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

Question # 5 – What Are Your Older Dog’s Signals That She Needs a Break?

Make sure your older dog gets a break from the puppy when she needs one. Although the occasional lip curl or snap may be normal, better things shouldn’t get that far. If Dogalini’s looking away from the pup, licking her lips, or moving to another part of the room, she’s signaling that she needs some time away. Give Puppalini a toilet break and then put him down for a nap in his crate or pen so there’s a physical barrier between him and Dogalini.

This is a kindness to Dogalini, and it’s also behaviorally wise. Some exceptionally persistent puppies won’t leave an older dog alone, and ignore her look-aways and lip-licks. It’s not the end of the world if the older dog blows her stack a couple of times and the puppy winds up on his back screaming but unhurt. But I never like to see dogs or puppies of any age repeatedly practicing either end of an aggressive display. It’s just not a social habit you want to develop. On the other hand, if your Dogalini is super-patient, the lesson for the puppy is that other dogs’ “Please stop now” signals can be ignored. In human terms, he’s learning to act like a bully.

Bottom Line - Puppies and Older Dogs Can Thrive Together

With a little management—okay, a lot of management, because, hey, puppy—a sweet young thing and a sweet old thing can thrive together. Just bear in mind that you, the brainy human, need to play emcee.

Have you had success in bringing a puppy into the home of an older dog? Tell us about it in Comments. As always, send comments and questions to dogtrainer@quickanddirtytips.com. And you can talk to me on Facebook, where, amazingly enough, I’m The Dog Trainer. Dogalini is me on Twitter. Thanks for reading, and have a great week.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock


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).