Older Dog and New Puppy. Aggression to Puppy.

Older dog and new puppy don't get on

Pepe

Older dog and new puppy can’t be together.

Frenchie Pepe, now four years old, is not getting on with the new puppy. This isn’t so surprising seeing as he doesn’t like dogs in general. The only dog he’s okay with is their Shitzu, Daisy, who is now eleven years old and was already in the household before Pepe arrived as a puppy himself.

He was fine until he had a heart operation that has left him unable to go for walks. He’s become increasingly hostile to dogs on the few occasions he has been out, and spends hours each day chasing them away from his house from an upstairs window by barking.

Not a good lesson for a puppy.

Poor little Zeeva, a Boston Terrier now twelve weeks old, is getting some very negative behaviour from both older dogs. Older Daisy just wants to be left alone and shows her teeth whenever she is close. Pepe gets fierce with her, jumps on her and pins her down by the neck.

This sort of thing is likely to lead to Zeeva herself becoming a dog that doesn’t trust other dogs.

So the puppy is now mostly kept the other side of a closed door.

It’s an active household. People come and go all the time and three generations of family members live there including children. Pepe is very chilled with humans. They are a lovely family all working together for the best for their three dogs and the children have been taught to treat them with respect which is wonderful to see.

It’s just such a shame that the older dog and new puppy have to be kept apart.

Jealous.

Another problem for Pepe is that puppy Zeeva usurps his position on the lady’s lap in the evening! This is the only way they can have Zeeva in the same room as Pepe.

Zeeva

Jealousy is a horrible feeling and dogs I’m sure feel it too. It can’t help Pepe’s antagonism towards her at all. Now if Pepe comes to the lady and Zeeva is on her lap, she will try either feeding him to build up some good associations or passing Zeeva to someone else.

The first job is to make Pepe as ‘fit’ as possible for the job – lowering his stress levels, optimising his diet and giving his life more enrichment.

Unable to go for walks, his days lack interest despite having so many humans around him. He needs to sniff, do dog things and see the wider world. They will now be taking him out the front on a longish lead and allow him to watch the world go by. This will be an opportunity to sniff where other dogs have peed. They can begin to change his behaviour towards passing dogs near the bolthole of an open front door.

For a dog that does very little he undoubtedly eats too much and some of it is the wrong stuff for the best mental state. He can now start working for food by foraging for it around the garden or getting it from a Kong Wobbler.

So, work involves getting Pepe to feel better about dogs in general and most particularly to ‘like’ Zeeva. We have a plan that can be modified if necessary as we go along.

Playing safe and preventing further rehearsal.

The most important thing when you have an older dog showing aggression towards a puppy is to play safe. In every way to prevent further rehearsal. It’s harder to come back from things once they have happened as they are likely to happen again. The three dogs had been out together briefly when supervised in the garden, but now Zeeva will be on lead. Currently they are relying upon calling her to them but that’s risky. With no leash they have no reliable control.

Many people would have the older dog on lead, but I feel it should be the puppy. She is the one, after all, who needs to be prevented from annoying the older dogs and the one who may need to be scooped up quickly.

For a few days they will keep bars of the dog gate or puppy pen between the Zeeva and Pepe. They had been shutting the door but this removes any safe, supervised opportunity for them to get to know each other.

Older dog and new puppy with bars between them.

Sitting down on the floor with the older dog and new puppy in the puppy pen, they will do two things, using a clicker. They will reinforce Pepe for looking towards the puppy in a soft or interested way – with chicken. If he’s ‘eyeballing’ in a harder kind of way (they understand!) they will wait for Pepe to look away briefly and immediately reinforce. To begin with they may need to make a small distracting sound to achieve this.

Daisy

Zeeva should be fed also in order to feel Pepe isn’t so bad after all.

I feel that we humans need to keep ourselves out of the picture in these situations. It’s about the dogs, their emotions and the food. If we bombard them with words it confuses things.

The time should come when they don’t need bars between them. Keeva on lead and other dogs loose, they can be together in the sitting room. It would be best when puppy Keeva is tired! They need two people, one to hold the lead and the other to work on Pepe.

Who knows how long it will take before all three dogs to be freely together? I’m sure they will get there if they take it slowly enough and help Pepe in a positive way, never scolding.

A photo received about five weeks later:

 

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle with maybe a bit of poetic licence. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approaches I have worked out for Pepe, Zeeva and Daisy. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good as the case needs to be assessed correctly. One size does not fit all so accurate assessment is important, particularly where aggression of any kind is involved. Everything depends upon context. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies tailored to your own dog (see my Help page).

 

Cocker Spaniel Growls at the Puppy

As Flo becomes more tolerant of young Wilson they can spend more time together

Flo and Wilson

I was called out because, as the people interpretted it, three-year-old Blue Roan Cocker Flo was ‘aggressive to puppy Wilson because he wouldn’t leave her alone and kept wanting to play with her’.

