How to Train a Puppy to Respect an Older Dog

Medium
2-4 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Sammy is a 12-year-old black Lab that is starting to feel her age. She used to go for long runs with her mistress, but now she can’t keep up anymore. She is achy from arthritis and has lost a lot of muscle tone. Sammy's owner decides to bring home a new puppy so she can have company and protection on her morning runs. The new puppy, a German Shepherd named Mack, is adorable and energetic, but from Sammy’s perspective, disruptive, annoying, and disrespectful of personal space! Mack is constantly jumping on Sammy, chewing on her ears, nudging, licking and otherwise being a pain. 

Sammy is not impressed, at first she would get up and walk away, but lately, she has started growling at Mack. Sammy's owner has taken a lot of time to ensure both dogs get lots of attention and Sammy does not seem to be jealous, as much as she seems to be in need of peace and quiet when she wants it. Before this escalates any further Sammy’s owner needs to teach her new puppy to respect her older dog.

Defining Tasks

Introducing a new puppy to your pet family, when it already contains an older dog, can be a bit of a rocky road, especially if your older dog doesn't have the energy or the inclination to keep up with his little sibling. Sometimes pet owners misconstrue the interaction between their new puppy and their older dog, becoming alarmed when the older dog corrects the new puppy to set boundaries and enforce respect. If you reprimand your older dog because you misinterpret his behavior for being mean or jealous, when he is just teaching your new pup some manners, you can, in fact, create a problem, where the new puppy does not respect boundaries of other pets in the home. 

Often, allowing an older dog to establish respect themselves can resolve the issue, however, if your older dog is unable to exert himself or the new puppy is particularly boisterous, you may need to step in and train your puppy appropriate behavior with your older dog. Often, draining your new pup's energy by providing lots of play and exercise can help to control his behavior around your senior dog. Limiting access between the dogs with crates or barriers can also help establish boundaries. You should not punish your puppy for exhibiting boisterous, playful behavior--this is natural for puppies and punishing natural behaviors will only confuse your new puppy and create anxiety. Instead, limiting, correcting and redirecting playful behavior around your older dog, to establish personal space, boundaries, and respect will be more effective and provide a peaceful, comfortable environment for both your old friend and your new one

Getting Started

You will need to dedicate time to both your older dog and your new puppy in order to meet each dog's needs--your older dog’s need for quiet and your younger dog's need for activity.  Remember, you need to be the leader and not allow either of your dogs to take over this role, which can create an imbalance in the pack dynamic, resulting in a lack of respect for either of your dogs. This will require time, patience and confidence. Make sure you have lots of toys and treats to redirect your young dog, and establish a quiet retreat for your older dog where he will not be disturbed or harassed by a puppy demanding attention.

The Pack Leader Method

Effective
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Step
1
Teach obedience
You need to be the pack leader to enforce that all pack members treat each other with respect and everyone's needs are met. Work with both your older dog to review obedience commands, and your new puppy to establish obedience commands like 'sit', 'stay', 'come' and 'down'.
Step
2
Provide exercise
Exercise your new puppy...lots. Burn off as much of his playful energy as possible with walks and outdoor or indoor play so he does not irritate your older dog with demands for play and roughhousing. When possible, include your older dog in walks to establish a pack mentality for both dogs, with you as leader.
Step
3
Engage mind
Work your new puppy's mind. Give him puzzle feeders and interactive toys. Teach him tricks and reward with treats, reduce regular feed accordingly if lots of treats are being used. Give your young dog a job to do that matches his breeding. Is he a scent hound? Teach him to track. A herding dog? Let him herd small animals if possible. A pulling dog? Teach him mushing commands and to pull a drag. Keep your puppy occupied until he is old enough to work, practice agility, or whatever suits his breed and nature.
Step
4
Do not allow dominance
Do not allow either dog to overstep their bounds with regard to position in the pack. Older dogs can correct behavior towards themselves but do not need to exert influence over your puppy's other behaviors such as playing with other pets or household activities. Young puppies should not be allowed to continuously pester older dogs with demands for attention and play. Do not sympathize with one dog over another when correcting behavior, treat both equally, correct dominant behavior. An older dog should be able to defend his boundaries but not to “rule” over the younger dog and vice versa.
Step
5
Allow play
Do not interfere in play and roughhousing behavior where both dogs are engaged. Sometimes play may look aggressive, with mouthing and growling, but learn to distinguish between annoyance and aggression and playful behavior where both parties are willing participants. Allow dogs to share toys when playing but do not allow toys or bones to be owned by one dog or the other, as the owner/pack leader you should own all toys. However, when one dog has a toy, the other dog should not be allowed to take it. If this occurs, correct the dog who is transgressing and remove the toy.
Recommend training method?

