My Older Dog is Aggressive to My New Puppy

I wrote about how I’m feeling overwhelmed with a puppy.

And then I received all these nice comments on how it gets easier and your puppy doesn’t have to be perfect and so on.

Only … my main concern is actually my senior dog Ace!

I’m worried my older dog is being too aggressive with my puppy when resources are involved like his dog bed, toys or … ME.

It’s normal for an adult dog to correct a puppy

Don’t get me wrong, it’s totally normal for an older dog to correct a rambunctious puppy. You can bet the older dog will growl or snarl or even lunge if a puppy is being a pest. This is how a puppy learns it’s rude to jump on a dog’s head while he’s resting, for example.

The older dog shouldn’t be scolded for doing this as long as he’s not physically hurting the puppy.

My older dog is aggressive to my new puppy

(Some puppies will yelp and squeal even if they are not hurt. I don’t react to this.)

It’s the owner’s job to re-direct the puppy away from the older dog

The dog owner needs to make sure to re-direct the puppy from being a pest so the older dog doesn’t have to correct the puppy most of the time. Call it a team effort for setting boundaries.

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Where it gets complicated … resource guarding

My older dog Ace is definitely showing some resource guarding around his bed, toys and, unfortunately, ME.

This is to be expected, to some degree. If a dog is calmly chewing on a bone, he’s going to growl if a puppy barges over to take it. Again, it’s always the owner’s job to manage these interactions.

However, in my opinion, my older dog Ace has crossed a line a couple of times. (And this still falls on me as the owner. Dogs are dogs.)

Older dog attacks new puppy

Should I let my older dog growl at my puppy? Well, in some cases a little growling is good, but my older dog’s aggression to my new puppy is more than what I find acceptable.

One example was when I was sitting on the floor petting Ace and he lunged at my puppy Remy for approaching us.

Ace used teeth on Remy’s head for a second and left marks (no punctures or scratches). Remy squealed and ran away.

I should have seen this coming and blocked Remy because, let’s be honest, he was BARGING his way onto my lap.

However, I thought Ace’s reaction was out of line.

It left me really stressed out about how I’m going to manage future interactions between my older dog and my puppy.

But on the plus side, Remy is totally fine. He’s happy go lucky and resilient. He likes Ace and he is not afraid of Ace in the slightest. They do have positive interactions with each other every day.

My dog Ace with his tennis ball

Other notes about Ace:

  • He has been sick for 7 months and has some pain. He’s also had to wear a cone collar which blocks his vision, hearing and movement.
  • I have seen some minor resource guarding from Ace over the years (Behavioral issues are rarely “out of nowhere.”)
  • Since he’s been sick, Ace has shown increased resource guarding around my cat Beamer, so it’s not just the puppy.

How to stop your older dog from being aggressive to the new puppy

Here are my recommendations for introducing dogs that will be living together.

In our case, these have helped things go as smoothly as possible for managing two dogs of different “generations.” Update: Unfortunately our senior dog has now passed away but the two dogs did learn to get along just fine!

1. Keep dog intros slow between the older dog and the new puppy.

That goes for the initial meeting but also the next couple of days and weeks. Slowly integrate them into each other’s lives. Don’t force them to play, interact, cuddle, pose for photos, etc.

The two dogs may or may not choose to interact naturally, but don’t force them to be best friends.

See my post: How to introduce your dog to a puppy. 

My dogs Ace and Remy!

2. Prevention. Prevention.

Pick up all dog toys, bones, Kongs, food bowls, etc. Don’t give them opportunities to fight or guard these items. It’s wise not to sit on the ground petting one dog if there is any risk of “guarding” like my example with Ace. Use gates, crates and leashes as needed.

3. Re-direct the puppy away from your older dog.

The new puppy should not be allowed to bother the older dog. The older dog needs to know you have his back.

4. Seek out positive experiences between the two dogs.

Do walks go well? Go for lots and lots of walks together as a pack if possible. Bring another adult along to help.

My dog Ace does much better with Remy when we’re outside. He tolerates Remy getting in his face for the most part as long as we’re outside. They can walk together, sniff the same bushes, touch noses. I’m using that to create positive interactions. “Yay! Such good boys! Treats for all!”

