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 Reinforce Respect Method

ribbon-method-3
Most Recommended
6 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?

The Pack Leader Method

ribbon-method-1
Effective
7 Votes
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

ribbon-method-2
Least Recommended
5 Votes
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?
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Written by Laurie Haggart

Published: 03/07/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Daisy
Golden Retriever
11 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Daisy
Golden Retriever
11 Weeks

i got daisy (right) about a week ago for my older girl mia (left). daisy has been biting mia and everyone in my house non stop. her energy levels are crazy high and she can barely calm down. yesterday she ripped a chunk of hair out of mia’s ear, but mia doesnt correct her. what should i do?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1125 Dog owners recommended

Hello Gabby, First, I highly suggest crate training the puppy. Almost all puppies will cry the first two weeks of crate training - it is new to them and they have to be given the opportunity to learn to self-sooth and self-entertain to prepare them for environments they will have to be in later and prevent dangerous destructive chewing habits that happen without confinement. Use the Surprise method from the article linked below to gradually help pup learn to be calm in the crate and to relax by using rewards for being Quiet if pup isn't already used to the crate. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Crate pup at night and when you leave, and you can use an exercise pen with some toys in it also. When you cannot directly supervise the dogs together, puppy should be crated or in the pen. When you are supervising, teach both dogs the Out command (which means leave the area) and make whoever is causing issues leave the area as needed (which will be mostly puppy at this age). Out command: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ I also recommend teaching Leave It. Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Decide what your house rules are for both dogs and you be the one to enforce the rules instead of the dogs. No aggression, no pushiness, no stealing toys, no stealing food, no being possessive of people or things, or any other unwanted behavior - if one dog is causing a problem you be the one to enforce the rules so that the dogs are NOT working it out themselves. For example, if pup comes over to your older dog when they are trying to sleep, tell pup Out. If puppy obeys, praise and reward them. If puppy disobeys, stand in front of your older dog, blocking the pup from getting to them, and walk toward pup calmly but firmly until pup leaves the area and stops trying to go back to your older dog. If your older dog growls at your pup, make your older dog leave the room while also disciplining pup by having them leave the area too if needed. Be vigilant and take the pressure off of your older dog - you want puppy to learn respect for your older dog because you have taught it to pup and not because your older dog has had to resort to aggression or has to hide all the time. If you want pup to be free but don't want to chase after them while you are home, you can also clip them to yourself using a six-foot leash, so that pup has to stay near you and not wander near your other dog. Whenever puppy enters the room, give your older dog a treat while pup is not looking. Whenever they are calm, relaxed or tolerant of puppy also give them a treat. Try not to let the puppy see you rewarding them though so that they don’t run over and overwhelm your older dog. Right now your older dog probably feels overwhelmed by the puppy and because of pup's age it’s harder for them to handle pup and keep up with their energy. They need to feel like you are the one managing the puppy, protecting them from pup pestering them, and making pup's appearance pleasant for them. If you can take the pressure off of their relationship and help their interactions to be calmer, then they may adjust to pup's presence as pup grows, especially when they calms down when older. Don’t expect them to be best friends. The goal right now is calm, peaceful coexistence. Enrolling pup in a puppy play group, class with play time, or moderated puppy play time with other friends' puppies, can also help pup learn how to control the pressure of their bite and give breaks when another dog indicates they need one. The Out command and Leave It command is also useful when pup bites you. Check out the sections on how to teach Out, How to use out to deal with pushiness, and How to use Out to Help Dogs Get Alone sections especially. Expect all of this to take a couple of months of consistent training and pup maturing to see drastic improvement. Use things like the exercise pen, crate, and hands free leash to help the dogs get along while pup is in the process of learning until then. Those things can also help pup learn how to stick to chewing their own toys, potty train, handle being alone, and learn the house rules. A free PDF E-book AFTER You Get Your Puppy can also be downloaded at the link below if you have any general puppy questions. Since you have an older dog you have likely done the puppy period before though; this might just be a new dynamic with a puppy and older dog together. www.lifedogtraining.com/freedownloads Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Ritza
Spanador
11 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Ritza
Spanador
11 Weeks

She won’t stop attacking our older dog Ruby (almost 15 years old) and is hurting her by jumping on her and biting her (ears and neck) which suck because Ruby has ear problems and she has never been an active dog and with age she can’t now along with the fact that she is a shih tzu so ritza can easily go on top of her and hurt her

