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

Most Recommended
4 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

Effective
1 Vote
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

Least Recommended
1 Vote
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 and Success Stories

Question
Max
Miniature Goldendoodle
4 Years
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Question
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Max
Miniature Goldendoodle
4 Years

My son adopted a rescue puppy who is 3 months and is a German shepherd mix. When I introduce the puppy to Max, she wants to play but she is nipping at his feet and ears and body constantly. I try to let Max correct her, but she gets more rough with him and snarling and growling at him with her hair raised up on her back. I do step in and separate the dogs. I like for them to be able to be in the same room without Max being terrorized by the puppy.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
690 Dog owners recommended

Hello Pat, First, I highly suggest crate training the puppy. Use the Surprise method from the article linked below to gradually help her learn to be calm in the crate and to relax by using rewards for being Quiet. 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. For the biting, I recommend teaching pup Out and Leave It. 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 Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Arwen
Mixed
8 Months
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Question
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Arwen
Mixed
8 Months

Hi there - i’ve the friendliest wee lab in the world who is 6 years old , ultimate mummys boy but will play with anyone and no reasource guarding of food toys or me however we recently adopted a romanian rescue and sometimes my lab wont pass her because she still mouths him to get him to play which he’s not interested in (he only plays tug of war with her) she’s also a sore loser - if he gets the ball before her or wins the toy she barks and jumps all over him... any suggestions

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
690 Dog owners recommended

Hello Melissa, First, I recommend teaching the dogs to "honor" each others retrievals - which is when one dog is taught to sit and watch and wait while the other retrieves a toy, until its there turn. This is something commonly taught to hunting dogs since they need to only retrieve their person's ducks and not someone else's from the hunting group. I would play fetch letting the dogs take turns instead of compete for the same ball - since both dogs will be highly aroused while chasing the ball down, and arousal makes dogs feel more aggressive. Practicing the waiting with the chasing turns can help both dogs learn better self-control. I recommend teaching both dogs Out and Leave It, and using those commands to enforce Arwin leaving your lab alone when it comes to the biting, and when your lab tries to go toward Arwin when they get the ball first. 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 Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Myla
American Bulldog
8 Weeks
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Question
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Myla
American Bulldog
8 Weeks

My new puppy has just arrived and is dominating and bullying my 2 year old Shih Tzu. How do i stop this and help them get along so my Shih Tzu isn’t so frightened of the new puppy?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
690 Dog owners recommended

Hello Hollie, 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 her learn to be calm in the crate and to relax by using rewards for being Quiet. 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. Out command: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ 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 she is trying to sleep, tell pup Out. If she obeys, praise and reward her. If she disobeys, stand in front of your older dog, blocking the pup from getting to her, 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 her leave the room while also disciplining pup if needed. Be vigilant and take the pressure off of your older dog - you want her to learn to look to you when there is a problem, and for puppy to learn respect for your older dog because you have taught it to her and not because your older dog has had to resort to aggression. If you want pup to be free but don't want to chase after her while you are home, you can also clip her to yourself using a six-foot leash, so that she 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 she is calm, relaxed or tolerant of puppy also give her a treat. Try not to let puppy see you rewarding her though so that she doesn’t run over and overwhelm her. Right now your older dog probably feels overwhelmed by pup and because of her age it’s harder for her to handle her and keep up with her energy. She needs to feel like you are the one managing puppy, protecting your older dog from her pestering her, and making her appearance pleasant for your older dog. If you can take the pressure off of their relationship and help their interactions to be calmer, then she may adjust to puppy's presence as she grows, especially when he calms down when older. Don’t expect them to be best friends. The goal right now is calm, peaceful coexistence. They may end up bonding and enjoy each others company as adults later, but they don’t have to play or be thrilled right now. I find that about half of all older dogs find new puppies stressful at first. Many do adjust as puppy matures though and may even become buddies - you have to add structure and boundaries to help their relationship be calmer and not force interactions though. I would also recommend enrolling puppy in a puppy kindergarten class that has time for moderated, off-leash play with other puppies to help pup learn how to control the pressure of their mouth (best learned during play with other puppies), and socialization. If you have friends with puppies you could also go to each other's fenced yard and set up play dates with them. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Murphy
Weimaraner
6 Months
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Question
0 found helpful
Murphy
Weimaraner
6 Months

