Sadly, things don't go according to plan. The puppy knows his job just fine and wants to play in that floppy eared, pounce-and-box-his-face way that puppies do. The trouble is the established dog is none too thrilled about it. In fact, he's downright grumpy about the new addition. So far he growled and grumped, shown his teeth and snarled, but not actually gone as far as snapping at the new bundle of fun. Oh dear, this isn't how you planned things at all.
You're fairly confident the older dog wouldn't actually hurt the newbie, but still, this tension wasn't part of the plan for one big happy fur family. In fact, you're wondering if you made the right decision since all that's been achieved is making the older dog miserable.
Now the older dog is no longer the center of attention. To make matters worse he's expected to put up with having his face boxed and tail pulled. Then there's how the upstart steals his food, bed, and favorite toys.
Helping an older dog accept a puppy has a lot to do with getting into the mind of the established dog, and understanding how he sees the world. This enables you to minimize the disruption to his life so that he feels less threatened and can open his heart to the youngster. This involves making sure each dog has his own resources (food, water, bed, and toys) and you acknowledge the older dog ahead of the puppy.
In addition, you can use reward-based training methods such as clicker training, to reward the older dog when he uses an appropriate coping strategy, such as getting up and moving away from the annoying pup, rather than growling.
We have 2 older dogs, a 7 yr old sheltie and a 4 yr old border collie mix. The sheltie has always kind of been alpha and the border collie submits and is cool with it. They aren’t best pals, but they get along fine
We just brought home the Newfie puppy about 5 days ago. We have maintained that the sheltie is alpha by feeding first, greeting first, and keeping his toys away from the puppy. He also is the only one allowed to sit with us on furniture. The puppy is naturally rambunctious and bounces and paws at the dogs. The sheltie is NOT having it. He stiffens and tries to turn away a bit, but doesn’t actually move away and eventually will snap. The puppy cries loudly and drops to the floor. I haven’t seen an injury yet from the 3 times this has been the result, so the puppy may just be sounding very dramatically out of fear and communicating submission. But it still concerns me. I don’t even expect them to be best buds. But I do expect them to tolerate each other eventually.
The 4 yr old is doing great. He doesn’t really want to play with the puppy, but he moves away and walks away, and occasionally growls as a warning without snapping.
I really am trying to protect the senior dogs from the rowdy puppy behavior, but I know this rowdy stage could last a while and the puppy being a Newfie, he will only get bigger and stronger. I separate them, but the sheltie tends to be jealous and if I’m paying any attention to the puppy, he wants to be part of it too...but then gets annoyed when the puppy plays with him.
Are there any other tips you can give me to help the older dog to tolerate the puppy’s behavior a bit more?
Hello Lindsey, Congratulations on the new puppy. When dogs in your home are not getting along the easiest thing to do is to remove the question of which dog is alpha entirely. To do this, you must be the one to make and enforce the rules for each dog, so that the dogs are not left to decide on their own. The bellow article can accomplish that without too much confrontation. Make sure that the rules apply to all of the dogs, not just your Sheltie or just your puppy. "The Obedience Method" and "The Consistency Method" are less strict methods to begin with, so I would recommend implementing steps from both of those, and if there is still a problem use the more strict method, "The Working Method". Here is that article: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you That article mentions Dobermans but the training is the same for all breeds. Also follow the steps for "The Clicker Training Method" in the article "How To Train Your Older Dog To Accept A Puppy", that you asked this question at the end of. You can also use that method without a clicker, by following the steps, using your voice in place of a clicker. The word "Yes!" in an excited tone works well for a clicker replacing sound. The timing of your "Yes!" and pairing it with rewards exactly like you would a clicker are important. Do this to help your older dog enjoy the new puppy by pairing the new puppy's presence with rewards. Also, along with working on teaching your dogs that you are the one who makes and enforces the rules, choose rules that require the dogs to give each other mutual respect. For example, "No dog is allow to take a toy from another dog", "No dog is allowed to fight another dog or be possessive of an item", "No dog is allowed to bother another dog while she is eating". If one dog tries to take another dog's bone, then scold the thief firmly and command them to leave the area, while blocking the dog with the bone from the thief so that the thief cannot get to their bone, but if the thief does steal the bone, the dog with the bone is not allowed to retaliate, that is your job! Instead you take control and go over to the thief and take the bone back and make them leave the area, and you return the bone to the dog who had it before. You can see how you are the one monitoring the dogs and creating and enforcing the rules so that the dogs do not try to do it on their own. This builds respect and also trust, because the older dog feels like you will defend him when needed so he does not have to defend himself as much. Also have a rule that the puppy must leave the older dog alone when the older dog is trying to sleep or get away or is telling the puppy without hurting him to leave him alone. Teach each dog the "Out" command, and when your older dog is trying to get between you and the puppy because he is jealous, tell the older dog "Out", so that he has to leave and not be demanding of your attention when you did not offer it to him. In the same way, when the puppy comes over to you or over to your older dog when your older dog does not want to play, tell the puppy "Out", and stand between the older dog and puppy and firmly walk towards the puppy and block him from getting to the older dog until he gets bored of trying and leaves the area. All of this will take extra time and vigilance on your part, but if the dogs learn the new order of things now, then it should get better as the puppy ages, rather than letting the puppy and older dog fight it out when the puppy gets old enough to potentially want to challenge your Sheltie's dominance status. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Our dog, Kylo, is just over a year old. He is the sweetest boy. Very playful and loveable. He goes to visit his friends (a male golden retriever, a female chow and a female poodle) everyday and he gets along great with them. When he can’t go play with them he is usually very depressed and thus we decided to get a new puppy, so that he can always have a companion with him. We brought home a 8-week old mini Schnauzer yesterday. The first couple of hours went really well, they got along and played. However sometime last night he decided that he has had enough and now he is in a terrible mood towards us and the puppy. She really wants to play with him but he just growls at her. It breaks my heart to see Kylo like this. We got the puppy hoping that it would improve his live, not make it miserable. Any advice on how we can improve the relationship will be greatly appreciated.
Hello Nicole, Congratulations on the new puppy! To improve the dogs' relationships work on three things. The first is to reward Kylo with treats whenever the puppy is around. As soon as the puppy leaves stop all rewards and ignore him for a minute. The idea is to make him think that the puppy's presence equals good things so that he will begin to enjoy the puppy's presence more. When you do this, keep your body between the two dogs so that they cannot compete for the food, and stop rewarding Kylo if he starts acting possessive and mean about the treats. The second thing is to make sure that Kylo has space of his own. Many older dogs simply get overwhelmed by puppies. Be sure to give the puppy a space of her own where she can go to chew on her own toys and leave him alone when he has had enough. As she gets older she should learn to respect his boundaries better if you work on teaching her to respect his space, so that he does not have to tell her to go away by growling or snapping at her. Lastly, decide what the rules are in your household for both dogs and you be the one to enforce them instead of either dog enforcing them. For example, if the rule is "Do not steal another dog's toy", then when you see one dog start to take the other dog's toy, go over there and defend the dog who originally had the toy by making the thief leave and returning the toy to whoever originally had it. Some great ideas for rules are: "No fighting", "No being possessive of people, objects, toys, or food", "No bothering another dog when he or she wants to be left alone", "No climbing, stepping, or generally disrespecting the space of another dog", or "No pushing another dog out of the way to receive attention". By deciding on the rules and being the one to enforce them, you are taking that job away from the dogs and preventing them from fighting over who is in charge, especially as the puppy grows. Neither dog should be in charge. You should be in charge. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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