5. Calmly have both dogs sit and then give them treats.

Dog Behaviorist Dr. Patricia McConnell has an excellent post on dog-to-dog resource guarding. One idea she listed is to give both dogs treats one after the other for calm behavior. This is assuming you have no tension between the dogs and there is no risk of fighting while they’re sitting there.

In our case this works really well. I use a spoon of peanut butter, have both dogs sit (Remy tethered) and say their names one after the other giving them a few licks rotating back and forth. It teaches Remy to stay and teaches Ace fun things happen around Remy.

How to get your older dog to accept your puppy – a few reminders

Ace Remy and me

1. Dogs really do live in the moment.

Even if they fight or bite they generally move on from second to second. They can have many positive interactions in any given day.

2. Dogs adapt.

Even if two dogs have had a couple of bad interactions they can move on and live peacefully together if they’re set up for success. Usually anyway. There are exceptions.

3. Humans need to move on too. 

Dog owners have to move on and change their mindsets as well. Even if something bad has occurred, you have to move on. For example, I need to stay light and positive (not tense). I can’t sit there predicting a reaction from Ace or it’s bound to happen. I may even cause a reaction.

4. It’s not personal.

My older dog is aggressive to my new puppy, but Ace is not capable of “hating” Remy or being upset with me for getting a new dog. Those are human emotions. My dog is just being a dog, guarding what he feels is valuable and protecting his space. While we can make it complicated, it’s really pretty simple.

How long does it take an older dog to get used to a puppy?

It just depends on the dogs. In our case, things got a lot better once our puppy was about 5 months old. At that age, he was large enough where I wasn’t so worried my older dog would hurt him.

And, at that age my puppy seemed to have more common sense and awareness about my older dog’s limits. My puppy would still push the limits, but he understood there would be consequences such as a ferocious growl or a snap. He knew to “proceed with caution.”

I still supervised them, of course, but I wasn’t as worried my puppy would get hurt. Around this time, my older dog seemed to have accepted our puppy and was pretty indifferent to him as long as the pup left him alone.

Then, once my puppy hit about 18 months old, they would even nap together on the same bed. This was not because they were good friends but because my older dog would be sound asleep and Remy would sneak in for a cuddle. Once Ace woke up with Remy right there, he seemed to tolerate it as long as Remy was calm and quiet.

Remy and Ace often cuddled up on the same bed together

September 2016 update: Things are going much better! Ace is no longer showing aggression.

OK …

What do the rest of you have to add to this?

You can give me some advice if you wish. I’ll take it or leave it, but it’s really hard to understand an exact situation without actually observing the dogs, don’t you think?

You could also share your own ups and downs.

I love hearing from you!

Older dog is aggressive to my new puppy

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Lindsay Stordahl is the founder of That Mutt. She writes about dog training and behavior, healthy raw food for pets and running with dogs.


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65 thoughts on “My Older Dog is Aggressive to My New Puppy”

  1. First let me tell you how much I love that picture of the two of them. What a perfect snapshot of their personalities.
    I know you’re concerned, but it seems like you have it pretty well under control. You recognize that there is an issue and you’re doing your part in redirection and taking note of when and why issues develop.
    Our older dogs have always corrected our younger ones. Sometimes I think they are capable of teaching each other better than any person could. However, I have seen a situation where dogs who were otherwise “fine” suddenly began experiencing issues when one became sick.
    Is Remy learning from Ace? Hopefully he is taking some of these conversations to heart.

    1. I have a 9 year old Beagle he’s a house , Buddy has always been the only dog . Two weeks ago I got a 2 month old puppy which he is a Golden Lab I named him Flip he’s very loveable and wants so bad too play with Buddy but Buddy growls loud and runs away from Flip , this little puppy wants too play with the older dog so much he’s backs off but shortly after he tried again I’m hoping Buddy will accept him in time . I treat them the same I gives them both same attention was wondering if you have sone advice for me .

  2. I think b/c Ace has been sick for these past months he is abit extra *touchy* about things and little Remy is just one of those things right now. As he is feeling better and better I think there will be a wonderful friendship between the two!

      1. Hello, I’m getting a King Charles spaniel puppy next week, and I’m having second thoughts because I already have a 7 year old Shiba inu, that can be aggressive to other dogs, and I need some advise because Im afraid my Shiba will hurt the Pup??

