Written by: Megan McCorkle LVT
You have enjoyed your senior dog for many years and now he is sleeping more and less engaged than before. This seems like a good time to get a puppy to increase your senior’s engagement and grow your family. Do you know that not all seniors like having a new puppy in the house? Why might this be you ask?
First, your senior or senior(s) may have been the only dogs in the house for some time. They have gotten used to a consistent routine and family dynamics. Adding a puppy to the mix only challenges the routine and can really upset your senior family members. Trying to incorporate a new routine for the puppy can be a challenge and may be impossible due to the different needs of each dog. Know that consistent routine is imperative for both your senior dogs happiness and your puppy’s growth and development. It’s a delicate balancing act that must be respected to ensure overall success in the household.
Second senior dogs are often more tired or hurting due to aging factors, and a puppy can be more of a foe than a friend. Puppies are full of energy and want to play while a senior may just want to rest and not exacerbate their pain. Puppies need someone to teach them manners when it comes to the senior housemate. You can help this by establishing some boundaries for your older dog where the puppy is not allowed so that both dogs can have the time they need to learn to accept the new family dynamics.
Finally, if your senior has even the slightest bit of anxiety a new puppy could cause this to be a bigger struggle. They do not understand what is happening – why your time with him is less, why you are constantly yelling about potty accidents, etc. If your senior has lost his ability to hear and see, a new puppy could drive their anxiety due to the unpredictable nature of a younger more vibrant dog.
Growing your family is a beautiful thing and encouraged. However, knowing how to help your senior adjust to this change is so important to his overall quality of life in his later years. Living with unchecked pain or anxiety can make the overall transition difficult for the entire family. Please discuss these changes in your senior with your veterinarian and slowly introduce the new member with dignity and respect for both dogs and their age related needs.