My Puppy and Older Dog Are Not Getting Along
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Adopting another dog into our family requires serious consideration. Not only do we need to consider our resources and ability to provide the right level of care, we need to ensure every member of our family is going to get along. When we already have a dog in this family, we might be quick to think a new puppy is a new best friend. However, it is also possible that the dog will see this new addition as a threat to their security. When some dogs go from getting all the attention to half or less, it can cause upset.
If you your puppy and older dog are not getting along, it can be upsetting for everyone involved. Fortunately, AnimalWised explains why this can happen and what we can do to create a peaceful coexistence between a puppy and adult dog.
Why don't my puppy and adult dog get along?
One of the main reasons for a dog not getting along with another is due to jealousy. They may feel like they are not getting enough attention. When the new dog being introduced to a family is a puppy, it is common for human guardians to be excited by the cuteness and novelty. They may provide too much affection and attention to the new arrival and not enough to a dog which has previously received much more.
However, jealousy doesn't necessarily arise from nowhere. There are usually some specific reasons why a puppy and adult dog don't get along. They may include:
- Less care: while the puppy will need more attention, this should not be to the detriment of the adult dog. The latter will still need plenty of walks, regular feeding and stimulation. If they do not receive a healthy amount, they may understandably take it out on the puppy.
- Pampering: similar to the previous reason is that we may have over-pampered the dog before the puppy arrives. While we need to show dogs the right level of attention, we can do it so much that they have unrealistic expectations. This is why so many dogs suffer from separation anxiety because they expect to get attention all the time and do not know how to behave when it is taken away.
- Breed: while it is less of a consideration than many people think, breed does have an influence on a dog's character. Some are not great in social situations, but they should be able to learn how to get along.
- Poor socialization: the socialization period of dogs is so important. Without it dog does not know how to relate properly and can have behavioral problems later in life. However, they may be well socialized with people, but not dogs. As soon as the puppy comes along, the adult dog may simply not be able to relate.
- Trauma: if a dog has experienced trauma with other dogs in the past, then the new puppy may be a trigger for fearfulness and/ or aggression.
Although we may never get to the bottom of the exact reason why a puppy and adult dog are not getting along, it won't be for no reason. Happy and healthy dogs should get along fine with others.
Introducing a puppy and an adult dog
You may be concerned your puppy and adult dog won't get along, but they have not yet been introduced. Making this introduction and the transition into happy coexistence smooth is important. One of the most helpful things is to introduce them on neutral ground. An open space such as a park is not always possible. It will depend on whether or not they have had the right vaccinations to be outside.
Neutral ground is an environment whether neither considers to be their own. This is because dogs are naturally territorial animals. Neutral ground will mean the dog will not have marked the area and we are being less threatening to their security.
Ideally, there should be a second person there when you introduce a puppy to an adult dog. This second person will be able to hold back one or other of the animals if they get upset. They can then provide positive reassurance and prevent a bad situation. We should allow the dogs to naturally smell each other and relax into coexistence.
It may happen that the adult dog is indifferent to the new puppy, but it may also try to mount or even growl at them. As long as it is not followed by aggression, we may want to not interfere. The adult dog will likely be trying to assert their place in a hierarchy, but it doesn't necessarily mean they pose a threat to the puppy.
Prepare the house for cohabitation
Before the introduction, it is essential to prepare a specific area for your new puppy inside the home. Here they should have a comfortable bed, food and water dishes, toys and anything else they need to feel comfortable. It is important to not use the adult dog's toys or accessories as the puppy will make it feel like their security is being threatened.
Ideally, the two should have separate areas at the beginning. This allows the dogs to feel secure in their own space. This way, when the puppy arrives the older dog won't feel threatened in terms of territory.
The first introduction at home
If the introduction went well on neutral ground, you will need to continue this in the home. As we said, it is even better to start with the two dogs in separate areas. When you are bringing them together, the adult dog should be there first. Afterwards, bring the puppy in on a lead or in a carrier. Let them smell each other and be introduced. Only then should you let them be free to walk around.
If the adult dog is comfortable, the puppy will be able to explore and progressively, they will learn how to coexist happily. At first, limit the new puppy's space. Again, this is to stop the older dog feeling threatened. During the first few weeks, do not leave the new puppy unattended with the adult dog. Only leave them when we are sure they are comfortable and happy.
To learn more about where the puppy should stay, look at this article on where a dog should sleep on their first night.
What happens if they still don't get along?
If the new puppy and older dog don't get along after this introduction, we will need to know why. It is quite common for older dogs to not have the same energy as the puppy, nor the same drive to play. In these cases, we need to ensure the puppy isn't trying to play with them all the time.
Setting boundaries in the home is a great idea to ensure the dogs get along. It means when one dog does not want to be around the other, they are able to distance from them.
For a puppy, this will be difficult at first, but this is where training comes in. Do not scold them or shout at them for exercising their natural instincts. Instead, reward them with positive reinforcement when they leave the older dog alone. You can learn more with our article on educating your puppy, but it is important to know how important this is for their development.
Tips on helping a new puppy to get along with your older dog
If you want your new puppy and the older dog to live in harmony, we have some additional tips:
- Let the puppy greet the dog on its own initiative. Don't grab them and force them in front of the other dog's snout. This will make the puppy feel very vulnerable and this can generate tension and fear in the dog. Never force situations, let them interact with each other by themselves.
- Make sure their food and water bowls are properly separated. If your dog finishes before the other, don't let it intimidate the other pet to get its food. Also, separate their eating areas in case one dog is greedier than the other.
- Reward them, play with them, cuddle them and look after them equally. Don't let either of them feel left out.
- If you are unable to help the dogs to get along on your own, bring in a professional. An ethologist or professional dog trainer will be able to help with their experience and knowledge.
If you follow our advice your dogs will be able to live together properly and will surely be best friends forever.
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