What Do Adult Dogs Think Of Puppies?

Dogs are highly social animals that often live together in multi-dog households. When a new puppy joins a home with an adult dog, it brings excitement but also many changes. This article explores how adult dogs perceive and interact with puppies. It provides insights into adult dogs’ instincts, energy levels, safety considerations, and bonding when a new puppy arrives.

The goal is to help dog owners understand what’s going on in their adult dog’s mind when a puppy enters the home. By covering the adult dog’s perspective, the article aims to provide tips for smoothing the transition and setting up both dogs for success.

Adult Dogs’ Instincts Towards Puppies

Adult dogs have strong instincts when it comes to puppies that are rooted in their pack mentality and parental behaviors. As social animals, dogs have an ingrained sense of pack structure and roles [1]. When a new puppy is introduced, the adults will work to establish hierarchy and their place in relation to the puppy. Adult dogs often demonstrate protective behaviors over puppies, keeping watch and intervening if the puppy is in danger or distress. This aligns with a dog’s innate nurturing instincts and desire to care for their young [2]. Parenting behaviors like correcting, training, play, and caregiving help adults guide proper puppy etiquette and integration into the pack.

Curiosity and Playfulness

Most adult dogs will be curious and interested in puppies at first https://www.dogbreedinfo.com/articles/adultdognewpuppy.htm. Puppies have an abundance of energy and enjoy playing for hours. Adult dogs may join in and play for a short time, but can easily get overwhelmed by a puppy’s constant pestering and nipping http://www.clickertraining.com/what-to-expect-introducing-a-puppy-to-your-adult-dogs. It’s important for the puppy to learn boundaries from the adult dogs. If the adult dog growls or walks away, the puppy needs to respect that and find another way to expend its energy. With maturity and proper training, the puppy will learn when enough is enough.

Patience and Tolerance

Adult dogs often exhibit great patience and tolerance towards puppies. Puppies require gentleness and care from adults as they explore and learn about the world. According to this article, adult dogs will often correct puppies with gentle warnings rather than aggression when boundaries are overstepped. They seem to understand that puppies are still learning the rules. While rambunctious puppy behavior can sometimes annoy older dogs, they will often simply walk away to take a break when it gets to be too much.

It’s important for owners to provide adult dogs with their own quiet space that is off-limits to the puppy, according to WebMD. This allows the adult dog to relax and prevents overwhelming them. With patience and proper introduction, adult dogs can exhibit remarkable tolerance as they help guide puppies through early socialization. Their calm, gentle guidance helps the puppy learn how to be a well-behaved member of the pack.

Training and Socialization

Proper training and socialization of puppies is critical for their development into well-adjusted adult dogs. Adult dogs play an important role in teaching puppies manners and acceptable behaviors through correction and modeling (Howell et al., 2015). When puppies are young, they often jump, nip, and roughhouse which adult dogs will gently correct by giving a warning growl or snapping at the air. Adult dogs also model calm and polite behaviors that puppies can learn to emulate. Through these interactions, puppies learn “doggy etiquette” like respecting personal space, taking turns, and inhibiting hyperactivity or excessive roughness. Adult dogs provide an invaluable service in socializing puppies during this critical developmental period.

Energy Level Differences

Puppies generally have much higher energy levels compared to adult dogs. While individual differences in breed and personality play a role, puppies are naturally inclined to be more energetic and excitable.

Young puppies from 8-12 weeks old are usually very lively and playful, needing plenty of activity and exercise throughout the day. Many experts recommend 5 minutes of exercise per month of age, up to twice a day. So an 8 week old puppy may need around 10-20 minutes of play and activity multiple times a day (Purina).

As puppies grow into adolescence around 4-8 months old, their energy typically peaks as they explore, play, and push boundaries like rebellious teens. Puppies at this age need upwards of 30-60 minutes of daily activity. While their energy and stamina are increasing, they still require plenty of rest between high activity (HSNT).

By 1-2 years old, most puppies have settled down into calmer adult dogs. Their energy requirements even out compared to puppyhood. But playful puppy spirit often continues into adulthood. Adult dogs still need exercise and interaction, just in moderation relative to the boundless puppy energy.

Safety Concerns

Adult dogs can often be much larger than puppies they are interacting with. Puppies have soft cartilage and growing bones that are more fragile than an adult dog’s body. Size differences combined with rough play from an adult dog could cause harm to a puppy (Getting Puppy Play Right With Safe Play Sessions).

Even playful shoves from a large adult dog may knock over a tiny puppy. Big paws batting at a pup or friendly nips could lead to scratches or bite wounds. Adult dogs may get carried away while playing and not realize they are being too rough with a puppy (Appropriate Dog Play: Normal Vs. Unacceptable Canine).

It’s crucial to supervise all interactions between adult dogs and puppies. Stop any play that seems too rough or makes the puppy scared. Only allow gentle play at first as the dogs get to know each other.

Stress and Anxiety

Puppies can be extremely overwhelming and stressful for some adult dogs. Their constant high energy, playfulness, and curiosity can be too much for more reserved adult dogs to handle.

According to Adaptil, older dogs may “want to sleep more, and will be less tolerant of a puppy who is raring to go and who always wants to play!” Introducing a new puppy requires patience, as the older dog needs time and space to adjust to having an energetic youngster in their territory.

According to Adaptil
, “it’s important that your older dog gets plenty of “alone time” away from the puppy.” Setting up a quiet, separate space for the older dog can help relieve stress and anxiety.

As explained by Dogster, “Similar to the reasons a dog might get depressed when attention shifts to a puppy, they might start to display anxious behaviors.” Signs of stress in an older dog can include growling, snapping, trembling, avoidance, or loss of appetite. It’s crucial to closely monitor the dogs and not force interactions. The two dogs require slow, gradual introductions with positive reinforcement to build a healthy relationship over time.

Bonding and Familiarity

Adult dogs tend to bond with and show protective behaviors towards puppies they are familiar with. When a new puppy joins a home with an existing adult dog, the adult dog will usually go through an adjustment period as it gets to know the new puppy.

As the adult dog spends more time around the puppy and becomes accustomed to it, they will typically begin to form a bond. This bond helps the adult dog see the puppy as a member of its pack that it needs to watch over and keep safe.

An adult dog is more likely to show patience and tolerance for a puppy’s antics once they have formed a connection. The puppy transitions from being a stranger to being a familiar presence in the adult dog’s home and life.

Adult dogs are known to let down their guard and playfully interact with puppies they are bonded with. They will allow familiar puppies to crawl on them, nibble on them, and follow them around as they keep a watchful eye.

In summary, adult dogs generally become protective of and build bonds with puppies they have gotten to know, leading to increased tolerance, playfulness, and guarding behaviors.


In summary, adult dogs have a mix of instincts and learned behaviors when it comes to puppies. Their initial curiosity and playfulness helps socialize puppies, but adults need proper training and socialization themselves to interact safely. Energy levels and tolerance vary dramatically between individual adult dogs. With proper introductions, bonding, training, and supervision, adult dogs and puppies can coexist happily. But owners should be alert to signs of stress in either animal and provide proper outlets. The main takeaways are that adult dogs and puppies require thoughtful management, training, and socialization to build positive relationships.

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