How To Train Your Puppy Without Excluding Your Existing Dog.

July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021

Is your existing dog having their nose pushed a little out of place after bringing home a new puppy?

After introductions are complete, and you’re beginning to train your puppy, it gets to the point that your puppy absorbs your time, and it can feel like you’re absorbed in them and your older dog can be left out.

That doesn’t have to be the case.

You can train both your puppy and make sure your older dog is included, or doesn’t feel excluded.

I want to share with you a few tips to ensure that both dogs get equal training, love and affection so that no puppy or dog feels left out. And that’s totally natural for your older dog to feel, because suddenly this new … cute little puppy is absorbing all of your time, energy and focus (which is incredibly draining for us humans too) so sometimes it can be so easy to let your older, already great dog, slip to the sidelines. 

The fact that you’re already conscious of this and reading this, means that you’re aware that it can potentially be a pretty bad idea. Why? Because your good dog also becomes hard work, and now you’re raising a puppy, and a rebellious older dog, and your frustrations are mounting which means that you may be tempted to take your frustrations out on your good dog.

That makes total sense. It’s an emotional time, where you can just feel so disappointed by them and your whole household just goes on a tilt that you can’t seem to counterbalance. Talk about an uphill struggle! 

So let’s not, huh? 

Let’s involve your other dog! 

Leverage Training

This is my favourite thing for teaching recall. You use your existing dogs fabulous recall ability to encourage your puppy to do the same. Your puppy’s instinct will often be to stick with their buddy! So, when you call the elder, and the younger comes too? That’s a great way to leverage the learning of your puppy from your wonderful, well trained dogs learning that’s already instilled!

Hey, it ain’t cheating if it works… And trust me, this one does!!  This way both dogs get the joy of training together. 

training your existing dog with your new dog is a really important!
training your existing dog with your new dog is a really important! These two are actually puppies, and that’s a whole new game…

Whilst Training Your Puppy? Make That Rewarding For Your Existing Dog!

Use a kong for them, or give them a delicious treat so they can have some downtime, so that they’re not being left to their own devices, staying out of mischief, and being rewarded for the time you’re spending with puppy, making puppy training a good thing for your existing dog.

This makes training a win for everyone!

Special Time

Make sure to give both dogs equal time with you, together and apart – especially for the older dog! You may wish to spend some of puppy’s napping time (because puppy will need more naps, remember!) training your other dog, or spending special cuddle time together where you’re your original family unit, your existing dog will love it!

Making that time and effort for your original dog will help them not feel like their time has been taken away or split, and foster a wonderful relationship between both puppy and your older dog.

Take Up A Dog Sport! 

Dog sports are a wonderful thing to do. They help you to learn new things, they help you to enjoy new things, and they’re going to get you out of your house too, and give you goals and things to strive for as well as giving some amount of accountability! 

existing dog labrador going dock diving
What fun this is!! This is Dock diving, where your dog (like this labrador!) can see how far their leaps go as they land in water!

Needing ideas? 

  • Flyball
  • Agility
  • Dock Diving
  • Earth dog
  • Barnhunt
  • Scentwork
  • Mantrailing
  • Hoopers
  • Trickdog
  • Bitework
  • Schutzhund
  • Rally Obedience
  • Canicross
  • Bikejoring
  • And a whole host of others! 

You could even try going hiking!

When you’re considering one of these activities, try to consider what your dog loves. For example terriers with a good prey drive tend to love earthdog and barn hunt! Whereas, Agility might be more fitting for a border collie or sheltie! And Scentwork? If your existing dog is a coonhound or German shepherd will love it! 

1 + 1 = 3…

Ali, that’s not how maths works, I hear you call!

But, au contrare ma cherie! With dog training? It totally is correct.

When it comes to dog training, the maths doesn’t work out linearly. When you get a new dog? This is the only part that’s a deceitful, sneaky time burden. 

We already know that training is important, and that dog training doesn’t stop, so we can’t just not train our older dog.

This is, ultimately, my favourite solution for making sure your existing dog doesn’t feel left out, or given the cold shoulder and ensuring their good behaviour stays on track.

Train Apart, Train Together

So, as I said above, two dogs is three times the training because you have to train each dog as an individual, and then each dog with the other dog. Which means that there is an additional amount of training needed. 

So, this can be a great way to include your existing dog. 

Your existing dog doesn't need to be left out!
Your existing dog doesn’t need to be left out!

Setting Up For Success And Being Realistic

Raising two dogs is hard work, take it from a dog mum of 3 wonderful woofs! It’s tough to make sure everyone’s needs are met, so try not to feel too bad about the situation. Sometimes it’s just not possible to meet everyones needs – and that’s okay. 

Please don’t punish yourself for occasionally struggling to meet needs. So long as they’re getting the best of you, regularly? Your dog will almost certainly be happy. 

And if they’re struggling? Then maybe it’s time to adjust your schedule and reprioritise your woof for a while, or find another solution! 

Help is a good thing.

Sometimes the assistance of a professional is a great way to make sure everyone’s needs are met. Othertimes, involving a professional trainer can help you to see the wood for the trees, which is one thing I can definitely help you with. 

Author, Ali Smith

Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.

Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ best pet blog!


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