Changing the actions, aptitudes and attitudes of dogs and their people
My Older Dog is Mean To
My New Puppy
Question: James is a 3 year old, neutered male Chihuahua that I've had since he was a puppy. We recently acquired a female Yorkie puppy. James is NOT happy about it. Any suggestions on how to get him used to her?Answer:With a puppy that age, if James is grumbling and growling, even snapping at her, but not actually hurting her, you should leave the relationship alone. He is playing the role of the top dog in the house, and she is a baby puppy that needs to learn about boundaries. Unless James is actually being aggressive, rather than just playing the dominant role (which, of course, can look aggressive), I advise against racing to the puppy's "rescue" or she will not learn important rules of dog society and you can turn her into a spoiled rotten brat. Your interference can also cause issues with James (who needs to feel that he can establish his position with another dog, especially a baby puppy). If he begins to feel that you won't permit him to set boundaries for another dog's actions towards him, he may begin to "go behind your back" and it could become bullying behavior. If the interaction is dangerous (and, you may need to relax and watch to make that determination because James may seem very intense if the puppy isn't being respectful of his position), then correct James for his behavior. If you cannot shut him down, verbally, you may need to touch him to correct him. A correction should not have any negative emotional tags - just correct him, don't be mad at him. If the puppy is being utterly disrespectful of James, the same goes for her. You may correct her. Some puppies were coddled too much as babies and never were exposed to an adult dog's insistence that the puppy knows its place and shows appropriate respect. This is true of dogs that come from breeders who take the mother out of the picture if she begins to growl or snap at the puppies when she is weaning them - as the breeder is afraid the mother will hurt them. The puppies NEED maternal discipline, but inexperienced breeders don't realize that and so they take her out of their lives and then proceeds to spoil them and let them nibble on her hands and all sorts of unacceptable behaviors. I would think that many breeders of toy dogs would never consider "correcting" the puppy for biting on their hands. After all, it doesn't really hurt. That's not the point. If you wouldn't permit a 60 pound dog to do a behavior, you probably shouldn't permit a toy dog to do it, either. People with toy breeds are especially guilty of raising hellions because they do not see the value of discipline for such small dogs. James may be playing an important role in the puppy's overall socialization and development. It may sound harsh, or even look quite unpleasant (especially if the puppy yelps and races off to get some comfort from a human), but it is part of growing up well balanced. Don't coddle the puppy if James corrects her and she sulks. Walk away and ignore her. She will survive and grow up to be a better dog for the experience.