        1. Does the older dog realize she has hurt me when she killed my new female puppy. I don’t want to be mad at her but I’m really having a hard time as I have been waiting and wanting this new pup for over a year. They are both weenie dogs, the older being 13 and healthy and the new pup was 8 weeks. I am just devastated and keep crying. I introduced them with barriers, gave the older dog even more attention, fed separately, they were together for 3 days and the 4th she bit her head and left 2 punctures. Her neck was wet and she was gone. I just bawled. The first day I used a playpen and they seemed okay together. I also have a 14 year old weenie dog who is a neutered male. He had nothing to do with it. I only know because my pup had blonde hair in her mouth where she tried to defend herself. I blame myself for not using the playpen long enough. But does my older girl realize what she did? Any advise or comments for me. I feel so guilty that my little miracle pup is gone. Please help.

          1. Lindsay Stordahl

            Tanya, I’m so very sorry this happened to you. I would say that no, dogs can’t rationalize something with the kinds of emotions we use. So while your dog can tell you are upset, she can’t possibly understand why. She may not have been trying to kill the puppy but instead hit the right spot when giving a firm correction.

        2. Tracey Fielding

          I have a 9 year old Jack Russell and I recently bought home a 2 month old puppy unfortunately my older dog is aggressive towards her he has already bitten her twice and actually drawn blood and marked her face, I’m trying so hard to do the right thing with both dogs, I give the older dog lot’s of attention I let him walk in the house first, I feed him first they, are great walking together they actually interact really well how long Will it take before my older dog will accept her?

          1. Lindsay Stordahl

            Hi Tracey, sorry to hear this as I understand how stressful it is! In my case, my dogs were never “friends” but once my puppy was a little bigger, at least I didn’t have to worry about a serious injury. They did learn to co-exist pretty well after even just a few months. You have to take things slowly. I would hire a trainer to help observe and offer suggestions if you think you would benefit from that. Here is a post I wrote on dogs not getting along. It might help you brainstorm a bit:

            The walking together is great, I would do that as much as you can if it’s going well. That worked well for my two as well. They got to do something together with no competition and would sniff and walk together nicely.

  3. Tish Rickards

    I have the opposite. My older dog is so submissive, the puppy began to really push her around. I wanted them to work it out, but puppy was taking it way too far, ending in a few fights (no marks, but scary). I began a strict training program with them working together which really seemed to help. Younger dog is still definitely going to be dominate, but I don’t want her to be a bully!

  4. I don’t have advice to share beyond what you’ve listed already. I think you’re being very thoughtful about this and taking the right approach. I’ve seen similar behaviour from Bax when we have dog visitors in the house. It’s only in the house and it’s only in certain moments that he seems touchy about the visitors. I’ve always wondered what would happen with a more extended house guest. I do feel like he’d get over it eventually. Or at least that’s what I hope. So I guess all I can offer is you’re not alone.

  5. A few months ago we added a second dog to the family and we had to slow integration down because our current dog Nala was having resource guarding issues so we put all the toys away and they are fed in separate rooms and they only had minimal interaction and walks together for about a month and then its likes a light turned on with Nala and she decided the new dog Cody was fun and now they place constantly. There is an age difference Cody is 1 and Nala is 6 and I feel it makes a difference because Cody still has puppy moments and Nala will correct him when he is out of line and he stops so she is also a good teacher. It took some time but now they seek each other out which makes me happy too see but like all thing patience is key. I am sure you are handling things just fine and I like you said dogs live in the moment so mishaps happen but the next second they are over it.

  6. This is so tough. Ace is not capable of hating Remy, but as you already know, he most certainly did not “want” to be living with a rambunctious, bold puppy at this point in his life either. It’s good that Remy is starting to learn Ace’s buffer zone. As you say, separation and management, though, is on you. Some stuff I read has suggested that puppies don’t really develop the ability to “read” other dogs’s body language until they are closer to 4 months old.

