Canine Behavior/8 month old puppy acting sad and depressed now that new puppy has arrived
I have an 8 month old male pug puppy. He's been around other dogs and people since we have gotten him, and he is probably the most social dog I have ever met. So friendly! We decided to get another puppy because he spends a good bit of time by himself while we are at work. We brought home a female pug puppy, and although there have been no signs of aggression and some signs of interest every now and then, our original pug has not been acting like himself at all. He's fine when we go to my mother's (she has three dogs, and we go over there all the time and they play and play and play), but when we are at home, he just seems lethargic, sad, and not his usual playful self. It's really breaking my heart. It's only been about five days, so I may be jumping the gun or worrying to much, but there are no words for how much I love my dog and I hate to see him this way. Is this something you think he will move on from once he gets used to her being there?
Thank you for your question. As you mentioned, the new puppy has only been in the home for 5 days. And my guess is that nobody actually had a discussion with your existing dog to find out if he actually wants a full-time housemate. ;-)
The transition to having a 2nd dog can be stressful for many dogs. It takes time to get to know the new dog, to work out the dynamics of this new relationship, to determine resting positions, cuddle time with their people, play time with each other, etiquette around food and toys and even the water bowl. Some dogs are totally fine from day one, but most are not. Most dogs have a transition period of days to months before they full settle and relax.
My guess is that your existing dog is a bit confused, feeling a bit invaded and he's probably exhausted. Have you ever had a guest over and then gotten tired and you're ready for them to leave, but they just keep on chatting or hanging out? It can be very tiring to be "on" in host mode all the time. So some of what you're seeing may just be one exhausted dog - not actually depressed, but just really, really tired.
But, he may be a bit depressed or at least stressed by this change in his living arrangement. You didn't indicate how old the new puppy is so I don't know how much time she's demanding of you. I don't know how good her social and play skills are - does she respect him when she tries to initiate play and he says "not now"? Or does he have to tell her over and over and over again to leave him alone? Does he get private time to relax while the puppy is in a crate or playpen so he's free to be anywhere in the house he wants and he's able to get all the cuddles and human-play he needs?
It's important to make sure he doesn't feel like he's losing his spot in the family to another dog. The best way to do this is to have private quality time with each dog. Ideally 5-20 minutes for each dog in the morning before work and again in the evening after work. It might only be possible to have 2 or 3 minutes for each dog alone before work, just make up for it with a longer private time in the evenings. And on weekends, you can take each dog out separately for car rides, walks or other fun outings. You will do many activities together as well, and as the dogs get more comfortable and your existing dog feels more secure with the new living situation, you may not need to do as much private stuff with each dog. But for the first several weeks to few months it can only help the situation.
In my own home, when I brought in a puppy, the puppy had all his meals and naps in a playpen. I also insisted that he spend at least 2 hours over the course of each day just entertaining himself quietly (with a Bully stick or an antler or Nylabone or food stuffed into a Kong, etc) in his playpen while I took my older dog for a walk or did some training or just played or cuddled with my older dog. And my puppy slept overnights in a crate for the first 8 months I had him before I graduated him to being able to sleep where he wished in my bedroom. This was partly for potty training, but also partly to learn to be OK by himself and to prevent him invading the personal space of my other dogs.
Now, that puppy is 3 years old and the 2 dogs are inseparable. They're best friends and play together, cuddle together, swap toys and Kongs without any resource guarding or aggression at all. But in those first months it was necessary to give my adult dog time to relax and recover from the very high energy expenditure that's required to interact with a puppy for long periods of time.
So, in your home, I'd encourage making sure that your adult dog has plenty of time to be separated from the puppy throughout the day. I know you got her to be a friend for the adult dog while you're at work, but I'd keep the puppy in a playpen during your work day. Your adult dog can go over to the playpen and hang out near the puppy, but he can also walk away and take a break whenever he wants to. Then have supervised play time with both dogs so that you can intervene as necessary to help guide good interactions. And also some private time with each dog each day so they both get their proper lovin' time with their people.
Proper supervision of dog play looks like this:
Dog A tries to play with Dog B, but Dog B isn't interested and so Dog B shows his teeth or growls or snaps at the air to voice his desire to be left alone. These are normal and appropriate dog communications.
Dog A has two choices at this point.
Dog A respects the communication and moves away to look for something else to do. Human praises all dogs for good communication.
Dog A fails to heed the communication and tries to get Dog B to play again. Dog B must say something again. At this point, Human intervenes by redirecting Dog A to another activity. Dog B learns that Human has his back and he won't have to defend himself against a dog with poor social skills. Dog A (eventually, with repeated experiences) learns to heed Dog B's initial comment.
If Dog A heeds Dog B's request to be left alone, but Dog B charges after Dog A and continues to snark at Dog An, then Human intervenes to redirect Dog B. It's acceptable for Dog B to say "leave me alone," but once the point has been made, it's not acceptable for Dog B to continue bullying dog A. Here we redirect dog B (your point has been made) and teach Dog A that we've got his back and we won't allow another dog to bully him when he's being respectful.
Now, this goes both ways - no matter which dog is holding the position of Dog A or dog B in the interaction.
I hope this helps clarify what's likely going on in your home. It's a brand new living situation and a brand new personality that your dog is having to learn and get comfortable with. Give him time, patience, space and reassurance and encouragement and I expect he'll come around. The dogs don't have to be best friends, but they do have to be comfortable with each other and neither should be feeling overly stressed by the living arrangement.
Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance.
Jody, CPDT-KA, APDT
Los Angeles Behavior Specialist