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A Pup for Your Pet

One day you notice that your pet doesn’t play fetch with the same enthusiasm, is a bit slower going up and down stairs, and stays a bit closer to the fireplace on cold nights.  Dogs suffer the physical and emotional effects of aging just as we humans do.  Noticing this leads to the consideration of livening your pet’s life up with a younger companion. 

A second dog will provide companionship for your pet, add entertainment to their lives when you are not home, burn energy for the younger dog and encourage activity for the senior pet.  The older dog will show the pup the ropes, set limits for what’s allowable, and the puppy will provide regular encouragement for play and exercise.

Most people report that in the vast number of instances a new younger companion will give new life and enjoyment to your older pet.  But, like human relationships, introducing a new pet requires some planning and care in implementation.

First, the ideal time to introduce a new friend is before your dog is very senior.  At an advanced age issues of sight, hearing, movement make it hard for your older pet to adopt to a new pet.  The ideal time is when your pet is healthy enough to enjoy the morale boost of a friend. 

Secondly, consider issues of size, breed, and temperament.  Choosing a younger dog of similar size and compatible breed will improve the chances for a successful relationship. 

Introducing your new younger dog requires some care and planning.  Arrange for them to meet on a neutral space where neither is protecting territory.  Let them get to know each other – a bit of sniffing helps them get to know and be comfortable with each other. 

Your older dog has been master of the house for some time, and is likely to be resentful of the intrusion of a newcomer.  A few tips to make the adjustment smoother:

  • Make sure that your pet has their own space, and that initial greetings are in less of their private space.
  • Removing toys for the time being may help prevent conflict.
  • Crate training for a new pup will help them feel secure and let your older dog adjust more gradually.
  • Set food bowls some distance apart and monitor feeding time to avoid conflict.
  • Initially walk each dog separately and introduce shared walks in smaller increments
  • Monitor play time carefully – Find the balance between encouraging your older dog to more activity and overtiring them.
  • Provide your older dog with extra attention to reassure them that they are not being supplanted.
  • Your pup is likely to learn the “rules of the house” from your resident pet but puppy training is still in order.
  • Monitor your older dog’s endurance. The enthusiasm of a younger friend may lead them to overdo. 

It may take a while, but most pet owners report that they see a clear improvement in the quality of their pet’s life and find pleasure in seeing the companionship that develops for both. 

If you have an older dog, consider all the ways you can adapt their world to their changing abilities.  One key element to maintain is their connection to the outdoors.  Dogs experience the world through their extraordinary sense of smell and they read the news from the scents on the air.  Consider a pet stroller for walk some and ride some to keep them fully connected to their world. 

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