    All your tips are good for handling what is a difficult situation. I would add one other issue to be mindful of: the effect of managing or correcting a confident puppy when you have an emotionally sensitive or connected to you older dog. This happened to me. If you have an older dog who doesn’t even need “No” – just a glance at you & they listen – and now your household has a constant source of “No” “don’t” “leave it” in that tone, it is really emotionally unsettling for them. Even when you are managing nipping and biting (“Ouch”) or otherwise putting on more of a display to teach the puppy, the older dog senses that you are displeased and frazzled. So some of Ace’s behavior that you are seeing could be a manifestation of his emotional sense that Remy = household instability.

    1. This totally clicked for me. I defiantly believe that this is happening with our dog and our new puppy thanks!

  7. When we first got our puppy he was a big resource gaurder. Picked up all toys food bones etc. went to training and things got much better. Then months later he started guarding a water bowl and me from our older dog. So strange it came out of nowhere. For the most part they enjoy each other walking and playing. Then the ugly monster reared its head again! So upsetting but went back to basics and started rewarding for good behavior. Constant treats as he let the older dog drink without getting upset or when he jumped on my lap. That’s a little tricker bc when the older one jumps on my lap the pup is usually on the couch not very close to me. I do give praise. Any other suggestions would be wonder. But things have calmed down again. Wonder what makes it rear its ugly
    Head again?

  8. Great article. We have a 2 year old male lab and a 4 year old female GSP/pit mix. We foster dogs for a rescue group. Much to our surprise, the lab is the grumpy one, especially with puppies. We have had 2 pups at a time and the poor dog can’t even poop in peace without puppies running at him. And of course, the more he wants to be away from the pups, the more determined they are to win him over. Good to think of this in terms of a “correction” from him, rather than him just being cranky. We will try to do a better job with intervention after reading with this article.

  9. Ooh, I just want to say this sounds so stressful and I’m sorry you’re going through this. It does sound like you’re managing it very well, though. Link’s first meeting with my parent’s older dog went very badly. I wasn’t expecting him to be near the door when we walking in the house, and Bonkers was right there full of piss and vinegar. Bonkers was still recovering from IVDD and he sent a screaming puppy head-first into a rose bush. I still feel guilty about it; it was completely my fault. Luckily, I’ve been better at managing it moving forward, and I can now say with confidence that Bonkers and Link are friends. He also doesn’t seem to be in pain from the IVDD anymore, which I’m sure is half the battle. I hope Ace feels better soon!

      1. I have a shitu which is 11 years old. And a great pyrennees and aketa mix 3 months old. The puppy wants to play but pushes his weight around and is bouncing. The older dog grows and goes after him when the puppy is walking by. How can I get them to get along please help.

  10. I have no advice to offer you Lindsay because you seem to have it all handled. Just keep doing what your doing. Although its not the same, I had a similar instance with my dogs. I had Chip since she was a pup and is now 5. Two years ago I got Phoebe (who is no 7) so were both adult dogs. But it was actually phoebe who got quite possessive of me and toys when she first got in. If one dog was sitting on the couch, the other dog wouldn’t go near it! I didn’t entertain it and tried to split my time evenly between the two. It took about a month for my dogs to finally get used to eachother and stop the possessiveness. It took about 6 months(!) for them to actually play together! I know its not the same but keep doing what you are doing and be patient. Remy will learn pretty quickly and hopefully Ace will relax a bit once Remy finds his place.

  11. You have thought of everything as I can see, and are conscious of the environment and situation, and why dogs do things etc. Could this be Ace showing jealousy issues? He comes across as a really well behaved balanced dog. But, does he see Remy getting all the attention (you have to teach him after all), but is that the way Ace sees it? He will not understand. After all, he has been through a lot just recently. (Apart from the teaching) have you thought about giving the dogs separate attention – teaching the other one to wait? For example when we brought our second dog in, my other half started to give the dogs ‘their turn’. For example, he gives one some fuss saying ‘Odin’s turn’. When he’s finished, then its ‘Twizzles turn’. The dog who is not getting attention will ‘wait their turn’. Put Ace’s paws on your feet – how would you feel emotionally – this may (or may not) lead you to a solution. This info may be irrelevant to you, but you could use it at a later date if the situation calls for it. All I can say that it resolved jealousy issues for our two.

