A mix of senior dogs and puppies is much like a blended family with children in high school and children in kindergarten. Your kids aren’t always going to get along, have little in common, frequently argue, and once in a while, they’ll play together.
Do I recommend placing puppies in a home with senior dogs? I’d certainly prefer not to, but for a few dogs, it can be a blessing to add some life to the party and for some owners, it can be unavoidable.
So today I want to talk about a few tips for keeping the peace between those old pups and their younger counterparts.
5 Tips for Keeping Peace Between Senior Dogs and Puppies
Let me preface by saying that it is possible to keep the peace in a household with senior dogs and puppies. In my personal experience, however, the average pet household runs into more problems than benefits when forcing these two generations together.
It’s common sense really. Would you ask your 90-year-old grandmother to tolerate your toddler all day every day? Probably not. That toddler is going to wear her out, put additional strain on her aching joints, push her boundaries, and yes, even get on her nerves.
There’s a reason that women stop being able to carry children when they do – it’s just unrealistic to expect a senior to keep up with the needs of a young child.
Now, does that mean that it can’t work? Of course not! Plenty of grandmothers babysit and even take custody of their young grandchildren, but in order to make it work, they need support.
Your dog is no different and it’s your job to make sure that your senior dog isn’t being overtaxed.
So, what can you do?
1. Give Your Puppy PLENTY of Exercise
Consider doggy daycare as a way to exhaust your puppy’s puppy energy. This will mean less energy for them to use up bugging your senior dog and it gives your senior a little quiet alone time during the day to de-stress, decompress, and catch up on a little sleep.
2. Give Your Senior Dog a Refuge
Make sure that your senior dog has a refuge – a place that they can go to seek out a little peace and quiet without your puppy on their tail. The best way to do this is to provide your senior dog with a crate (we loved our Noz 2 Noz soft dog crate) and make sure to keep your puppy occupied so that your senior can get a break!
3. Train Your Puppy!
Training is a must for any dog but particularly for a puppy living in a home with a senior dog. Just like your grandma, your senior dog expects your puppy to act a certain way and that includes using their manners! Even if your puppy isn’t old enough for obedience class yet make sure to use positive reinforcement to teach your puppy about acceptable and unacceptable behavior. For example, never let your puppy enter your senior dog’s crate, instead, train them to “leave it” or “come here” with a treat reward and make sure that your puppy has their own crate to call home.
4. Don’t Leave Your Senior Dog Out!
It’s easy to get caught up in puppy breath, but leaving your senior dog out and focusing all of your attention on the new puppy will quickly lead to resentment, jealousy, and even acting out. Do the same things you have always done with your senior dog, take them for one on one time, take a walk designed for their endurance, pay attention to them!
If your senior dog is particularly attached to one member of the family (like Jet was with me!) it’s extremely important that this member of the family continues to spend time with them. It’s also beneficial for this person to limit time spent with the new puppy until things in the home settle down a little more. Your senior dog can very easily feel replaced if “their person” seems to have adopted a new target for their affections.
5. Respect Your Senior Dog and Make Sure Your Puppy Does Too!
Don’t drag your senior for long walks with your puppy just so you can save time. Don’t let your puppy tear apart your senior’s favorite toy. Don’t feed both dogs at the same time in the same room and make your senior feel rushed to eat just so the puppy won’t eat it. Know when your senior is feeling a little achy or is showing signs of pain and keep your puppy away.
Allowing exuberant puppies to constantly nip at and bother senior dogs who are in pain is one of the biggest reasons for growling, snarling, and even biting. Know how to recognize signs that your senior dog is in pain or has had enough and remove your puppy from the situation immediately before tending to your senior dog’s needs.
Having Trouble Getting Your Senior Dog and Puppy to Get Along?
If you are having trouble getting your senior dog and puppy to get along why not leave a comment below! Many pet parents before you have tackled this same issue and would be happy to share their tips and advice with you!