Twelve-year-old Cockerpoo Charlie has become increasingly agitated around the puppy as each day goes by.

Fortunately the 11-week old puppy is resilient. He’s a Cavapoochon.

They have chosen to get a puppy at this time because the daughter is home from uni and has time to dedicate herself to settling him in.

Increasingly stressed and agitated

What they hadn’t anticipated was how agitated Charlie would become.

There will be sacrifices to make. The girl will be putting in a lot of effort for at least the next few days as she works on Charlie so that he becomes less agitated.

I believe things will then start to come right.

The problem came to a head a couple of days ago. At the same time, for some reason Dougie, who had been sleeping happily in his crate downstairs alone, woke crying in the night. (The girl had begun by sleeping downstairs with him before weaning him into being happy alone and going back to her bed).

Charlie heard the crying from upstairs and, agitated and aroused, he barked and scratched at the bedroom door to get to Dougie.

He just can’t leave puppy alone now. He jumps on him. He barks at him. When Dougie is in the pen, he flies at the pen, pawing at it and barking.

Yesterday he bit the puppy on his back.

Controlled encounters

Had I been involved in this from the start, I would have only had them together in a controlled fashion. I believe in weaning a new puppy into a relationship with the existing dog as gradually as necessary. The older dog dictates the speed.

Now the people are simply trying to manage a situation. This is hard with only one of them at home during the day to keep dogs apart, whilst also giving puppy the company he needs. Poor agitated Charlie has always followed them around the house so can’t be left alone.

Understandably they don’t want puppy to be shut away in his pen in another room for long.

Now they will move the pen into a room they themselves can be in and they will work on Charlie. Not only concentrating on getting his general arousal levels down so that, less agitated, he’s able to cope better, but also teaching him that the puppy is the trigger for good things happening.

They will teach him how to behave near puppy with both dogs restrained either on lead or puppy in the pen (they will use a click or word the Yes for this, and food).

The first few days will be difficult.

The daughter will now get up earlier so that she can get puppy Dougie’s toileting done before Charlie comes downstairs and chaos hits. Puppy can then go into his pen for a little while with his breakfast in a Kong to keep him busy and mum can bring Charlie downstairs before work.

I suggest Charlie now trails a lead in the house; I also suggest they use zero tolerance for charging at the pen – no further rehearsal. This however means no scolding. It means immediately calling him away – taking the lead and guiding him in a bright and encouraging voice.

Then sprinkle food.

They need to catch Charlie’s agitated rush at Dougie or at his pen as soon as he starts, before his arousal levels rise to a pitch where he won’t even hear them.

Joint activities

Now they can look at ways for the two dogs to be together, occupied and happy.

I suggest giving them activities that they can share. With their food sprinkled all over the grass, they can go on a joint ‘hunt’. Most dogs love this.

Also, with both dogs either on leads to prevent any trouble or with Dougie in his pen, the two can excavate Kongs together. They can do the same with chews.

The poor daughter will have a tough few first days.

She will be getting up earlier and while mum is at work will implement ways of preventing any more rehearsal of the undesired behaviour. She will do all she can to prevent Charlie becoming aroused and agitated.

The girl will continue to sleep downstairs until Charlie can happily and calmly be near to Dougie. Then Dougie’s crate can be moved into the bedroom with Charlie.

The daughter can then go back to her own bed, get up a bit later and have a bit more time to herself during the day!

A week later: “Your advice made a huge difference, and we are so grateful – it really improved everything for the two of them from the first.”

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ and is always written with permission of the client. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog it can do more harm than good. Click here for help