  12. Raven and Stetson have had zero aggression with Archer. Raven indulges and will play with Archer all day no matter how rude or intrusive he might be. Stetson avoids him by jumping on the bed our couch. On the other hand Linus is the one who puts Archer in his place (in a good way) if he’s getting overly rambunctious. The one area of concern I have with Linus is with his food bowl. It is something I need to manage when I first bring home a puppy. I think you mentioned one of the most important things “it’s always the owners job to manage these situations”. We as owners need to monitor interactions between our older dogs and puppies to make sure everyone in our home is comfortable.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I’m concerned about the food bowl too. For now I just feed Remy in his kennel and keep him kenneled while Ace eats. My food-crazed cat Beamer has always had to eat in a separate room too.

  13. Hmmm I personally wouldn’t stand for a rough correction from the bigger, older dog. Also one correction that is too rough can be fatal- yes it happens-older dog body blocked pup who ended up severing a major artery. Older dogs intention wasn’t to kill simply block but weight difference can matter. After all it is your job as boss to keep the pup in line not Ace’s. I don’t tolerate growling, lunging, etc at other dogs as again it is my job to manage the pup not the older dog. A sick Oder dog should have quiet time with just you. I like the rule of thirds for the puppy. 1/3 of time with you, one third by himself and one third with older dog and you.

    1. Our berniedoodle (7 months now – raised together) plays was well adapted to our 2 yr old Boston and 13 year old Bugg. The older didn’t want the rough play and let him no but wasn’t mean. The Bernie started getting very aggressive with only to Bugg – and frequency increased even though we pulled him off. The lot her day he came in and attacked my older dog with no cause (any of the times) and hurt his leg. The older dog was literally shaking then when he got near. I won’t let the pup back now and caged him until my daughter took him to her house. Had a positive reinforcement trainer when he was young – she saw aggression and was concerned then – with other things – but we kept trying.. love him dearly but now think it best to re-home. He was great with the Boston.

  14. Sandy Weinstein

    Evie was 8 when i got Tressa, and then got Harley the next year. Evie was never agressive, she was always very submissive. she just did not want to have anything to do with either of her sisters. i think when they are an only child for so long, they may get jealous of a new puppy. you have to tak into consideration, Ace was there first and he is having some health issues. When i was looking at a new dog, my dog breeder said a puppy would be better than an older dog, because i really wanted Harley’s mom, whom i had wanted since she was a baby, but she was just too pretty and nice as a show dog. she was retiring because she did not like the show ring, so the breeder had consented to sell her to me, however, she said Evie would do better with a puppy. but Evie would have nothing to do with her. i love the picture of you with the 2 guys. even today Evie will not have much to do with her siblings. i feed the girls separately, the 2 younger girls get feed in their crates. they all have separate beds as well, they all use to sleep with me and Evie had her special place in bed and would get mad if the other girls took it. however, now Evie does not like to sleep in the bed because of her health. i make sure that Evie and i have our time together. i think it will just take some time. Ace is much older and not in the best health. maybe he feels like you are putting him out to pasture.

  15. We have a two year old ridgeback/dachshund mix who we have had since she was thirteen weeks old. Her name is Leia, in the last few weeks we have picked up a miniature dachshund pup, he is about 9 weeks old. We named him Dante. They seem to get a long ok, he can be a little feisty at times which gets on ours and leia’s nerves. Often the two growl and nip at each other, but their tails are still wagging sometimes. I cant tell if they are playing or fighting. He squeels a lot, but I dont see any scratches or bites on him so I think hes ok. Leia has always been calm, doesnt bark a lot and loving. I worry though that Dante may rub her the wrong way some day and trip a wire in her brain, causing her to become violent or really hurt the pup, or worse, can that happen? Could a generally well-natured dog become violent over night?

  16. I read each and everyone of your posts. They are excellent, well written with much advise for those focus who are parents to our four legged furry friends…thank you very much.

    I’ve responded several times to your posts even asked on occasion for advise on a certain situation. But have “Yet” to receive a response back from you. I realize you have a super large audience and it nearly impossible to answer each and every email. Having said this, I will continue to follow your editing since it’s extremely valuable to me and the fee is “PRICE-LESS”…but will trust that someday your articles will address my issues.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Hey Tom, thanks for the nice comment. I actually just emailed you yesterday about your raw dog food questions.