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1125 Dog owners recommended

Hello Ava, First, I highly suggest crate training the puppy if you haven't already. Almost all puppies will cry the first two weeks of crate training - it is new to them and they have to be given the opportunity to learn to self-sooth and self-entertain to prepare them for environments they will have to be in later and prevent dangerous destructive chewing habits that happen without confinement. Use the Surprise method from the article linked below to gradually help pup learn to be calm in the crate and to relax by using rewards for being Quiet if pup isn't already used to the crate. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Crate pup at night and when you leave, and you can use an exercise pen with some toys in it also. When you cannot directly supervise the dogs together, puppy should be crated or in the pen or tethered to you with a hands free leash. When you are supervising, teach both dogs the Out command (which means leave the area) and make whoever is causing issues leave the area as needed (which will be mostly puppy at this age). Out command: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ I also recommend teaching Leave It, especially to the puppy. Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Decide what your house rules are for both dogs and you be the one to enforce the rules instead of the dogs. No aggression, no pushiness, no stealing toys, no stealing food, no being possessive of people or things, or any other unwanted behavior - if one dog is causing a problem you be the one to enforce the rules so that the dogs are NOT working it out themselves. For example, if pup comes over to your older dog when they are trying to sleep, tell pup Out. If puppy obeys, praise and reward them. If puppy disobeys, stand in front of your older dog, blocking the pup from getting to them, and walk toward pup calmly but firmly until pup leaves the area and stops trying to go back to your older dog. If your older dog growls at your pup, make your older dog leave the room while also disciplining pup in a similar way by having them leave the area too if they were pestering first. Be vigilant and take the pressure off of your older dog - you want puppy to learn respect for your older dog because you have taught it to pup and not because your older dog has had to resort to aggression or has to hide all the time. You can make most six foot leashes hands free by adding a small carabiner and clipping the handle to your belt loop, or around your waist with a longer leash. Whenever puppy enters the room, give your older dog a treat while pup is not looking. Whenever they are calm, relaxed or tolerant of puppy also give them a treat. Try not to let the puppy see you rewarding them though so that they don’t run over and overwhelm your older dog. Right now your older dog probably feels overwhelmed by the puppy and because of pup's age it’s harder for them to handle pup and keep up with their energy. They need to feel like you are the one managing the puppy, protecting them from pup pestering them, and making pup's appearance pleasant for them. If you can take the pressure off of their relationship and help their interactions to be calmer, then they may adjust to pup's presence as pup grows, especially when they calms down when older. Don’t expect them to be best friends. The goal right now is calm, peaceful coexistence. Enrolling pup in a puppy play group, class with play time, or moderated puppy play time with other friends' puppies, can also help pup learn how to control the pressure of their bite and give breaks when another dog indicates they need one. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Ruby
Goldendoodle
11 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Ruby
Goldendoodle
11 Weeks

We have a 7 year old Shih-tzu(Bella) that Ruby is constantly stalking, bumping/pushing with her butt, putting her head over Bella’s back and mouthing her back. Ruby has grown fast! 3 weeks ago they were the same size. Bella is good about letting Ruby know when she doesn’t like what she is doing. Now that Ruby is bigger than Bella, these behaviors are becoming worse and Ruby is not listening to Bella’s warnings. On the flip side, they do play together peacefully on a daily basis…so there is that. Should we be concerned by thee behaviors or just let them play out?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1125 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jennifer, What you are describing sounds pretty normal, but I would also back up your older dog and teach pup when to give space. I would enroll pup in a puppy kindergarten with time for moderated off-leash play or a play group. Playing with other puppies is usually the best way for a dog to learn doggie social skills like adjusting play style and giving breaks and how to control the pressure of their mouth. Puppies tend to play differently than adult dogs. I recommend teaching pup the Leave It method, the Out command, the Place command, and crate training pup is you haven't already. When pup is getting too rough, your older dog wants to be left alone, or everyone simply needs a break, use those commands to facilitate those behaviors. After teaching Out, pay attention also to the sections on how to use out to deal with pushy behavior and how to use out to help dogs get along. Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Dusty
Mixed breed from Romania
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Dusty
Mixed breed from Romania
1 Year

We rescued Dusty 8 months ago from Romania. We have a 10 year old Jack Russell too. Dusty is very Dominant over him and extremely jealous if he is given attention. This has gradually started ti get worse over the last couple of months, ehere she will, out of nowhere pounce on him with real aggression and bite him. She has nipped him a few times but yesterday actually bit his ear resulting in s vet visit. We can separate them but don't really want to have them live like that. Is there anthing you can suggest?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1125 Dog owners recommended

Hello Pamela, I would hire a professional private trainer to work with you in person for this situation. I would work on desensitizing Dusty to wearing a basket muzzle and keep the dogs separate when you can't supervise, and drag leash and the basket muzzle on Dusty when everyone is together. I would work on building Dusty's respect for you through obedience commands and structure; things like working up to a one hour place command, heeling at your side during walks, being made to leave the area or get off the couch if pup gets pushy or rude, and practicing things like a distance down or sit stay while you play with or pet your other dog, then having the dogs switch who is staying and who is getting attention, so you are making the rules. Because pup drew blood, it's time to hire professional help from a trainer who specializes in behavior issues like aggression though, and take safety measures like a basket muzzle - taking the muzzle off to feed meals in the crate and for sleep in the crate, and make sure pup learns how to drink water with the muzzle on throughout the day alright. Muzzle desensitizing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJTucFnmAbw Gentle respect building: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Heel- Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Come - Reel in method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall Off- section on The Off command: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-train-dog-stay-off-couch/ Drop It – Exchange method: https://wagwalking.com/training/drop-it Watch Me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zeZrOPzO-c Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Cooper
cockapoo
3 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Cooper
cockapoo
3 Months

Hi just replying to a email you sent to me regarding my previous post. Puppy is doing amazing in his crate first two nights we had some crying but after that he has done amazing he also naps in his crate during the day as it gives my older dog space to have a good rest also. I think when I put puppy in his crate he knows its sleep time he is extremely clever we have him 3 weeks now and he gives the paw and sits for us on command. Thank you for all the tips I am going to follow your advice starting from tomorrow. Regards Elizabeth

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1125 Dog owners recommended

Hello Elizabeth, Keep up the good work! I hope you find the tips very helpful and things improve quickly for you. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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