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April 24, 2014

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.
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?

Comments for What makes a pet a good older-sibling?

  1. We didn’t do anything specific, but we did try to make sure our dog had the appropriate obedience (and fun) training down pat. We had hoped that the new dog would learn all the good things from our other dog…but sadly that didn’t happen that much. The two of them have learned good and bad things from each other, which I guess isn’t really that surprising when you think about it. 🙂
    But like you, we tried to make sure that our first dog was dog-friendly in lots of different situations, including having other dogs stay over with us at our home (and in our yard). I think it’s more about what you do AFTER the new dog arrives than what you can do in preparation (with regards to the dogs, not the home or the supplies, etc).

  2. Having you there to raise the new pup and to reassure Eko, I have NO DOUBT that Eko will be a SUPERB big brother!

  3. ThatJenK says:

    We didn’t bring home Alma until Moses was well-trained and socialized and through most of his development phases (he was 4 when we got her, and she was 2-ish when we adopted her). We had enough experience to know how Moses reacted in most situations – with nervous dogs, with exhuberant dogs, with puppies, with older arthritic dogs.
    With Moses there, Alma was able to learn she can share toys and doesn’t have to compete for resources (esp. food) – Moses is pretty easy going, but he’ll also tell her when she’s gone too far, and she respects his boundaries. It’s a good match. They were sleeping side-by-side in identical positions on her first night with us!

  4. PigLove says:

    When I came to the Hotel Thompson, there was already two purr things who thought they were in charge – snorts. Mommy held me a lot the first couple of months with them sniffing at me. Then she started gradually putting me down with them here/there for a little bonding time. Having an oinker is not like having a poochie but it’s similar. They took me in and showed me the ways of the Hotel Thompson. XOXO – Bacon
    P.S. And Hemi *still* thinks he is in charge here. I don’t want to tell him differently – he has HUGE paws and knows how to use them on my back side – double snorts.

  5. I made sure the day I picked up Artemis that Apollo was worn out. I wanted him to be so tired and happy he couldn’t care less. I also started making sure other things were around; I bought another kennel and put a new dog bed in it, I bought a bigger water container (I use a gravity flow one). I wanted to introduce the new things so Apollo would have a chance to adjust first.

    Luckily they pretty much hit it off from the start. There were times where Artemis’ puppy antics were a little too much for him, but nothing some separate playtime and a few one-on-one walks didn’t resolve.

  6. Kuruk says:

    Before Nalle came to us, Mama told me I had to help her teach her efurrything! Having a job with my little sisfur made it easier fur me! Wooooowoooooooooo!

  7. Emmadog says:

    My sister Katie is like that at our house. I tend to have less patience and like to be real bossy but Katie is super gentle with Bailie, just like she was when I was a pup. Eko will do great!

  8. I am so impressed with the thought and care you are putting into this – you are such a great role model for prospective dog owners!

  9. I only have the experience of a toddler little sis Elko but she is lots of fun (well most of the time). Good luck mate. We will be reading with interest as mum would like to get a 2nd dog at some point.

  10. Eko is going to be a great big brother!!

    ~ Amy

  11. harrispen says:

    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

  12. I think Eko will be a great big brother! Boomer was a lot and still is a lot like Eko in his playful curious way but when Dottie showed up he mellowed a bit and showed her the ropes, some good and some bad.

  13. 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 🙂

  14. pawedblog says:

    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

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