  17. My husband and I have our 8 year old pitbull Romeo who has been the only dog for 4 years. Romeo is not fixed but will be getting fixed in a couple of days, hoping this helps with his protection and aggressiveness. We got a 6 week old female pitbull puppy a little over a week ago and Romeo is completely unsure and coming across as “jealous.” Not sure how is he is feeling but the puppy doesn’t know how to play with Romeo and has bit him a couple times which he growls and bites back. We are always supervising their interactions but it scares me because one bite from Romeo could kill her. Any advice?

    1. What helped us the most was not allowing the puppy to barge up to our senior dog. The senior would never just act aggressively for no reason, it was only when the puppy tried to climb on him, play with him or take something he had. We also took them on walks together because they enjoyed sniffing the grass together and moving together as a “pack” or family.

      I would be extra careful of guarding behavior around food bowls (even water), dog beds, attention from you, toys, etc.

      1. That makes sense. Our puppy could just be playing in her play pen and Romeo just stares her down and always looks like he wants to really hurt her. It scares me to death just watching the way he looks at her. Am I totally overreacting? I just have so much fear even though he doesn’t want to hurt her all the time. I really hope him getting fixed will help with his control and possessiveness. I need more advice. It’s only been a week and a half but I’ve been a stress case with Romeo and the puppy. I’m sure they sense my energy. 🙁

  18. We have a 9 year old lab and 4 year old Shepard the lab has congestive heart failure and we wanted to get a new dog as we knew there is not much time left for her maybe 6 months. Know we found puppy it is also a Shepard 10 weeks old now the lab and knew pup get along just fine unless they puppy want to play to much then she just puts here in her place no problem. The Shepard on the other hand does not like the puppy at all nips at him lunges at him even when we have the puppy in the cage she just set there and watch’s and if the puppy jumps up on the bars she will some time ignore him or nips at the crate which of course she cant get thru its only been 2 going on three days will things get better as she learns the puppy is staying and not just some dog that got onto our property ( My Shepard does not like other dogs on are property and tends to bark to scare them off)saying that she hasn’t deep barked or growled at the puppy she is just seems not her self around her just to serious and on edge I would say is this something I am being overly paranoid about or will this pass as they get to know each other better. PS the puppy is kind of whiny right now and my Shepard only really barks of the is a unknown person or vehicle on or property or a dog

  19. Thank you for this article. We recently added a new puppy and our basset hound (8 years old) is showing mild aggression. We did not handle their first encounter well – totally our fault! I look forward to implementing some of your suggestions for more positive interactions.

    Sorry for your loss of Ace.

    1. How is it going now with your dogs? I have a 2 yr old basset who is being aggressive to a new pup. I think total jealousy as he attack’s it unprovoked. I have the pup on a leash constantly and keep them apart. But he gets in any opportunity if I am just walking past him with pup on leash. He goes for it. Outside is better. But not in the house. I do walks. Each gets attention. Fed separately. Of course I never have anything in hand to correct immediately, no remote, spray bottle or pet corrector even though all are in the house. He will even go in his crate after he does it because he knows he is in time out. I am just at a loss about this. He is only 2. And used to like playing with other dogs. Went to daycare all the time. He was checked at the vet, I’m wondering if the rabies shot is a contributor to the anger issues. I have seen that before with other dogs. Currently my rat terrier who just got his shot has started biting if anyone gets close or bumps him when he is sleeping. And at times when trying to take something from him , this was Never a problem. The only change was that shot.
      Anyway, really need some help with this older dog being aggressive. If this pup keeps getting attacked for no reason he will hate all other dogs.

