How to Introduce a Puppy to Your Older Dog

Should you get a puppy if you have an older dog?

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
4-minute read
Episode #110

Your Dogalini’s middle-aged, or older. She’s not as energetic as she used to be. The idea that one day your household may be dogless makes you cringe. And maybe a puppy would liven Dogalini up. The local shelter has a litter of super-cute puppies. Should you bring one home? As usual, the answer is “It depends.” Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself before bringing home baby.

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Question #1 - Is Your Older Dog Healthy?

My old lady Izzy adored puppies, but in her arthritic last few years she really did not need one bouncing off her hips. If your older dog has a chronic health condition or has lost much of her hearing or sight, puppy energy may be too much for her. Talk to your vet if you have doubts.

Question #2 - Does Your Older Dog Enjoy Other Dogs?

If your older dog has plenty of canine friends, it’s an easy call, especially if those friends include any pups who happen to appear. If she’s not the life of the dog party but she exchanges polite greetings with most dogs and has a few friends she plays with, ditto. But plenty of dogs are indifferent to other dogs, or afraid of them, or quick to get into fights. These dogs will not magically fall for a new puppy roommate.

And in turn, they may not be so good for a puppy. Very young puppies seem to have a “license” with most adult dogs, who’ll put up with in-your-face, sometimes annoying behavior that they wouldn’t tolerate from an adolescent or grown dog. Now, even the most patient adult dog may sometimes get fed up – you can expect an occasional lip curl, growl, or snap. It’s normal. What isn’t so great for a puppy is life with an adult dog who barely tolerates him, or who routinely aggresses against him. Dogs are social animals. To live with someone hostile to them produces chronic stress, which can alter the brain permanently and have long-term negative effects on their behavior. (1)


About the Author

Jolanta Benal, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Jolanta holds professional certifications in both training and behavior counseling and belongs to the Association of Professional Dog Trainers and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. She also volunteered with Pet Help Partners, a program of the Humane Society of the United States that works to prevent pet relinquishment. Her approach is generally behaviorist (Pavlovian, Skinnerian and post-Skinnerian learning theory) with a big helping of ethology (animal behavior as observed in non-experimental settings).