By Karen A. Soukiasian
Odds are, eventually older dogs will accept a new, younger dog. However, some will not make joining their pack easy for the newbie! As far as the older dog is concerned, the new puppy or dog must learn and earn their place in the pack.
In this scenario, many older dogs behave just as they would in the wild. By ignoring, and/or growling at the new puppy or dog, they are displaying their Alpha status. In an instinctive, and natural way, the puppy is learning respect and pack order.
There may be a lot of drama with growling and snapping; rarely does it get more serious than that. Stay out of it, unless you see it is getting out of hand. By interfering, you are disrupting the natural order of pack psychology and survival. Smart puppies will back down, out of respect. Often, what you will see is, as the older dog senses the puppy or new dog accepts the terms of their relationship, there will be more peaceful, and less dramatic interactions.
A terrific way to help your dogs bond is to walk them together. By demonstrating your leadership skills, you are instilling in both dogs, YOU are at the top of the pack. Now, they have something in common. They are both subordinates in the pack.
Let your older dog see good things happen when the puppy or new dog is around. This can be done by giving them treats, and tons of praise, for staying calm. Spend quality time alone with your older dog. Don’t let them feel they are being “replaced.” Secure dogs are happy dogs.
Find a few common fun exercises and games they will enjoy doing together. As they playfully interact more with each other, gracefully bow out. Let them focus on and enjoy playing with each other, not you.
Enroll in a positive reinforcement, punishment-free obedience class. Just because your older dog is not a puppy, doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy Puppy Kindergarten. Your older dog will be a great role model for your puppy. Puppies love learning by “monkey see, monkey do.” They also get to be a part of a larger new pack…the socialization with other dogs and puppies will be beneficial for both of them.
BOTTOM LINE: Be patient. By letting nature take its course, normally the situation works itself out. Oddly, the best part about doing it this way is; the puppy’s inherent pack instincts are reinforced. It is how they associate trust, respect, and their rightful place in the pack have to be learned and earned.
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