Adding a puppy to the household can be fun and liven a home, but don’t assume an older dog is pining away for company.
Dogs are highly social creatures and, like most humans, enjoy the companionship gained by having another dog in the house. In most cases, isolated pets are less happy, even in cases where a family member is often home during the day. Adding a second dog can make the first dog more joyful and active. Still caring for two pets is undoubtedly more work than caring for one and puppies and senior dogs have very different needs.
Adding a puppy to the household can be fun and liven a home, but don’t assume an older dog is pining away for company. Give careful consideration to the pet’s personality type and whether or not they tend to like other dogs. If they are not dog-friendly, they may become even less so with the addition of a yapping puppy in their home turf.
In multi-pet households, canine buddies groom each other, play together, and tire themselves out without demanding attention from their owners. Older dogs can guide puppies by demonstrating the rules of the house, which often reduces the amount of time it takes to train a puppy. The older dog may become more active and as such, lose excess weight and deter the onset of arthritis and other health issues common to older pets.
Before bringing home a puppy, consider whether your older pet is ready for endless energy. If you have a small older dog, a lively Labrador pup might be too much. The more senior pet may respond by hiding, and that’s not how a family member should live out remaining days.
Introducing a puppy that will grow to a similar size as your older dog will likely provide better results. Breed types, too, are a factor. Some breeds are more lackadaisical and others more active. Australian shepherds and even mini Australian Shepherds, as an example, are highly active, whereas bulldogs are most likely to be found on a cushion soaking up a sunbeam and snoring.
Many experts suggest that dogs of the opposite sex are more compatible, but that idea has 11been challenged recently by those who say same-sex and others that say it doesn’t matter. Dogs are like people and have distinct opinions about what they like and what they do not. Despite best efforts, the older dog may not like the addition of a puppy, no matter its sex.
When first introducing the pair, exercise care and take it slowly. Don’t assume the current head of the household will welcome the newcomer with open paws. It’s a bit like bringing a human baby into the home; not all older siblings are keen on the idea.
Give the puppy a separate bed, eating bowls, and toys. The senior pet is likely to feel protective of its possessions and may object to being forced to share. If you are open to using a crate, have one ready for when the youngster first joins the household. Crate training means the puppy will have a place to play without bothering the older dog.
Before considering the idea of adding a puppy, take your senior dog to the vet for a check-up or speak to an online vet if you’re unable to leave the house. Talk the vet about the advisability of adding a puppy to the household considering his or her assessment. Dogs suffering from aging ailments such as arthritis, diabetes, obesity, or cancer may not be up for the introduction of a bundle of joy, in this case you may want to consider an older dog, especially if you’re a senior.
On the other hand, the vet may feel the puppy will encourage a healthy, but an increasingly inactive pet to get up and about and enjoy more activities.
Dogs, like people, can also have mental health issues, including dementia, which your vet may not witness in a single visit. Watch older pets closely for signs of confusion, failure to recognize family members, or irritable behavior. Tell the vet about any concerning observations. If the dog is suffering from dementia, it will get progressively worse, and it would not be the best time to add a second pet.
In some cases, older dogs become frightened—especially during hearing or sight loss. If a dog is deaf or blind, it may not be able to contend with the persistent playfulness of a puppy seeking attention. It may snap or bite out of fear, leading down a long road of increasing tension between the two.
Older pets often become less active because there is little to interest them, but they are otherwise healthy. Adding a puppy to the household can excite a senior dog and breathe new life into them as they play and interact with the adolescent.
For older pets in their declining years and with health issues, consider waiting until their passing before adding another dog. After all, they have been faithful companions for many years, so they deserve a quiet, safe place to live out their days.
If adding a puppy is the right thing for the entire family, look for a pup of the approximate same adult size and think about breed type and personality as well. Don’t assume your dog will get along with just any puppy, be prepared for a period of adjustment and be patient. Both your dogs will appreciate you for it.
This article appeared first on The Dog Daily