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I Feel Guilty for Getting a Second Dog

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.

Ace of Spades - Feeling guilty for getting a second dog

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.

Guilty for getting a second dog

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.

Our Weimaraner puppy Remy

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!

I wrote about how Ace has been aggressive to the puppy, so we’re closely managing them. There will be ups and downs but it seems like things are getting slightly better. Here they are.

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!

Dallas

Sunday 6th of February 2022

I have a Jack Russell Buster. He is 12 at the moment and my best friend. We got him when I was five and we grew up together. He is my everything and just yesterday we got a four month old Husky German Shepard mix (Barry). Buster and Barry do not get along because Buster is very protective and possessive of me. I feel so guilty right now. I love Barry but maybe this was a mistake. I feel like Buster thinks I’m replacing him and that is not the case at all. Buster was my first dog and he will always be THE dog, the one that was there for me through my hard times and the one that cheered me up. I feel horrible.

Jen

Tuesday 21st of December 2021

Wow…I thought I was alone in my feelings. I have a 5yo Shih Tzu, Oliver and he is literally my perfect dog. I got him when my older dog that passed about 18 months ago was 13. So I know why I got him. I did not get him to be her friend, I got him so that when she passed I would still have a dog to love. They got along fine and she was quite independent so I don’t think I ever felt “guilty” about getting Oliver. Fast forward 18 months since her death and I started thinking maybe Oliver would like some 4-legged company. I don’t necessarily need another dog, but I can certainly handle one and if it makes his life happier; I would do it. My groomer’s client passed away and left behind a 6month old puppy. She is extremely well behaved and calm and respectful; I could fall in love with her. But Oliver wants nothing to do with her over the last 4 days. It’s a foster situation and there would be a ton of people lined up for this perfect puppy so I don’t have to make things work. It’s just been very stressful and if Oliver doesn’t want the companionship then it’s probably best to get her into a different home. I just don’t want to fall in love with a dog when oliver is already enough for me if he doesn’t want to live with and find comfort with another dog. What do I do?

Rose

Sunday 17th of October 2021

I m so sorry for your loss. I too lost my beloved dog, a one and half months ago. I miss her tremendously.

Dané

Monday 27th of September 2021

So glad I found these posts! Milo is my little baby and is 4 years old, a couple days ago I got a new 8 week old puppy. Milo does correct the puppy but he doesn't seem too happy with the pup around. I got a puppy because I didn't want Milo to get lonely if I go out or do something but I feel like Milo has almost retracted from me because the pup is imitating his every move, so in the morning, Milo would come give me morning kisses and now if the puppy tries to join, Milo runs away m I hope they get along eventually, Milo is in perfect health so my only regret is being nervous that my relationship with Milo changes, he's my sweetheart and I would never want him to feel like another dog gets more attention or anything. Thanks for these posts! I really needed them!

Lindsay Stordahl

Monday 27th of September 2021

Everyone needs time to adapt. I just got a new pup in July and I feel guilty too but I know both dogs are loved and get plenty of attention. I try to do things with both dogs and also things separately so they get one on one attention from me.

Katie Richards

Sunday 8th of August 2021

We have a 7 year old Shih Tzu (Bailey) and just yesterday brought home a rescue 18 month old Dachshund (Max). Max is very playful and energetic and Bailey is laid back and quiet. I am really struggling with guilt as I feel like it's completely disrupted Bailey's life. I hope it gets easier and we settle into a routine together, but I have had a lot of "what have I done" thoughts. :(

Lindsay Stordahl

Sunday 8th of August 2021

I think that happens to most people. My senior dog died so we had just my younger dig who is now 5. We recently got a puppy and while me adult dog likes the puppy I still feel guilty for spending time training the puppy and adding stress to our lives.