Older Dog Regressing With A New Puppy? How Can You Help?

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

I will never forget the day I brought my second puppy home. It was such a joyous and emotional experience as we had a loss in the family sometime before.

The thing was, we had an existing dog and were worried about the impact it might make.

If you have an older dog regressing with a new puppy, what should you do?

I hope you can take solace as many dog owners will find themselves struggling to balance the needs and wants of two dogs, and in this post, I want to share all the reasons and tips to help you deal with this situation.

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Signs Your Older Dog is Depressed About Your New Puppy

Signs Your Older Dog is Depressed About Your New Puppy

Lack of Interest in the New Puppy

Have you gotten yourself a new puppy and everyone is so excited about it? Well, can you say the same about your older dog?

If your older dog doesn’t share the same excitement over the new puppy, you best believe that sadness is the new feeling now.

Observe how your dogs behave around each other. In my experience, older dogs will tend to ignore the new pup.

If you try to make them play with each other, the older dog will most likely just leave and go about its own business in another area.


Has your older dog been known to be full of energy and is now suddenly acting apathetic?

That’s another sign that the new addition to your fur-mily makes your older dog depressed.

If you try to play with your older dog and it seems uninterested to reciprocate your cheerful energy, you can assume it’s unhappy with the new pup.

Changes in Body Language

Unhappy older doggy goes from wagging its tail playfully to tucked tail between its legs – is that what you see now?

Not only that but if you see hunching and cowering toward the floor, these are also some of the body languages that you can observe when your dog is stressed.

Your dog might do such a thing when it’s near your new pup as its way of expressing discomfort and distress. 

Barking More Often

Many dogs bark all the time, sure.

But when your older dog is depressed about your new doggy, it will bark in annoyance at your new dog.

Loud barks and even low grumbling growls can be heard when your older dog is not happy about its new company.

There are also times when your older dog will bark more often to get your attention away from the new dog. 

Dogs are so smart that way!

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Doggy says, you might be keen to read this too: Do dogs go through terrible twos?

Changes in Sleep

Most of the time, older dogs sleep off their sadness over new dogs.

They will use sleeping as a way to escape from the living nightmare that the new dog is.

But there are also some occasions when older dogs have a hard time sleeping, both of which are definitely causes for concern.

Change in Potty Habits

Loo, your older dog has already fallen into a routine.

When a big change such as an additional new puppy happens, your older dog might feel distressed.

The stress your older dog experiences can cause it to forget habitual things it usually does and so potty habits can be affected.

No surprises here, but accidental peeing might just happen more often than not now.

Loss of Appetite

Stress can take your doggy’s appetite away. 

Your dog will feel too sad and uncomfortable to touch its bowl of food if it’s miserable with the new pup.

Always check your older dog’s feeding bowl if it has finished its food.

Withdrawn Behavior

Depressed dogs tend to be on their own just to avoid having to interact with a new puppy, and they might withdraw from playtime and will choose to just sleep in a corner far from anyone else.

Clingy Behavior

Dogs who are depressed don’t always resort to shutting people out.

The clingy behavior of your older dog is their way of keeping your new dog away from you.

Your older dog will follow you around and will constantly sleep beside you just so it won’t have to share your attention with the other dog in the house.

What to Do if Your Older Dog is Depressed?

What to Do if Your Older Dog is Depressed?

Have Patience

Don’t pressure your older dog into fully accepting the new pup right away. Give your older dog time to adjust to the change you’ve made to its life.

Extra Attention

Shower your older dog with extra love and attention.

Play with it more, take it to walk around the block, and give it more treats. 

Show your older dog that it still got your love even with the new pup in the picture.

Don’t Change Its Routine

Stick to what your older dog has gotten used to. 

If you take it on walks in the afternoon, go out for a walk during that time.

The new pup is already a big change to your older doggy’s life, you can’t expose him to any more new changes. 

Give Each of Them Space

Don’t pressure the two doggies to be friends right away.

Avoid making them stay in one room when you see that the other one is unhappy.

Slowly introduce them to each other without being too persistent because it will only make the dogs more stressed.

And NEVER let your new puppy play with your older dog’s toys! 

Your older dog will be jealous, and will just be angry at the puppy.

Create Positive Associations With the Puppy

Whenever you see your older dog near the puppy without behaving badly, give your older dog some treats. 

Your dog will start associating the action that being with your new puppy will earn it its favorite treats.

Consult With Your Vet

If your dog’s depression over your new puppy grows, you’ll have to talk to your vet.

Your vet will know what better to do for your dog, and they’ll give you helpful medical advice that can lift your older doggy’s mood.

How Do I Get My Dog to Bond With My New Puppy?

Gradual Introduction

Bring your older dog and new pup to a neutral space where neither will feel territorial.

Have another person hold the leash of the puppy while you hold the leash of your older doggy.

Let them sniff each other until they become calmer around each other’s company.

Reinforce Positive Behavior

Give your older dog its favorite treat when it comes close to the new pup without being mean.

This will make your older dog associate being friendly with the puppy will earn him rewards.

Focus on Training

Train your older dog to be friendly around stranger dogs so it won’t have a hard time getting used to the presence of a new puppy at home.

Socialization will go a long way in making them feel comfortable with new additions to the family.

Give Each Dog Individual Attention and Love

Play with your dog while the other one is asleep or away and let them have you on their own from time to time.

This technique won’t make them feel the need to constantly fight for your attention.

Plenty of Exercises

Plenty of exercises will give your dogs enough mental stimulation which eases their stress over the new introduction you’ve made between them. 

Create Separate Spaces

Don’t let your puppy sit in your older doggy’s favorite spot. 

Your older dog will be territorial so give them separate spaces they can enjoy without having to fight over them.

Let Have Their Own Resources

Feed them in different bowls, and let them play in different areas.

If they want to share toys let them play with one toy, but if they seem hostile in sharing provide each of them with individual toys.

Engage a Professional

Talk to your vet about what better to do with dog introduction. 

You can also call a dog trainer who can help you get your dogs to become closer to each other.

What Should You Consider Before Bringing a New Puppy Home to an Older

Older Dog’s Temperament and Behavior

Is your older dog too territorial?

If yes, you’ve got to consider whether getting a new pup is the right thing to do.

Does your dog love to play?

If yes, a new pup will definitely boost its mood.

Puppy’s Age and Energy Level

Is the puppy old enough to match the energy of your older dog?

You gotta consider if your puppy can cope with your older dog’s energy so it won’t feel left out.


If your older dog has health issues, a new pup will either cause it more stress or may not make good company.

Availability of Space

You gotta make sure your home is big enough for two dogs. 

Small spaces will cause them to constantly fight over territory while having larger spaces can allow them to play freely.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long does it take for an older dog to adjust to a new puppy?

There is no exact time frame for this, but your older dog will usually take no more than one month to adjust to a new puppy. A month is enough time for the two dogs to come to terms with each other’s existence.

Do dogs get jealous of new puppies?

Yes, dogs get jealous of new puppies. That’s why it’s important to give them both equal love and attention.

In Conclusion: Why is my Older Dog Regressing With A New Puppy

It does not always have to be a case where your dogs do not get along.

The simple formula of having lots of patience, no rushing, and lots of love for both of them will go a long way.

Check out other dog behavior posts such as dog putting head on other dogs neck, why my dog won’t eat or drink with cone on, why is my dog licking his paws after grooming, and many more on our blog!

You’ve made it to the end, but I hope it’s not the end of our journey. We want to hear your voice! Share your thoughts, problems, suggestions, or anything related to your dog in the comments section. And don’t forget to join our newsletter today too.

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Canine Care Central!

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