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Adding A New Dog to An Older Dog Household

Start On Neutral Territory

This weekend we will be adding a new dog by taking in a friend’s 1-year-old golden doodle permanently. He’s well trained, but still a puppy. We currently have a bichon frise who will be 14 years old soon. He is a wonderful dog, gets along with other dogs & our 2 cats. I don’t expect there to be any issues, but our bichon is deaf and blind in one eye. I just don’t want him to feel we’re replacing him. We’re hoping that the doodle will put a few more years into our bichon. Thanks for your time.

Missy Norton – Fort Ann, NY

Hi Missy

When adding a new dog, meeting on territory completely unfamiliar to either dog is the best bet. This gets rid on one possible reason which might otherwise mislead you into thinking they’re unsuited for living together. Tiring out the younger dog before that and future meetings is not a bad idea either. Crating the youngster for the in home meeting (also after being thoroughly exercised) is wise. Leaving the leash on at least the younger dog whenever they’re to be together for the first few days is a good safety precaution as well.


Be on the alert for the first while for confrontations triggered by who eats first, gets treats first, goes in or out first, up the stairs first etc. This isn’t a seniority thing. The dog’s will tell you who that is going to be. Probably the old boy, I’d think.

If there’s a scuffle don’t worry too much. Some dogs do have to sort out who’s top dog. If it looks like it’s turning into a bloodbath (because one of them has a screw loose), turn a CO2 fire extinguisher on them. You can try and break it up yourself but you can get pretty seriously hurt as can either dog due to your interference.

Adding a second dog is said to contribute to longevity in an older. I think it’s either due to pleasurable benefits of stimulation or revenge if the original dog thinks you’ve tried to replace them prematurely. Either might appear to be a good reason but make sure the older dog is actually enjoying the company. Added years of existence isn’t all that great if they are miserable years.

Read this column as well regarding adding a new dog.

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