Q&A with Dr. Berger: Adding a second dog

by Jeannine Berger | Jan 28, 2015 17:05

Dr. Berger,

I recently welcomed a new 4 1/2 month puppy (Ellie) to my home I share with my 10 year Lab (Lilly). Although it has been less than a week since Ellie has been here, I am concerned about Lilly's behavior toward Ellie.

Lilly has arthritis and is active once up and about, but has decreased response time. I think this is one of the reasons she barks and bares her teeth at Ellie when Ellie wants to play. The other big reason, for the past 5-6 years it has just been the 2 of us. I feel bad for Lilly, and I also feel bad for Ellie.

Can you help?

Dear Sarah,

This is a common problem. It is important that you manage the situation for both dogs. Don't feel bad for either of them, once they have learned the rules they will most likely be fine. 

For the Puppy:

The puppy wants to play and has to have enough play outlets that do not include Lilly. Take Ellie to play groups or to play with your friend’s dogs that have good dog on dog skills. This will allow her some playtime and also teach her to be calm around Lilly. Teach Ellie confinement in the home. Use a crate or baby gate or even a leash to prevent Ellie from being too rough with Lilly. Play with Ellie on a schedule.

For the Adult Dog:

Make sure Lilly is comfortable and does not have to worry about Elllie being to rough. Make sure she is feeling well medically and take her to the vet if needed for some pain medications. Do not punish her for barking or growling at the puppy - it is  your job to manage the situation so the puppy is contained and Libby does not have to worry.

For both dogs:

Create shared positive experiences. You can do this by taking the two girls on walks together, having them on their (separate) beds with food dispensing toys, petting them while on their beds, etc. All interactions between them should be positive and controlledat this stage. Both dogs could possibly benefit from Adaptil. Adaptil dispenses a pheromone that is calming to dogs. You can opt for a plug in or a collar that will last for 30 days. You can buy Adaptil over the counter or even at amazon.com

I hope this information helps.


Dr. Berger