The Correct Manners Method

Effective
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Step
1
Provide a safe place
Set up an quiet area for your older dog with a blanket or bed in an out of the way place where your older dog is comfortable.
Step
2
Supervise
Supervise and intervene to correct behavior if the puppy wants to play and the older dog is trying to avoid him.
Step
3
Seperate
If the puppy is demanding attention that the older dog doesn't want to, or is not able to, provide, step in between your older dog and your puppy. Direct your older dog to his quiet place and distract your puppy by taking him to another part of the house and providing him with a toy.
Step
4
Enforce seperation
If puppy is still bugging the older dog, separate them. Use a crate to contain your puppy, or set up pet barriers or gates to either contain the puppy, protect the older dog, or block off certain rooms.
Step
5
Socialize
Give your puppy access to dogs the same age or slightly older than him. Allow play so that your puppy learns socialization from other dogs with similar energy levels to himself.
Recommend training method?

The Reinforce Respect Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Reduce energy
Exercise and play with your pup to burn off some energy then bring pup on a leash near your older dog.
Step
2
Distract from older dog
When your pup notices your older dog, distract your puppy. Make a funny noise and call your puppy over. Ask him to sit or lie down and ignore the older dog.
Step
3
Reinforce respectful behavior
When your puppy sits, give him a treat. If you are using a clicker to mark behaviors, click to mark ignoring the older dog or say “yes”.
Step
4
Distract and reward
Bring out a toy and initiate a tug of war game. Remove toy and repeat previous steps. Repeat for about three games of tug of war for three sessions per day in sessions about 5 minutes long.
Step
5
Establish ignore behavior
Gradually increase the amount of time your puppy needs to ignore the older dog before getting a reward and play.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Jack
Lurcher (mongrel)
8 Years
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Jack
Lurcher (mongrel)
8 Years

My dog jack is 8 (almost 9) and we are thinking of getting another dog. He has always lived with another dog until about a year ago. The dog we have fallen in love with is a rescue bull breed cross. He is 8 months old and upon meeting jack, he was trying to get him to play by jumping on him. Eddie (the puppy) is quite large and jack is snapping at him trying to get him to stop. How can we resolve this so we can feel safe introducing them offlead at some point?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
154 Dog owners recommended

Hello Keira, In this scenario the puppy is actually more than half the problem. When a dog jumps on a dog that has not indicated that it wants to play, the jumper is being rude and not responding to canine social cues. Be an advocate for your older dog and work on boundaries with the puppy so that Jack feels like he can relax around the puppy. Don't necessarily expect Jack to play with the puppy. He may never want to play with him and that's okay as long as they can peacefully coexist and simply enjoy each other's company. Work on obedience and structure with both dogs to help them listen and respect you and not compete with each other. If both dogs respect you and you make and enforce the rules then they don't have to - which can help prevent fights. Teach both dogs (especially the puppy) "Out" (which means leave the area). Use the command to let the puppy know when he should get out of Jack's space. Get in front of the puppy, point to where he should go, tell him "Out" and firmly but calmly walk toward him, making him back out of the area. Block him from going back until he gives up trying to get back there or leaves the area completely. When he gives up, return to the area yourself to see if he follows you. If he follows you, tell him "Ah Ah" and walk him out of the area again. Repeat this until he stops following you back in. When you want him to come back, tell him "Okay!". Doing out communicates that you want a dog to respect a certain space that belongs to you. It also tells them that a certain thing belongs to you and they should respect that also (a child or another dog typically). You can use "Out" for Jack too when he is behaving poorly toward the puppy. When Jack is being tolerant, give him treats (not right next to the puppy though because you want to avoid competing for food). When the puppy enters the room, feed Jack treats. When the puppy leaves the room, all treats stop - you want the treats to be associated with the puppy. Supervise the dogs and make sure they both have their own space. Crate training at least the puppy will help with that a lot. I also suggest teaching both dogs a good Place command so that they can simply get used to being in the same room with each other but be relaxing. Place can also help with self-control (for puppy), respect and calmness. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo#dialog Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Lucky
Labrador Retriever
9 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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Lucky
Labrador Retriever
9 Months

My method of attempting to get Lucky to stop bugging my chihuahua is when he does bark, I rush down and block him from the chihuahua. He now barks not only out the window (I have made some progress with him barking out the window), but he barks aimlessly, as in, he doesn't bark at anything, just makes a bark sound.

Is my method of blocking him from my chihuahua effective? I would like to try a positive reinforcement way, and a way that I can train him in advance instead of when he actually barks for my chihuahua.

I can't tell if this is boredom barking or barking for another dogs' attention, because either way, my chihuahua usually rushes down if she hears ANY dog bark. And talking about that,