The situation was different to what I expected. Dear little 4 1/2 month Wilson was frequently going to Flo in a polite, appeasing ‘I want to be friends with you’ sort of way, making himself low and licking her face. Every time he does this, Flo growls. Flo simply seems not to want her personal space invaded or to be interfered with by Wilson, who simply aches to interact with her.

As time went on I gradually got more clues. Flo is a bit like this with people also.

She gets everything she wants on demand. She paws insistently. ‘What do you want now, Flo?’ and they cast about seeing how they can satisfy her. She won’t eat her food when given it, only when later  its produced as a result of the pawing. Unless slightly intimidated by a loud command, she doesn’t very readily do anything that is asked of her; she has learnt that interaction is under her own terms. She can be nervous which is hardly surprising.

Flo’s life has changed a lot since the arrival of Wilson a couple of months ago. Her food no longer can be left down all the time, she isn’t hand fed any more, Wilson has taken over her bed and her walks have to include a playful puppy. She can’t now even go outside to toilet in peace (this can be rectifed straight away).

Growls at the puppy

To add to the problem, they have been so keen for the two to get on that they have been trying to force her to accept Wilson. She is scolded for growling and Wilson is told off for pestering her. They have even used a water spray. The gentleman is jovial and quite noisy, and when he shouts ‘leave it’ at the puppy or ‘Oi, that’s enough’ or ‘bed’ to Flo, he doesn’t mean to intimidate them but he realises that he does.  Just as with dogs’ behaviour we need to take breed characteristics into consideration, we need to take into consideration human personalities also and work with them! I found both dogs reacted instantly to a soft request followed by reward.

Sleeping Cocker pup

Wilson

I have advised keeping the two dogs apart for now unless closely supervised, both indoors and in the garden, reinforcing and marking all good interaction. Wilson being calm near Flo or lying down quietly by her deserves a silent food reward. Flo, quiet when Winston aproaches her, deserves a silent food reward. No scolding. If Flo’s not happy, Winston can be called away and given something else to do.  As she becomes more tolerant they can spend more time together. Slowly slowly catchee monkey!

Flo needs the security of consistent rules and boundaries and relief from the burden of decision-making. Another saying: ‘Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown’. She should then relax and open up to Winston who really is a very self-controlled puppy.

The more Flo has been forced, the more defensive she has understandably become. Her growling is merely saying, ‘please keep away, I don’t want your attention’. How else can she convey this? We expect our dogs, in silence, to put up with so much more than we would tolerate ourselves. Ignored or scolded for trying to be understood, it’s quite surprising in the circumstances that Flo has remained so patient.

It’s not the growling itself that needs dealing with – but the cause of the growling.

If Flo is ‘helped’ through this and it is treated sensitively and given time, I am sure the two will end up the best of friends.

Starting Off Right With a New Puppy

Nine week old Tibetan TerrierYesterday I visited nine-week-old Tibetan Terrier Molly’s new home just a couple of hours after she arrived. The couple want to do all they can to start off the right way with their gorgeous little ball of black fluff.

We were able to work out the best place in the house for her to spend most of her time – somewhere she can easily get to the door leading to the garden and somewhere that her inevitable toileting mishaps won’t spoil the carpet.

We worked out where she would sleep at night-time. They are using a crate. Molly has never been all alone before and we want her to feel secure. It is a lot better to give a puppy company to start with and gradually wean her into independence, rather than to force her into hours of solitude, howling for company. This can easily then lead to panic whenever she is left alone.

From the start she needs to be shown that use of teeth and mouthing isn’t welcome, but in a fair and kind way that a puppy understands and without scolding. She needs to be gently discouraged from jumping up. She is already grabbing trousers and feet, so playing chase games will only encourage this. It’s important she’s not taught through play the very things they don’t want her to do.

I gave them tips I have gathered for successful toilet training including some that people don’t think of, like if the dog is always carried outside she will find it harder to learn to walk to the right place herself; like when praise is lavished on her for ‘going’, she might think this is for the act itself rather than for going outside.

It’s important to give her quiet times in their company without too much fussing and to take no notice of her sometimes so she learns independence and self-confidence; to teach her what behaviours are NOT wanted by showing her instead what IS wanted – ‘come away – good girl – do this instead’.

We discussed the best food for Molly. Cheap food is false economy. Her little body and bones will thrive best on good nutrition, and it can affect her behaviour as well.

Finally, the next few weeks are crucial for introducing her to people, children, cars, bikes, vacuum cleaners and so on in a careful way so that she grows up to be a confident dog. Her early experiences need to be positive ones. They should not let friends and family overwhelm her with lots of excited noise, too much picking up and especially teasing. They should keep calm, allow her to sniff them and explore them, and if they have to pick her up to do so gently. Don’t allow children to get too excited or noisy.

In a couple of weeks I shall be going again.

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.