Q&A: Companionship for older dogs

We recently adopted a small rescue dog (9 yrs old) to be a companion to our 10 yr old dog who has been lonely since our other dog died. From the description of the rescue dog from the rescue group, it seemed to be a perfect fit. We made a point that we wanted a companion for our other dog. However, the new dog has started snapping at the resident dog, and one time I was almost in the middle of it because I was putting their leashes on. We are disappointed that the new dog seems to have no interest in the resident dog or my son. I’ve tried to contact the rescue group to get some advice on this, but they don’t contact me back. Our resident dog loves to interact with other dogs and this is upsetting to us. Any advice?


Hi Carol.

Sounds like a tough situation.

Unfortunately it seems as if the rescue organization did not have a lot of information about the dog you adopted, and what seemed like a good fit at first, may have proven otherwise.

You didn’t mention how long you have had the rescue dog – If the adoption is very recent, it is possible that the new dog just needs time to settle in and find his place in your family.

Bonding with a human can take 6-12 months, especially if he has trust issues from abuse or abandonment. His interest in your other dog though, should be quite clear after several weeks.

A 9 yr old dog is considered a senior dog, and he may very well not have much interest in another dog at all.

The show of aggression is more of a concern. The dogs need to, at the very least, live amicably in the house.

You need to train the new dog that it is not acceptable to snap at your other dog. I would tell him a firm ‘no’, if he snaps at your dog, and then separate them.

You can set this up to practice in situations you know cause a reaction. You should always have the rescue dog on a lead when doing this so you have more control.

Depending on the severity of the aggression you may need to look at hiring a professional to help you and see if the situation is going to work out.

Good luck


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Junior Watson

Junior is the DogTrainingBasics.com resident "Top Dog". He enjoys walks in the park, chasing invisible cats, and of course... bacon strips!

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