Buying A Puppy To An Older Dog Essay

Dear Cesar,

I have a stable pack of three older adults. Since they are getting so old, my husband and I want to add a puppy. We have babysat the puppy of a friend for a weekend, and our dogs hate puppies.

Puppies are ignorant and absurdly brave and curious. Is there any direction on how to get the pup to learn to respect the big dogs without him getting hurt? I am sure, if I leave a pup unsupervised with my geriatric neutered male, the old man will joyously get rid of the puppy problem. I have not found any guidance on this issue. I have not yet got a puppy but want to. The older dogs are not mean, but puppies tend to be obnoxious and old folks still have tempers. I am guessing constant supervision or crating until they are big enough?

Related: 8 essential steps to bringing a new dog into the home


Deborah Longtin


Cesar Millan's answer


Dear Deborah,

The first thing to remember is, when you have a stable pack, they don’t “hate” anything. You or someone you know may have caught the episode of Oprah where I showed her how to introduce her new puppies to the very dog-aggressive Sophie. That’s a good visual for you to focus on. In a stable pack, there is always room for growth and change.

The nature of dogs is that they don’t raise puppies when they are advanced in age; just like us, they want to raise their kids when they still have the energy to keep up with them. It’s not that the puppies are “obnoxious” to them, it’s just that they have another state of mind. In order to be around the older dogs, the puppy has to already have his social skills and his energy drained so they will accept him into the group. Think about kids who are raised by older parents or children visiting their grandparents. Those kids are the ones that are able to sit down in grandma’s lap and stay quiet while she reads them a book.

The best thing you can do for the older dogs to coexist peacefully with the puppy is to tire out the little guy. Start walking and training the puppy as soon as possible. Make sure your puppy and senior dogs get along by matching the puppy with the one pack member who is youngest in mind to guide and take this puppy under his wing because he can also prepare it. Eventually the parenting instincts can kick in making this dog feel, ”This is my puppy.”

Constant supervision is absolutely a must, even 5-month old puppies still need to be supervised, so take the time and enjoy the journey. When you can’t be there to supervise, exercise the puppy before crating him. He will naturally want to rest. But don't over do it, crating a puppy all the time until it is big enough is absolutely the wrong thing to do. Crating doesn’t create social skills and social skills are what are going to get him through. Of course always consult a professional.


Stay calm and assertive,

Cesar Millan

How many dogs do you have and how old are they?

Adopting a new puppy is an exciting time for pet parents! If you have an older dog at home, you might be wondering how to introduce the new puppy to them. Puppies don’t yet understand the ‘dog world’ as your older dog does. With some preparation, however, you can make the meeting a success. Here’s how to introduce your two furry family members to each other.

Before the Introduction

Before you bring your new puppy home:

  • Put away your older dog’s favorite chews and toys, to avoid territorial behavior.
  • Create spaces in your home where both dogs can get away from the other.
  • Purchase separate food dishes to prevent possessive aggression.
  • Ensure both dogs are up-to-date on their vaccinations.

During the Introduction

Your older dog considers your house his house. In order to prevent territorial aggression, find a neutral area to introduce the older dog to the new puppy. Put your older dog on a leash while another person holds the puppy on a leash. However, let them sniff and meet each other; there’s no need to hold them tightly to your side. You don’t want them to feel restricted.

The initial introduction should be relatively quick.

Stay calm throughout. Your dog can sense tension within you and is more likely to be stressed if you are. Your dog will take your emotions into consideration throughout the introduction. He looks to you to understand how he should react to a situation.

Entering Your Home

For the first week or two, the older dog and puppy should be continuously monitored to ensure the dogs are comfortable with one another. Follow your older dog’s regular routine. Begin establishing a routine for the puppy as well, to provide necessary structure.

Watching your dogs’ body language for the first several weeks will help you gauge how they’re reacting to one another. If the puppy is young, he may not understand the body language of the adult dog very well. For instance, the puppy will likely want to engage in playtime even if the older dog is showing signs of discomfort.

What body language should you watch out for?

  • Raised fur on the back of the neck/back
  • Prolonged stares
  • Growling
  • Snarling
  • Display of teeth
  • Hunched back

What Not to Do

What’s off limits?

  • Do not allow the older dog to bully the puppy
  • Do not, ever, allow the two dogs to fight
  • Do not hold the puppy in your arms during the introduction
  • Do not force them to be together
  • Do not allow them to share a crate. Purchase a new crate for the puppy so both dogs have their own space.

What to Do Instead

  • Do allow them to get used to one another at their own pace
  • Do introduce them in a neutral area
  • Do allow them to escape to their crate if desired
  • Do feed them in separate areas
  • Do spend quality time with them separately
  • Do allow them to interact positively if desired
  • Do allow them to play with supervision
  • Do supervise them at all times for the first several weeks

The Takeaway

Following the steps above will result in an easier transition for both the puppy and the older dog. They’re both likely to feel more comfortable with one another and become ‘friends’ faster if you help them get to know each other comfortably. A peaceful home is good for everyone—human and canine alike.


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