Photos are a rare occurrence! My older boy Monty (11) is my soul mate and has always been glued to my side. Murphy now wants to push in between us and won’t leave Monty alone when he’s near me. Worst is when I work at the kitchen table and Montysits by my side. Murphy just barks and dries and pushes and then bites my arms to get attention and stop me loving Monty. If I put him in time out or in his crate he just screams lie murder!
An6 ideas?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
690 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sarah, First, I recommend spending thirty minutes a day having a training session for Murphy where you work on teaching the following commands in the coming weeks. These are good commands for building self-control, respect and trust for you, calmness, and give you a way to direct pup where he should and shouldn't be. Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Working and Consistency methods: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Quiet - Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Out - which means leave the area https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It - leave it method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite When pup is being pushy, send them to Place or use the Out command. Enforce that command very calmly, confidently, but firmly - pup will be trying to get a reaction out of you because they probably find it fun. Calmly insist on follow- through, keeping a drag leash on pup while home if you find you need it to direct pup to Place or out of the room. Once pup is out of the area, or when pup needs to be crated, if they are barking in protest, calmly tell pup Quiet and briefly spray a small puff of air from an unscented air canister called a Pet convincer at pup's side. You may need to tether pup to something with a leash that's long enough to remain on place comfortable, without giving tension on the leash unless they leave place, when its time for pup to give space and they haven't learned a long place command quiet yet. Just as important as the boundaries and corrections is rewarding the right behavior. Have pup work for what they get in life by doing a command before you give them something - like Sit before petting, Down before a game of fetch, heel during walks, ect...When you catch pup doing something polite on their own, like lying on Place quietly, tolerating Monty getting petted without coming over, ect...Calmly place a treat between pup's front paws. Pup needs boundaries, better communication, and rewards for doing the right behavior to help them feel more secure, respect you more, and understand the rules of the family - but remember that pup is young and still learning. This age is essentially puppy teenage-hood so take comfort and compassion in that too. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Nova and Loki
pitbull
7 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Nova and Loki
pitbull
7 Months

Hello!
My SO and I have two pitbull puppies, one is almost 8 months and the other is almost 5 months. The older one, Nova, is the sweetest girl ever. Nova would cry of excitement when she saw other dogs and people. All Nova wanted was a friend, so when her half brother was born we decided to go for it. Loki (the younger brother) was, unbeknownst to us, separated from his mom very, very early. He never really had the chance to learn puppy etiquette. Loki is super sweet as well, but he has bitten Nova numerous times even to the point of scarring. Nova is so sweet she doesn’t ever correct him, and we know he doesn’t mean to hurt her, but it is worrisome. Nova won’t even whimper and then later we find she has gouges in her skin.
We just want the best for our two babies, and we don’t want them hurting each other, so if someone has any advice it is welcome.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
690 Dog owners recommended

Hello, If you have any friends with older puppies, whose play you can moderate, I would have supervised playdates where you can moderate their play, separate when they get too excited or one pup needs a break, practice a couple of obedience commands, let the more timid pup go first to see if they still want to play, and then let the other pups go too. Puppies learn bite inhibition best from each other before six months of age - don't want! They will often give each other feedback when something is too hard or stop the game, helping the other pups learn to adjust and be more gentle. You will need to help that process a lot by giving breaks if your pup or another is too rough too. With your own dogs, work on teaching your puppy the Leave It and Out commands, and use those commands to be the one to tell pup when they are being too rough with the older dog, and make pup take a break, calm down through some obedience practice with treats, then allow play to resume if your older dog wants it, once pup has calmed back down. Out - which means leave the area https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It - leave it method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s I suggest tethering pup to you with a hands free leash when you can't moderate their play and interactions, and using an exercise pen with dog food stuffed chew toys for the younger puppy to give your older dog a break at times too - puppies tend to need a calm down time when they get especially rough because they are actually overtired. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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