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Canine Behavior/New puppy & older dog


We have a new puppy we just got and an older dog in the house, and we are having some problems... this is probably not a TYPICAL dog introduction situation.

Our current dog (Shihtzu/spaniel mix, 3-4 years old, female) was out of the house on vacation for several days, and while she we gone our foster application went through for an orphaned puppy.

So I got the new puppy, brought it home, set it up with heating pad/feedings, and then our dog came home. We were not intending to introduce them, but she ran through the door and immediately sniffed the puppy. That seemed fine, she didn't have hackles up, growl, or any behavior other then smelling and then I was able to interrupt by moving the puppy back into it's bedding area.

Our older dog then urinated on the floor, which she has NEVER done.  She then drooled everywhere, for about an hour. After being in different room she seemed calm but almost lethargic - I was told she hadn't had regular sleep and way too much play on her vacation time. She slept a long time, and then I let her in the room when puppy was in another room... she urinated on our bed twice! I had plastic sheeting on the bed still from when we moved in, so I cleaned it up with vinegar. She then peed on the floor out in the livingroom, and hasn't peed on the floor or bedding again since.

She now ignores the puppy, will not go near it, will not look at it. They can be in the same room and she will basically avoid going past where the puppy is even to get treats! We have been feeding her first, putting her on the bed/couches first, and giving her attention first which is very hard because the puppy is so incredibly young. Nothing seems to be helping. She additionally is not eating, for about 24 hours now although she will drink water. She will not play, etc. She's just acting all wrong.

Our older dog has a history of separation anxiety and she is mostly attached to my fiance, and not myself at all. She sleeps on his side of the bed, goes on trips with him, and listens only to him.. he grooms her, he takes her out. I have been primarily caring for the new puppy, and he barely looks at her, which I thought might help but it's not.

Any advice? Is there any hope she'll eventually like this puppy? Anything we could do differently? Puppy is too small to really be in a crate, she's in a dog bed inside a whelping box with a heating pad.  Other dog has free roam of the house.

Greetings, and thank you for contacting All Experts,
First of all, bless your heart for helping out an orphaned puppy! It sounds like your older dog has undergone quite some stress recently! If she was out for vacation with somebody else, it can be already stressful to change home and being around other people/noises/smells. Add on top of that the excitement of going home again and now the new puppy; that's quite a lot for a dog to handle all at once!

As you may already know, the best approach is to always introduce new dogs gradually, and preferably in a neutral territory, so it sounds like your older dog got the surprise a bit too soon. But oops moments may happen, so it's a bit too late now for the gradual introduction so let's focus now on some remedial work.

Despite your girl seemed fine initially, this doesn't mean that she adjusted fine. Indeed, what you are seeing sounds very likely stress-related behavior. Urinating on the floor in some cases, is often a dog's approach to "making things smell normal again" when there are novelties that they need to adjust to. However, I wouldn't exclude the fact that your dog could have caught a urinary tract infection. I would recommend a vet visit just to rule this possibility out. It can sometimes be even triggered by stress. Here is a list of symptoms of a UTI, but not all dogs get all of them:

Drooling is also a symptom of stress and is often seen in dogs suffering from separation anxiety. This is a reflexive reaction. So both the drooling and the inappropriate urination are clear signs telling she is very uncomfortable at this time. Since you mention she also had lack of sleep in the place she was kept before, that would have likely contributed to further increase her stress.

A puppy from an older dog's standpoint is quite different from another dog. Puppies have different energy levels compared to older dogs and they are often too boisterous. The puppy may be too much for your older dog at this time. Only time will tell if she'll be able to better tolerate bratty puppy behavior. For now, I would keep them separated; your older dog really needs a quiet place to retreat after all these recent changes. A pheromone DAP diffuser such as Comfort Zone may be helpful during this time.

If the lethargic behavior continues please see your vet. As mentioned, she may be showing the first signs of a urinary tract infection or some other illness. Stress can easily weaken the immune system causing the dog's energy levels to lower leading to lethargy and disrupted sleep patterns. The fact she is not eating and unwilling to play, eat treats or interact may be a red flag of something medically going on, or a sign of severe stress. So my main concern is if something health-wise may be going on.

Will she ever be able to accept this puppy? Only time can really tell. I would keep her separated at this time and not force any interactions; at least not until she seems to be doing better and appear more relaxed. I hope this helps and that your girl starts feeling better soon, my very best wishes.

Disclaimer: my answers are not be used as a substitute for professional veterinary or behavioral advice. If your dog is sick or exhibiting behavior problems, please consult with a professional for an in-person assessment. by reading this answer, you accept this disclaimer.  

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Adrienne Janet Farricelli CPDT-KA


I can answer questions pertaining dog psychology and general dog behavior. Why is my dog doing this? And what can I do about it? are common questions I am asked. I will not answer questions concerning health problems as this is out of my spectrum, but I can recommend a vet visit if there are chances behavioral problems may stem from a possible underlying medical problem.


I am a certified dog trainer (CPDT-KA) that has attended seminars on dog behavior. I am acquainted with behavior modification programs and have read several books from reputable authors such as Patricia McConnell, Turid Rugaas, Nicholas Dodman and Bruce Fogle to name a few. I have rehabilitated dogs affected by moderate to severe behavioral problems.

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