Question: We have a 5-year-old dog and weâ€™d like to get a puppy. What are the pros and cons of bringing a pup into an older dogâ€™s world?
Answer: If you have the time and energy for two dogs, bringing a pup into your current dogâ€™s life could be a great thing. Ostensibly, the two of them will always have somebody to play with, and thatâ€™s a great thing for mental stimulation and exercise. Not to mention being fun to watch. Often when the incumbent is older, another younger dog can actually add some years to his life. I have seen the revitalizing influence of this dynamic many times.
Dogs are often the best trainers of other dogs. So if there are any loopholes in your current dogâ€™s behavior and training, Iâ€™d suggest tightening them up because Max will teach the new dog how to conduct himself. If Max has a barking or jumping issue, put the effort into getting that fixed. In the absence of behavioral remediation prior to the puppyâ€™s arrival, you can be guaranteed the puppy will observe and learn the bad behaviors. And any so-called problem can be fixed, no matter how old your resident dog is.
Conversely, a new pup will develop good habits from being raised around an obedient, well-behaved pack mate. The most important thing to make sure you have dialed in is walking on the leash. This will pay huge dividends because our dogs need at least one daily walk, depending on the dog, and this must happen in an orderly fashion. A structured walking routine is important for the exercise factor and thereâ€™s an important psychological element to the walk that lends itself to reinforcing your pack hierarchy. Tighten up Maxâ€™s walking methodology, and the new kid will take his cues from him. Donâ€™t wait to get the pup to teach your current dog the right way to walk on the leash, as you wonâ€™t be able to teach them together. But if Max is already a champ on the leash, guess what? Yep, heâ€™ll help the puppy learn how to do it, too.
Itâ€™s not uncommon for a resident dog to have mixed emotions about a puppy at first. He may enjoy the exuberance of the pup in the beginning, and then tire of his antics. This is where you, the leader, come in. Because if if the incumbent doesnâ€™t possess the level of dominance required to make his own boundaries, you will have to step in. Rank has its privileges and even if the pup grows to technically outrank your current dog, Max shouldnâ€™t have to live with an unaware puppy whoâ€™s motor wonâ€™t stop running.
When you can tell the older dog is done playing, shoo the puppy away from him, and maintain that boundary. If you have to use a leash in the house for a bit to keep the puppy away from him, so be it. You donâ€™t want your current dog to get so annoyed that he flips out on the puppy, or runs and hides. The corrective cue I use in this situation is â€śleave him alone,â€ť but obviously learning what these words mean will take awhile before the puppy will comply without being forced to do so.
Itâ€™s important to teach the new dog some respect for the incumbent, especially if heâ€™s older. Max should get petted first, should never eat after the newcomer, and should have the preferential sleeping spot.
Finally, I like the idea of the new dog being of the opposite sex. This is not a mandatory edict, because I have seen same-sex relationships between dogs under the same roof work out just fine. But as a rule when these relationships go south, invariably one factor is that theyâ€™re the same gender.
Additionally, in most cases, the female dog winds up outranking the male. (Not unlike the way it is in the human world.)
Originally from Louisiana, Gregg Flowers is a local dog trainer who â€śteaches dogs and trains people.â€ť Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or dogsbestfriendflorida.com.