  20. Hi Lindsay,
    So sorry to hear of your loss of your fur baby, Ash. I know how such a loss feels. I came across this website and your post out of desperation. I am ready to cry and at wits end. We too recently added a new puppy ‘Gracie” to our family and my older dog “Anna” is not adjusting very well and has had very aggressive bouts with the puppy in which she had bitten the puppy and drawn blood. We got our puppy at 8 1/2 weeks and she is now 18 weeks old. Both are girls and both are beagles. Our older beagle just turned 9 years. Thankfully the puppy is on the submissive, happy go lucky, won’t give up side where as our older beagle is very much alpha. I do some of the things many of you have suggested but at this point feel I need to get professional help with the older beagle. I’m just not finding a resource in my area. I live near a big city so feel I must not be using the appropriate verbiage in my searches. I will add that we got our older beagle Anna as an 8 week puppy and had an older beagle ‘Sadie’ 12 years at the time. Our 12 year old beagle was the sweetest dog ever. Calm, mild mannered, tolerate, never aggressive. After a couple of years she started having health issues, in addition to becoming death and blind. Anna would look after her and was very protective of her, she would alert us if Sadie was having a seizure or when she fell in the pool one time. Anna did however control all the toys and did not share, this behavior started in her puppyhood. She never was aggressive just would grab all the toys even if Sadie was playing with it. We lost Sadie at the age of 16, this was 2 days before we moved into a new home. We were having new flooring put in our home so for 2 weeks we only had an air mattress and 2 lawn chairs. We also discovered our new home was within earshot of a gun range. Not good for Anna who was deathly scared of fireworks, storms, gunshots and loud noises. Add a strange new home without familiar surroundings, and a missing companion. To say we over compensated would be an understatement. We did everything we could to help her feel. Safe, loved and secure. After a year she gained confidence and settled into her new environment Not as she was before the move and loss of Sadie but close to it.
    I sit on the floor so I can have a beagle on either side to show each equal attention, and my cat will get in the chair that is behind me. I play with both, buy tons of toys to keep them engaged and entertained but they each want the toy the other one has then switch and it’s continues. They always want the toy that they don’t have at the time. This had been where some of the aggression has come in, also there is jealously over me and my husband’s attention, as well over food, (Gracie found a crumb and Anna wanted it) and over a sock. Anna has always had a thing for socks and as a puppy would steal socks, sneak them into the yard to bury them. In recent years she would hide them in the house or just walk by us with it in her mouth to get our attention as it became a game to her. She got a sock recently and buried it and Gracie must have saw her do this and went and dug it up resulting in upsetting Anna to where she went after her and bit her in the mouth even though she didn’t have the sock anymore. Tonight was the tipping point as they were playing with a newer toy (supervised) with multiple toys in it and Gracie grabbed one and Anna went after her bitting her in the mouth, nose and jowls repeatedly. There was blood but Thankfully Gracie is ok but we are so worried what could happen going forward. My husband is looking to get something that will control the issue like a shock collar, where as I am trying to get to the root of the problem and address it. Any advise, referrals or help would be most appreciated. I will add that getting rid of either fur baby is not an option. I love both of my pups greatly and could easily return Gracie to the breeder but I am committed to finding a workable solution to bring harmony to our family. Thank you in advance.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Hi Donna, I know this is very stressful. I find that managing them is key vs. a “fix” to the problem unfortunately. I use shock collars for training things like coming when called off-leash and to stop digging, etc, but this is not a situation where I would use a shock collar. I think that will add more stress for your adult dog. I would keep toys and small items and food picked up, feed them separately, try to do things like take them for walks together – things they both enjoy where there is no pressure to “compete.” It is good your younger dog is not challenging the older dog.

      I do think you should try to find a local trainer in your area who can help. You may need to get a few opinions if you are not fully comfortable with whoever you find. Trainers vary so much in their approaches.

      Here are a few links to my posts that might help you brainstorm if you haven’t seen them:

      Prevent fights:

      Slow intros:

      And I’d check out the book “Feeling Outnumbered” by patricia mcconnell:

      As well as this post from her on dog to dog resource guarding:

  21. Thanks so much Lindsay! Will definitely be using this information and tips going forward. Will give updates on our progress. 🙂

  22. We have a shih tzu Nala that we rescued 5 years ago. We got a new shih tzu puppy 3 days ago. Nala met him at petsmart and seemed to like him. When we got home that drastically changed. She puffs up at him showing her dominance and has already tried to bite him twice. He’s only 3lbs and she’s about 17lbs. Both incidents of her trying to bite him he wasn’t even near her. She charged him. He’s terrified of her and will cry if she get too close. He peed on the floor tonight when she came after him. We’ve been trying to show Nala a lot of affection lately but she doesn’t want to be around she’ll go hide under the bed or under my makeup vanity. The treat giving with both pups there worked somewhat. Tonight we made her go outside for trying to bite the puppy but I felt super guilty. He’s so tiny she could kill him if she wanted to. I’m constantly having to follow the puppy around to make sure she’s not going to bother him. The weirdest part is she isn’t food aggressive at all. She doesn’t like him being near some pillows I left out for her. She also has a dog bed but does not sleep in it. She doesn’t mind him being in her bed. I’m completely overwhelmed. I thought they would be friends. Nala has a vet appointment tomorrow so maybe the vet can help. I just don’t want the puppy to grow up and be scared of her.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      So sorry to hear this! For me, it really helped to keep them separated most of the time. I had a pet gate so they could interact through the gate but the puppy couldn’t bother my senior. I also had the puppy on a leash when they were in the same room together. Taking them on walks together was the best thing since outside they seemed to get along and focus on sniffing the grass together or whatever.

