What makes a pet a good older-sibling?

Before he was the rough-and-tumble-anything-goes adventurer he is today, Eko was just a little stinker. It’s a big world and there was a lot Eko was uncertain about. On the first day I brought Eko home he was very wary of my mom’s dog, Scout.

Despite the devil eyes in this photo, Scout is a total sweetheart. Nevertheless, Eko jumped in my lap every time Scout so much as looked at him

With lots of cooing and encouragement I was able to arrange a meeting. Eko didn’t bolt but he did use me as a human shield.

Although he was still wary, Eko was reassured by Scout’s sweet demeanor

And it wasn’t long after this first meeting I would walk into the kitchen to this scene:

From strangers to siblings in no time

Eko adjusted to his new life very quickly and an important part of his successful transition was Scout’s stewardship as his big sister. She was at turns tolerant, forgiving, playful and motherly. Scout helped teach Eko everything from bite-control to where to sit down when you wanted to let humans know it was time for a walk.

With Eko as a big brother in waiting, I now wonder how he will act with the roles reversed. Where Scout was submissive, Eko is assertive and where Scout was nonchalant, Eko is inquisitive and curious. Although, I think Eko well remembers the days when he was scared of his big sister. And if the park is any indication, those memories have stuck with him.

When other dogs act submissive, Eko stops playing and reassures them he’s harmless

“See, I’m just a big baby. Nothing to be afraid of.”

I really lucked out having Scout to help me show the ropes and I’m hopeful Eko will pay it forward as a dutiful and doting older brother. With that in mind I have a question for those of you with multiple dogs. In the days (or weeks or months) before you brought home the new dog, was there anything you did which you felt made it easier for the current dog to be a successful sibling?

20 thoughts on “What makes a pet a good older-sibling?”

  1. We did the whole thing of when visiting the pup before bringing her home (Millie in this case) we made sure we had something that had her scent on it, i knew what I was calling her so we would use her name a lot too and when we bought her bed and things we would tell Myfie and Ellie who they were for. I have no idea if any of this stuff helped, when she arrived on the scene she was boisterous and full of energy and it was THEM who were wary of her!
    I’m sure Eko will make a mighty fine big brother!
    Hugs, Carrie (Myfie, Ellie and Millie) x

  2. I would think that the most important thing is that Eko still gets the same amount of attention prior to the new arrival. Even though we have four dogs now, each dog gets individual attention and walks etc regularly throughout the week.

    We found that the dogs just got on with things and sorted out everything themselves. Obviously we were vigilant and ready to step in if things escalated but we tried to leave them to explore each other’s boundaries and tolerances.

    Get in touch if you need any more advice (I have lots!!). I have been through this many times and it has always gone well 🙂

  3. We made sure to continue to expose Millie to other dogs and would visit the rescue’s meet and greet events frequently. Millie & Walter had two meetings before we adopted Walter. The first was at a meet and greet and it was obvious from that meeting they would get along. Then the foster mom brought Walter over for a play session. We kept leashes on at first and walked around the yard together. Then we let them play off leash. We have a 1 acre fenced yard so they had plenty of room to romp and again showed that they were a perfect match. I think it somewhat depends on whether you are getting a puppy or older dog. Obviously if it is an 8 week old puppy you might not have the opportunity for the pre-introductions, but with Eko’s temperament it would seem he would be fine with a little one.

    We can’t wait to meet your new girl.

    Cindy, Millie & Walter


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