It’s a Vet’s Life – by Vetsavers of St Thomas’ Road, Spalding

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Sometimes in life we find ourselves in a quandary, do we get another car or not? Do we go there for lunch or here?

These are decisions that can be changed once made, but the decision to get a puppy in a household that already has other dogs can not be so easily changed once the puppy arrives.

The first thing to remember is, when you have a stable pack, they don’t really hate anything, they just resent the change in their space.

In an already established household, there is always room for growth and change.

The nature of dogs is that they don’t raise puppies when they are advanced in age – similar to us who like to raise our children when we still have the energy to keep up with them.

It’s not that the puppies are “obnoxious” to an older dog, They just have another state of mind ­ – ‘puppyhood’ vs ‘seniorhood’.

In order to be around the older dogs, the puppy should already have his social skills in place.

So the day has come when you bring the puppy home, the first advice I would give is always have tired him out!

An older dog will always accept the introduction if the puppy isn’t running around hanging off his ears.

Think about children visiting their grandparents.

Tired kids are the ones that are able to sit down and stay quiet while grandparents read them a book (sadly a dying act these days).

The best thing we can do for the puppy to coexist with the older dog is get it tired.

In order for them not to have a bad experience together, make sure you begin with the older dog in mind to guide and take this puppy under his wing because he can also prepare it.

Eventually the parenting instincts can kick in to make this dog feel this is his puppy.

Constant supervision is an absolute must!

Please don’t get a puppy on Saturday and leave it with the older dog on Monday when you go to work.

There will be teething problems, initially, with aspects of jealousy and possible aggression and these scenarios can be diffused calmly by you, but only if you are there.

Make sure that the fuss is evenly distributed to both dogs, there is nothing worse than being the new kid at school and everyone sticks together leaving you feeling left out.

Make sure that the older dog can retreat to a quite place when they need too.

Don’t punish the older dog when and if he snaps at the puppy – he will do this if the puppy is left to investigate, antagonise and generally annoy him for too long.

Make sure that feeding time is done in order. The older dog will have his routine and he won’t want this disrupted by a little one trying to steal his food.

Given time they will eat together, but for the first week or so feed the puppy in another room and let the older dog eat in peace.

Don’t expect your older dog to suddenly go on long walks to accompany the puppy – again, think of the grandparents rule, they won’t want to go to the local fair and experience ALL the rides!

Adjustment takes time, so please don’t rush the interacting – give them time to get to know each other and they should get along fine.

Finally, please give a lot of thought to the breeds – a great dane could easily mistake a chihuahua as a small toy, equally a bouncy spaniel just might be a little much for a geriatric labrador to accept.

Next week, I will address the question from a reader about health problems with the older dogs.