How Can I Help My Old Dog and New Puppy Be Friends?

Posted by: Kathy  /  Category: How to care for your Shih-Tzu puppy

Ask the AKC Animal Behaviorist – How Can I Help My Old Dog and New Puppy Be Friends?

by Paw Nation Staff (Subscribe to Paw Nation Staff’s posts)
Mar 30th 2011 @ 11:00AM Filed Under: Dogs, Ask the AKC

maltese dog photoedavid3001, Flickr

Meet Mary Burch, American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen director and Paw Nation’s expert columnist addressing your questions on animal behavior. Dr. Burch has more than 25 years of experience working with dogs, and she is one of fewer than 50 Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists based in the United States. She is the author of 10 books, including the new official book on the AKC Canine Good Citizen Program, “Citizen Canine: 10 Essential Skills Every Well-Mannered Dog Should Know.”

Q: How can I get my recently adopted 1-year-old Maltipoo and my 14-year-old Maltese to be friends?

A: When dogs get much older, sometimes owners bring in a younger dog in order to keep the older dog company. This can work well when a young dog brings some spark and new life to the household. Sometimes, the only reason for adding the younger dog is to anticipate that the older dog may not be around long and this is an attempt to reduce the owner’s pain when the loss occurs. (This only works if the owner is fully prepared to meet the needs of the new dog.)

Because there is a wide developmental gap between a 1-year-old dog and a 14-year-old there are different issues that can come up and it can be hard to anticipate which way it will go. The new addition could work out well, or the 14-year-old may be totally annoyed by the new 1-year-old pipsqueak who is jumping around and causing a ruckus.

I wouldn’t force the issue trying to make the two dogs be friends; however, I would try to make the time they spend together very reinforcing, and if there is any fighting, I would not put up with it.

1. Make sure the younger dog has plenty of exercise. She will need more than the 14-year old.

2. Schedule time to do activities with both dogs together and be sure to reward good behavior. Try sitting with them and watching a movie together or taking a casual walk. If they are both behaving nicely, give them both plenty of positive attention.

3. Take time to teach the new puppy basic skills such as sit, down and down-stay. You can use these skills to manage the little one’s behavior. If she is excessively rowdy, shows aggression or is just generally bothering the older dog, use a down-stay command or put the party girl in her crate for a brief timeout.

4. Until you can absolutely trust both dogs to behave well together, keep them safely separated when you are not home.

Want more from Mary Burch? Check out her blog or read some of her other Paw Nation columns.

Do you have an animal behavior question for Dr. Burch? E-mail your questions to If you have questions or concerns about your pet’s health, you should consult your veterinarian as soon as possible. Unfortunately, Paw Nation is not staffed to address individual questions about pet health, and we want your pet to stay healthy!


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