Puppies are adorable, or at least the majority of the world seems to think so. In fact, humans and dogs alike seem to both possess a mechanism inside of them that recognizes when something is just over the top cute. Yet, for whatever reason, when you decide to bring home that new puppy from the shelter that you just couldn’t pass up, your dog finds a safe space for herself and just stares sadly at this fuzzy little intruder. Why the cold shoulder? Is it something innate to their development, or a behavior learned from past experiences? Is it breed specific, or are all dogs somewhat dismissive of their young? Is it a permanent problem, or something that generally leaves with the passage of time?
The Root of the Behavior
One of the most common reasons for your canine staying away from a new puppy is that it may actually be fighting an urge towards violence. Mother dogs have actually been known to kill their litters, and there can be several reasons for this, the first being stress. Stress can bring out a lot of unwanted behaviors in your dog, and infanticide is one of the worst. If your dog starts to get super stressed out due to all the new visitors coming in to see the young puppies, it's time to give her some space. Your dog may also feel an aggression towards its young if they've had fresh surgical procedures. Persistent wounds that exist on a dog's young can actually convince the mother that there's some sort of abnormality or deformation present. With this in mind, your dog's instinct is only to put these perceived "runts" out of their misery.
Your canine can also get aggressive with the new puppies if she cannot recognize them as her own. This can often happen when a dog's scent is covered up or unfamiliar. There are a lot of reasons for this, so make sure you avoid giving the new puppies any baths or scenting them in other ways. If your dog was pregnant and had to have the litter surgically removed, this is another scenting issue that should be focused on in the weeks after the birth of the litter. She may very well not recognize they’re hers.
There also exist several disorders that can affect your dog's ability to nurse. She could quite literally be allergic to the very milk she's producing. This irritates a dog's nipples, so when her puppies go to nurse she ends up feeling quite a bit of pain. If this allergy persists, it could end up with your dog neglecting her puppies altogether.
Encouraging the Behavior
If you see your dog is avoiding her puppies, be them strangers or related, it is also possible that she just is not happy with how rude they are being. This may sound almost silly, but dogs have a very complicated set of social behaviors. When other dogs "drop the act," it can be very disconcerting for your canine to understand where this new puppy fits into the house hierarchy or "pack." Eventually, this problem tends to take care of itself as the new addition to your home starts taking social cues from the "pack leader,” which is your adult dog or dogs.
Through the countless generations, your dog may have also lost the connection to her base instincts. This is actually quite common for some of the modern breeds. After thousands of years of being treated like pets as opposed to wild animals, the habits of domesticated dogs have changed in some very significant ways. One of the most obvious ways in which this could have occured is in a total loss of your canine's parental instincts. With proper attention and training, this can be countered to guarantee that your new puppy or puppies grow up happy and healthy.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Something to consider are the ways in which you can help avoid a tragedy like the ones above. Accidental death can occur with new puppies relatively often. If your dog is avoiding her puppies by nudging them into corners, it's possible that these pups could end up getting shoved into less than safe spaces, where they could be crushed or smothered by either an unwitting human being, or the dogs themselves. If you’re being regularly confronted with bad behaviors from your dog involving new pet additions, it’s possible that some training might be in order. Several animal behaviorists have talked about the pack dynamic in human households. Without proper guidance and introduction, your dog can become quite jealous and stressed over all this attention being given to another animal.
At the end of the day, if your dog is avoiding her puppies, it can mean a lot of things. Your dog could be seeing these new animals as prey, or she may just be confused as to why they don’t know how to act like a dog in the first place. Regardless, there should always be a high degree of care when dealing with young canines. If you raise them right, they may just run away with your heart!
By a Shiba Inu lover Patty Oelze
Published: 02/07/2018, edited: 01/30/2020