As a pet owner, you might observe some behavior shifts in your senior dog when a new puppy joins your household. This period of adjustment can be exhilarating as they acclimate to the newcomer.
One notable change could be your older dog frequently licking the new puppy. Initially, this might appear endearing or insignificant, but with time you might find it happening more often and wonder about the reason behind it.
Why does my older dog constantly lick my new puppy?
The simplified response to this query is multifaceted. Your older dog might be licking the puppy either out of habit or due to sensing an underlying problem that may be invisible to you.
Your senior dog might have developed a habitual licking behavior as a stress coping mechanism, which becomes more noticeable with the new puppy’s arrival. They might fixate on a particular area on the puppy – the ears, paws, or even the genital area.
If there are no health concerns, you’ll observe this behavior around the same time each day when the dogs are relaxed and close to each other. The routine might become so ingrained that the puppy begins to anticipate it.
If the puppy has a minor infection you haven’t identified, your older dog might sense it and lick the area to cleanse it. Even though your senior dog isn’t the puppy’s parent, they still retain parental instincts and the ability to detect illnesses that might not be visible to you for some time.
If your older dog suddenly starts licking the puppy when they hadn’t before, it might be linked to the puppy’s health. It would be wise to schedule a veterinary check-up and mention the sudden change in behavior.
Is your older dog dedicating a lot of time to the puppy’s ears? This could be a grooming instinct. Dogs can’t clean inside their ears and rely on regular external cleaning. While you as the owner will handle this, your older dog’s instinct might lead them to maintain the puppy’s ear hygiene.
This mutual grooming fosters bonding and builds the relationship you wish them to have for a harmonious cohabitation.
Why does my dog lick my puppy’s privates?
Another behavior you might find disconcerting is your older dog licking the puppy’s private parts. While initially unsettling, it’s quite normal and common in dogs. Essentially, the senior dogs are attempting to groom the puppy, teaching them cleanliness habits by example. This mirrors the older dogs’ self-grooming habits.
Despite the good intentions behind the licking, excessive attention to the genital area can lead to hot spots on your puppy. These areas can be uncomfortable and, due to persistent abrasion from the tongue, can quickly become breeding grounds for bacteria and potential infections.
How to discourage my dog from pestering my puppy?
If you’ve ruled out health concerns for your puppy and the older dog’s attention is causing undue stress, you might want to discourage the older dog from this behavior.
Firstly, consistently interrupt the behavior and make the licked area unappealing. Applying a well-mixed solution of apple cider vinegar and water to the targeted area can discourage the older dog due to the unpleasant odor and taste. As long as there are no hot spots on the puppy, they will only experience the unwanted vinegar smell. Other deterrents could include honey or a spicy substance.
Should I separate my older dog from my puppy?
If the licking becomes excessive, you might question whether keeping the dogs together is a good idea. While separation isn’t ideal as they need to learn to coexist, increasing physical activity for both dogs can serve as a distraction and deter the older dog from licking the puppy.
Ensuring they expend all their energy and receive adequate exercise promotes the dogs’ health. Keeping both dogs engaged and active can help keep your older dog’s attention off the new puppy.