I have a senior dog and a puppy—10 years old vs. 15 weeks old.
When you’re very bonded to your older dog and you get a new puppy it’s natural to feel a bit … guilty.
If any of you have experienced this, you’ll have to let me know in the comments or email (Lindsay@ThatMutt.com).
My senior dog Ace and I are very bonded. He is what I imagine is that “perfect” once-in-a-lifetime dog some people are lucky enough to experience.
I hope I have more than one of these dogs in my life, but Ace is special—my running and hiking and agility buddy, the dog who introduced me to fostering and blogging and so many friends I would’ve never met otherwise.
So when I spend the afternoon and evening with puppy Remy … taking him to the beach for a puppy playdate … taking him to puppy training class … I can’t help but feel a little bad.
I feel guilty for getting a second dog
I feel like I should be spending more time with my old guy, Ace.
So how should a dog owner manage her time between two dogs?
Let me know what you do in the comments. Here are a few ideas that work well for me.
1. Stick to a daily routine.
This may be more for my own sanity than it is for my dogs. Puppy Remy knows he gets a potty break early in the morning and then breakfast and back in the crate for an hour or so.
Ace knows he gets food and a walk as well. Then we all settle in for the workday. (Dogs sleeping, me writing.)
Throughout the day they both get their potty breaks, walks and food around the same times so they pretty much know what to expect.
2. Spend time with each dog.
Obviously both dogs need some time alone with me whether it’s a walk or playtime, training or cuddling. Ideally, they each get to do each of these things with me at some point throughout the week so it’s not just ONE thing they get to do separately.
For example, I try to take Ace for a walk by himself multiple times per week. I also play with him most days without Remy around.
3. Schedule adventures with the older dog.
I try to plan two “adventures” with my older dog each week. This doesn’t have to be anything too elaborate. It’s usually driving 5 minutes to our favorite park or trail or to a local pet friendly store or even just a laid-back walk around the neighborhood. He seems to really appreciate this time, and so do I.
4. Make sure the younger dog gets plenty of down time.
My puppy Remy has learned to be alone in his crate for a few hours (usually just an hour or so) while I focus on other things, whether I’m home or not. This is important for him because it teaches him he doesn’t have to be near me at all times and he learns to relax when alone and to be OK doing NOTHING (hard for a young weimaraner!).
5. Plan things with both dogs.
I have had to be careful because Ace can be very grumpy with the puppy, but there are some things they can do together like short walks, simple training sessions and getting treats (peanut butter from a spoon!).
Of course, some dogs get along perfectly and want to be together all the time. It that’s the case you’ll have no need to “plan” time for them together.
Other dogs don’t get along all that well (like my two), so I have to carefully think ahead and manage them closely.
Now that Ace is feeling better (he was sick), I’m planning on starting a routine where I drive them somewhere fun together each Friday afternoon. At the very least, we will go on a group walk. It’s important for them to have positive experiences together.
6. Remember why you wanted the second dog.
When I start to feel guilty about adding a second dog to our family, I remind myself why I wanted a weimaraner in the first place.
I wanted a running and hiking buddy, a dog that can walk to the beach, play for an hour and still walk home. I wanted a dog to take to training classes and agility and walks around our town.
Ace can no longer do most of these things (his mobility is limited), and he would get left at home even if we didn’t have the puppy. So really, things haven’t changed all that much other than I’m a lot more tired from entertaining a crazy little puppy!
So that’s how things are going with us!
2018 update: Ace and Remy get along really well these days (12 yrs old and 2 yrs old). They’re not best friends by any means but they hang out on the same dog bed almost all the time!
2019 update: Sadly, our senior dog Ace has passed away.
Did you feel guilty when you got a second dog?
Let us know in the comments!