Many pet owners have a tough time deciding whether to add a new puppy to the household when the resident senior dog is in decline. If you have the time and energy to manage encounters and meet the needs of each, it can be rewarding not only to you but to your old dog too.
“The majority of time the addition of a new puppy can rejuvenate an old dog, giving him or her a new lease on life and improving their quality of life. But it requires some time and management to work well,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice.
For example, it often takes a month for a new and old dog to acclimatize to one another. If your senior pup is in rapid decline and might pass in a month, it might be best to wait. However, a pet’s sunset era can cover many months, if not years, in which case, the sooner the better.
“Having a pup around can be a form of enrichment for your senior,” Dr. Brush said.
The temperament of your senior dog should be evaluated when choosing a new puppy, with consideration given to size and breed characteristics of each. Senior dogs are also creatures of habit who crave routine. Disruption may cause anxiety or envy if not mediated. For this reason, it’s important to give each pet time and space, and to honor the pack order.
- Focus your attention on your older dog before greeting your younger dog
- Feed your older dog first
- Put the leash on your older dog first
- Ensure your senior dog feels like their belongings – toys, chews, etc. – still belong to them and not the new puppy.
What’s the best way to get senior and junior off to a good start?
Remember the importance of territory to your resident senior during the introduction phase, and:
- Introduce on neutral ground off leash, through a fence OR
- Walk the dogs parallel before introduction
- Offer brief sniffing opportunities
- And/Or Let the resident elder find the new dog already in the house.
With a bit of patience, a new pup can bring new life and new love to you and your old dog.