Why is My Older Dog Scared of My New Puppy?

By Bethany Tate

An older dog can be scared of a new puppy because of anxiety, a lack of socialization, bad experiences with other dogs, or out of jealousy for attention. 

Is your older dog acting afraid of your new puppy and you want to figure out why? Are you looking for ways to help your dogs get along with each other and enjoy one another’s company?

In this article we’ll cover just that. Let’s dive in! Here’s the most common reason an older dog is scared of a new puppy. 

The older dog is anxious about change

Sudden changes to a dog’s routine or environment can cause anxiety, especially if those changes were unexpected. A new puppy might be an exciting change for you, but for your older dog it can be a world changing event. 

The regular rhythm and flow of each day has suddenly been jolted and your older dog doesn’t know what to do. The uncertainty triggers anxiety and your older dog might see your new puppy as the source of all the stress, leading him to act scared around the little one. 

If you think your dog is anxious about a new puppy it’s best to start building out a new daily routine that incorporates the puppy. Over time this routine will help the older dog settle into a new normal, and he won’t freak out around the puppy. 

Your older dog has a lack a socialization 

If your older dog hasn’t spent a lot of time around other dogs then a new puppy could seem strange and even scary to them. If this is the case, then you will need to socialize your first dog with the new one. To do this, start by introducing both dogs to each other in a neutral space. This would be a space that your older dog doesn’t feel is his own. This could be outside, at a park, or even at a friend’s house. 

Once the dogs have been introduced you can start doing parallel walks and training games to help the dogs become even more comfortable with each other. 

Your older dog had bad experiences with other dogs in the past

If your dog has met other dogs in the past and it didn’t go well, then your older dog might be afraid to repeat bad experiences with the new puppy. To overcome this fear you can use some of the socialization techniques we just mentioned. 

It’s important to give your older dog new and enjoyable experiences with your puppy. This way the bad associations will be replaced with good ones and the older dog  won’t be scared of the puppy anymore. 

The older dog is jealous for attention and territory 

Sometimes older dogs are afraid of puppies because they see them as competition for their territory and your attention. The best way to help your older dog overcome jealousy is by making a point to spend quality time with them on a regular basis (even if it’s not quite as much as you used to before the puppy). 

As long as your older dog knows that you haven’t forgotten about them, they should be able to adjust to having another dog in the house. 

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Bethany Tate
Writing and analyzing data are her superpowers. Dogs, nature, and trail running are her oxygen. Bethany passionately believes pets make the world a better place. Her world is made better by Nemo, her pet dachshund.