I brought my chihuahua to the local dog park, and as expected, dogs started barking back and forth. If I could get my chihuahua to get along with other dogs and people (not the jumpy type like Lucky), I would be so grateful to have her at least keep her calm around strangers and other dogs, especially Lucky.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
154 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kien, It sounds like Lucky is bored and making up games to get attention. Since he's not allowed to bark out the window he is simply doing the same thing in a different location to get her attention. I suggest teaching him the "Quiet" command, rewarding him whenever you catch him playing calmly and nicely (and being quiet), and giving him something else to do besides bark. An AutoTrainer or Pet Tutor could be a good investment for him. It works by releasing a treat when it senses he is calm or quiet for a certain amount of time. You can also feed him his meals in food stuffed chew toys like Kong's, Kong wobble toys, or puzzle toys. Finally, you can correct the barking with a remote training device and collar like I mentioned in you last question about barking at dinner. To get Sweet Pea used to other dogs will be a long process honestly but it is doable if you are willing to put in a lot of work. Socialization is typically done while dogs are still puppies and haven't developed fear. It would involve taking her places with other dogs, rewarding her with her favorite treats, toys, and games whenever she sees another dog and stays calm (while the dog is far enough away for her to stay calm). I would also suggest practing a lot of obedience with her with dogs in the distance (such as heel, sit, watch me, and come) and rewarding her for obedience and focus. The training will keep her mind on you and get her in a following made with you so that she can trust you more and relax more. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Bella
Daisy Dog
9 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Bella
Daisy Dog
9 Years

We added two 11 week old litter mates to the house 5 weeks ago. They are showing pack behavior toward the older dog who has become fearful and aggressive toward them. Help.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
154 Dog owners recommended

Hello Diane, I suggest that you hire a professional trainer who uses both fair corrections and positive reinforcement to come to your home. The new puppies likely generally need more structure and boundaries. All dogs need to look to you to make and enforce the rules, so that none of them will bully another dog. Right now they are likely vying for who is going to be in charge, and if the older dog is generally more timid personality-wise, then the puppies are probably taking advantage of that and finding it fun to pester the older dog. Puppies also just tend to be obsessed with older dogs and have not learned doggie manners yet. Following an older dog around and constantly trying to wrestle and play is normal - especially when that dog won't pay attention to them. That doesn't mean that it should continue but they are probably doing what comes naturally to them when there is a lack of boundaries to teach them otherwise. They need to be taught those manners by you so that your older dog doesn't have to use aggression to teach them. Once you are enforcing the rules, rewarding your older dog for being tolerant and calm, and giving the dogs more time apart, your older dog will likely begin to relax more. If not, you need someone to help you in person because the trainer will need to evaluate the dog's body language and interactions to see what's really going on. To start, crate train the puppies if you have not already done so. They need a calm place by themselves where they can chew on food-stuffed chew toys and relax. This is important. It is also important that they spend time alone to teach them to self-entertain and self-soothe, rather than be completely reliant on you or the other puppy's presence. Fill a hollow chew toy like a Kong with dog food that has been soaked in water until mushy, and mixed the food with a bit of liver paste, cheese or peanut butter (Avoid Xylitol sweetener -- it's toxic!). You can make several of these toys ahead of time and refrigerate or freeze them. They can even eat all of their daily food out of the Kongs and as treat rewards for obedience, and you do not have to use food bowls at all at this age. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Decide what your household rules for all dogs will be. Some examples are: "No pestering a dog that wants to be left alone", "No stealing another dog's food or toys", "No pushing another dog out of the way - usually to get food or attention", "No blocking another dog from getting to a space", "No claiming you by standing on your lap and acting aggressively or pushy towards another person or dog", "No acting possessive of furniture and keeping another dog from coming over", "No acting aggressive toward another dog or person", "No barking at another dog when he wants to be left alone". When one dog breaks a rule, you be the one to handle it so that the other dog does not have to. For example, if one dog steals another dog's toy, take the toy away from the thief, return it to the dog that originally had it, and make the thief leave the room. If one dog is trying to sneak over to another dog's food while he is eating (Do not free feed the dogs! - all food should be removed after fifteen minutes unless a dog is eating in the crate where another dog cannot bother him), then get in front of the sneaky thief, tell him "Out", point to where the dog should go, and walk toward him until he leaves the area. If he does not move when you say "Out" and start walking, don't be afraid to move him with your legs by walking toward him. Leaving is not optional for the dog. Shuffle your feet rather than lift them if you end up having to walk into him, so that you do not step on him while moving. When he is out of the area, block him from going back over to the other dog -- pretend like you are a soccer goalie or a brick wall. When the dog stops trying to get past you, return to the dog that's eating to see if the thief tries to follow you back. If he follows you, then repeat walking toward him until he leaves again. Repeat this process until you can stand next to the dog that's eating or leave the room, and the thief stays out of that area - away from the eating dog. When you are ready for the dog to go back into the area you told him to leave, then tell him "Okay!" in an excited tone of voice. You can use the "Out" command to teach the dogs to respect each other's space in other ways too. When one dog is bothering another dog, tell the problematic dog "Out!" in a firm but calm tone of voice, and enforce it like you did with the eating dog above. I also suggest teaching the puppies "Place" and practicing them each having a visible, consistent "Place" spot that they can go to and lay on with a toy and stay there. Finally, don't expect the older dog to play with the puppies. The goal here is peaceful co-existence. When the puppies are older and there have been more boundaries and less anxiety, the older dog might decide that she wants to play, but if that never happens and the dogs can peacefully hang around one another, that is still great. Older dogs and puppies play very differently, so not all older dogs will want to play with puppies. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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