If you’ve ever come home after playing with a dog at a friend’s house, you know how your dog reacts to the smell of another dog. Before you bring the puppy home, rub a piece of fabric on their fur, then give the fabric to your dog to sniff. Your dog will start to get used to the scent, making it easier to bring the puppy home.
Bring the Puppy Home in a Crate
Instead of letting the puppy loose in your house, place them in a crate and let your dog visit the puppy through the gated door. If your dog tries to attack, the crate will protect the puppy. Otherwise, this approach lets your dog get used to the puppy’s scent and behavior without having to deal with their energy. Afterward, keep the dog and puppy separate until you’re ready to introduce them again. It might take a few days for your dog to show curiosity instead of annoyance.
Introduce the Dogs in a Neutral Area
If the dogs don’t get along, you don’t want to introduce them to your house. This creates negative associations with your household. Instead, take the dogs to a neutral ground like a dog park. Watch your dogs closely, and see how they interact. If the introduction goes well, you could start introducing them in your house or backyard. Otherwise, they might need more practice before you let them interact in your household. Make sure you leash your dogs so you can separate them if needed.
Once your dogs pass the initial first introductions, they can start having positive interactions with each other. Here are a few ways your dogs could get to know each other.
Play in the Backyard
Playing together is one of the most positive interactions your dogs can have together. When you first let them loose in the backyard, observe their behavior and body language to ensure that they don’t play too roughly. Your older dog might get aggravated if the puppy overwhelms them with their energy. Don’t leave your dogs alone for the first few sessions, even if it’s time-consuming. You don’t want to go back inside and suddenly hear growling and yipping in the backyard.
As the dogs get used to each other, you can gradually reduce the supervision. Keep an eye on your dogs until you trust them to play nicely. Even then, you should still check in on your dogs periodically. Don’t just wait for one of the dogs to start barking— you might not hear them fighting outside. You may want to keep the dogs on leashes so you can separate them quickly.
On a similar note, join your dogs in play whenever possible. You’ll build positive interactions with all three of you, making it easier to have fun together in the future. Plus, playing with your dogs gives them more exercise than leaving them to their own devices. Play fetch, go swimming, take a run around the park or wrestle with your dogs until everybody’s worn out.
Go For Walks Together
Before you take both dogs on a walk, grab a friend and engage in parallel walks. Going on a walk helps your dogs relax and stretch their muscles, which might increase their chances of getting along. Take one dog on a walk, then have your friend take the other dog for a walk several feet ahead of you. Switch places periodically so your dog is in front and the other dog is several feet behind. After a while, start decreasing the length of space between them. If it goes well, your dogs can start walking side-by-side.
Once your dogs have mastered the parallel walks, you can start taking them for walks together on your own. However, you might want to bring a friend anyway so you don’t have to manage an adult dog and an energetic puppy at the same time. Make sure you keep the puppy leashed so they don’t chase after birds, squirrels, and other dogs.
Train Your Dogs Together
Getting a new pup requires extensive training, including housebreaking, socializing, and leash training. You probably trained your older dog to complete these tasks years ago. However, your older dog can take part in training games that create fun for both animals.
Take your older dog out to the backyard, then train them to perform some new tricks or refresh cues that they’ve already learned. Give your dog treats like you would normally. At the same time, let a friend train the puppy with treats and a clicker. These training games enable the dogs to occupy the same area without interacting directly. In the end, play together with both dogs to celebrate a successful training session.
Training your older dog is also a great way to give them some personal attention. When you bring home a new pet, your dog might get jealous when they see you showering this puppy with attention and affection. With training games, you can maintain a positive relationship with your dog.
Will Your Resident Dog Get Jealous of a New Puppy?
If you have an older child, they tend to get jealous when you bring home a new baby. Dogs can suffer from jealousy just like humans— and they might start acting out to get attention. Instead of assuming that your dog is misbehaving, ask yourself if they lost anything when you brought home the puppy. Did you stop giving your dog treats and affection? Did you stop taking them on daily walks? Here are some tips on preventing jealousy in your dog:
- Give your dog plenty of attention and affection. Don’t assume they don’t need it because they’re older— you’re still their best friend.
- Try not to disrupt your dog’s daily schedule. You might have to make some changes, but continue taking them on daily walks, feeding them at the same time, and spending time with them.
- Spend time alone with your dog as well as with the new pup. Your dog might get frustrated if they can’t hang out with you without interacting with the puppy as well.
- Give your dog a quiet area where they can relax by themselves. Likewise, give the puppy their own area away from your dog.
- When you introduce the new pup, take a break if your dog shows signs of stress or aggression. Don’t force them to interact with the new dog.
- Spend some time training your dog and giving them treats.
- Reward your dog whenever they make an effort to get along with the puppy. After all, the puppy isn’t the only one who needs to adjust.
- If necessary, find someone to help you with the puppy so you can spend time with your dog.
Will the Older Dog Attack the Puppy?
Some dogs get aggressive when you bring a puppy into the house. They might see the puppy as a threat or an invader in their territory. Other dogs simply get frustrated when the puppy keeps yipping, barking, and giving them playful bites. If you leave them alone in the backyard, the rough play could turn into a full-blown attack.
To reduce the risk of incidents, introduce the dog to the new puppy as gradually as possible. When your dog gets used to the puppy, they’ll be less likely to see them as a threat. They might even see the puppy as a friend instead of a challenger. Additionally, starting off with short periods keeps your dog from getting overwhelmed. If you’ve ever had a toddler in the house, you know how exhausting their constant energy can be. Older dogs feel the same way.
When your dog interacts positively with the puppy, reinforce their behavior with a treat. You’re essentially training your dog not to attack the new puppy. Incidents might still happen, but you can reduce the risk by monitoring your dogs until they learn how to get along. Never leave an older dog alone with a puppy until they get to know each other.
Once you introduce a new puppy to your adult dog, you might be surprised by how well they get along. Even older dogs can learn to accept a new pup in the household. Just be patient with your dog and remember that they’re used to being the only dog in the house. If you have two or more dogs, getting a puppy is still a major change in their routine. Your dog might get jealous when they see you training the puppy, playing outside, giving them treats, and taking them on walks. Make sure you give your older dog plenty of attention so they don’t feel like you’ve replaced them with another dog. Over time, the dog and puppy might become best friends.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you get an older dog to accept a new puppy?
Positive interactions are the key to getting a resident dog to accept a new puppy. To start, you could rub fabric on the puppy and give it to the older dog so they can get used to the scent. Gradually introduce the puppy without forcing the adult dog to interact with them. Over time, they could play together, take walks together or engage in training games. Don’t force anything to happen— your older dog might get stressed and overwhelmed if it happens too quickly.
How long does it take for an older dog to accept a puppy?
The exact time period varies. In general, it might take a few months for your older dog to fully accept the new puppy. Unless the dog accepts the puppy right away, you’ll have to start slow and gradually increase their interactions. Once they have enough positive interactions, your older dog may accept the puppy as one of the family members.
Do older dogs get jealous of new puppies?
When you bring a new dog into the house, older dogs can get jealous of the new puppy. They see you lavishing the puppy with attention and wonder why you don’t give the same attention to them. To keep your dog from developing jealous feelings, spend as much time with them as the new puppy. Don’t abandon your regular walks and playtime with the older dog— they still need love and affection.
Will an older dog hurt a puppy?
A hyper puppy could get on an older dog’s nerves. If your older dog gets frustrated, it might bite or attack the puppy. Observe your dogs’ body language when they interact with each other, and intervene if your older dog starts to get aggressive. To keep your older dog from getting stressed, give them a separate, quiet area where they can relax on their own.