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Introducing a New Puppy to a Dog

I would like to ask about introducing a new puppy into a household where I have a 6-year-old Golden Retriever.  Ema (my golden) is healthy, active and very friendly.  I am concerned how she will react to a new member of the family.  Ema has been my companion for 6 years but 4 years ago I lost my mother and Ema was my sole companion and helped me get through a very bad time.  I may have depended on her too much and overdid the attention she got.  I am worried that she may react to the new puppy in a negative way.  I know she won’t be aggressive but I am concerned she may fret since she has been the sole recipient of my love and attention. I have had many dogs visit and she always accepted them and played with them.  She is a very social dog.   My biggest concern is that she will become despondent. I know if I bring the puppy in that I will have to be sure Ema still gets lots and may be a little extra attention but I am concerned that she just might hide, not eat or countless other things. Possibly a 6 year old dog might be too old to introduce a new puppy?  I’m not sure.  Please advise me if possible what you think.


Hi Sandra,

It would be unusual based on what you’ve told me that she would find this anything other than a positive experience. There are situations where I’ve found that two dogs are just incompatible but yours doesn’t have any of the red flags, in fact just the opposite.

People can be particularly antsy when one of the two housedogs is a pup and it’s on the receiving end of a little dog-to-dog discipline and you might confuse “parenting” for resentment. Again, generally speaking the older dog knows exactly what it’s doing which is teaching boundaries of acceptable behaviour, at least as far as its own comfort zone goes. Not too much, not too little. You’ll be on your own as far as establishing your idea of acceptable behaviour with you.

Introduced properly most dogs sooner rather than later find a balance as to which is going to have say over what and it’s normal for dogs living together to have scuffles once in a while. Problems can arise if the dogs’ owner keeps interfering with the dust-ups before they have resulted in a conclusion satisfactory to the dogs. Unresolved issues can result in an escalation of aggression so it’s usually better to let them work it out. Easier said than done though as the difference between a dog argument and a dogfight is like the difference between Donald Trump on a clever and not so clever day. You know there must be a way to tell but either way all you want to do is to find a way to make it stop.

Make the introduction off property if you can. Tire out both dogs before the meeting and leave the puppy in the crate in your house until your dog has had a chance to investigate and you for a feel for which way the wind blows. When it’s time for nose to nose outside of the crate, leave Ema’s leash on and keep it slack so you don’t tense her up but not so slack that you can’t stay on top of things should the need arise.

Pawsitively yours,

John Wade
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