Behavior – Old dog resents new puppy

Dear Your Own Vet,

OK….here goes, hopefully this is accurate:

Older dog doesn't like new puppy

Bringing a pup into a household of older dogs

I was recently given a puppy (ostensibly to foster until a forever home is found) and I already have 2 dogs who are about 10 years and 11 years old respectively

(they were street rescues, so exact ages are unknown). My bigger fellow, Merlin, is a 70-lbs Rottweiler mix who is much more patient with the puppy but isn’t sure how to

play with him. My smaller fellow, Peety, is a corgi-chihuahua mix who is already a dominant dog and who can be food and toy possessive. Peety growls if the puppy comes

within three feet of him. He is finally coming down to breakfast after nearly 4 days of being rather obstreporous. I have tried positive reinforcement – making something good happen

whenever the puppy is around, I have tried spending more time alone with him so he doesn’t feel ignored and I make sure I am reinforcing what is acceptable

behavior, but while I don’t think he will attack the puppy, I’d like a happier pack and would like to know some specific actions I can take to get him to cooperate and relax.

What other tips do you recommend?

I’ve been around dogs my entire life and I know that MOST training and balance is training ME for consistency, etc.



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how older dogs react to young dogs

What to do when your old dog dislikes your young pup

Dear Gaby,
Thanks for contacting me about your problem. You obviously love dogs and you are doing a wonderful thing helping this puppy and by having other rescue dogs.
It can be difficult introducing a puppy into a household, especially with two older dogs. Older dogs are more grumpy and if they have some old age pain related issues, this can make them more grumpy.
I like your positive reinforcement approach – keep doing this. However, you must still be in control so that the older dog doesn’t hurt the puppy. You can intervene with a growl (uh uh) towards the older dog if it is going for the puppy. When the older dog is calm and being ok then you can reward it. Although spending more time with the dog is ok, you have to be careful and this can sometimes make that dog more assertive towards the puppy. You do need to have a strong pack hierarchy and stick to this all the time. The puppy is last and needs to get everything last – food, greeting, attention etc. This usually helps the older dogs to see that their hierarchy is respected.
Don’t forget to give the older dogs some time without the puppy. They need their rest and quiet time away from the pup.
You are correct that you need to be calm and consistant at all times. Good luck.

Kathy Clayton
Accredited Companion Animal Behaviourist &Professional Dog Trainer

011 783 3042   082 454 1750

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