      I would try not to punish your older girl too much. Of course, you want to set some boundaries with her and tell her “no” if she is being out of line (as it sounds like she is!). It’s different if the puppy were trying to annoy her but sounds like he’s now scared of her. So, I would definitely see what your vet thinks and a trainer in your area but I would keep things slow. No need to force them to interact together all that much. Hopefully things will sort themselves out as the pup gets a little bigger.

  23. Elizabeth Stafford

    My Adult Maltese who has been with us for 7 years is very aggressive towards my new puppy who is 9 weeks old. I was not too concerned untial last eve my adult dog made the pup sqeal . I did not see what happened by my husband said that the adult dog latched on to the puppy and shook it a little. I now have puppy in crate. Toys, to be honest are scattered everywhere: in pen, crate and on the living room floor around the house. My puppy hates being in the pen. He cries at first but then he settles down in his bed and lays calmly. I am concerned that maybe I am restricting puppy too much. I have never had a puppy. My adult dog was 4 when she was adopted and was very well trained when we got her. Please help me out with any suggestions and let me know if my approach is o.k. My husband yelled loud at our adult dog and put her in a crate. She never goes in a crate. I told my husband that what he did to adult dog was wrong! Lets say, we did not have a fight but a firm conversation and I was on my adult dogs side. Help!!!

  24. I’m sitting here crying now because our older 11 yr old dog just bit my 12 week old puppy and left puncture marks under his eye and his mouth.My husband had a hard time getting him off of the puppy. The puppy will not leave him alone and I guess he finally had enough this morning. The puppy is so active I’m having a hard time keeping him from aggravating the older dog. I am debating on whether it is going to work out with the new puppy and the older dog. I don’t want the older dog to hurt or even worse, kill the puppy. Am I overreacting? We’ve had the puppy since Nov. 16th – it’s hard trying to keep a constant eye even though I try. I’m just really upset right now – is there hope in this case? Has anyone ever had an aggressive situation like this and it works out.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I’m sorry to hear this and I know it’s scary and frustrating. I think only you and your husband can decide what’s best. For what it’s worth, my older lab bit my weim puppy on the head with a ferocious snarl. No “puncture” but there was blood. My puppy squealed and ran to me and I decided not to react. Instead I knew I had to be better at setting boundaries, making sure they had gates between them or a crate when I couldn’t supervise. It got easier once the puppy grew and quickly was similar size as my older dog. It also helped that puppy Remy still loved old man Ace and wasn’t scared of him after the bite. Dogs often move on. My dogs were never best friends but they did well together mostly. They would even sleep on the same dog bed but not until the pup was about 18 months.

      That is just my experience. It’s stressful and a lot of work but in our case it ended up pretty well overall.

      Best of luck!

      1. I appreciate you sharing your experience. It helps hearing it. Even after the incident earlier – the puppy isn’t afraid of the older dog. The puppy is going to be the same size or larger once he’s grown. We raised the older dog from a pup with a 7 year old Jack Russell and we recently took care of a rescue dog for several months so it isn’t like he’s been the lone dog. Earlier, he was laying on his back on the floor in a submissive mode and then just went after the puppy like he had been holding back a lot of frustration.

        It is heartbreaking – I’ve fallen in love with the puppy and hoping I can work it out. I feel so bad for the puppy and older dog too. I hope I haven’t put them both in a bad situation by getting the puppy.

        Thank you again

  25. Rhonda Mckenney

    We have a rescue little dog she is a year and a half. She is a very well behaved dog except for barking when the door bell rings.
    We decided we had enough love in our hearts to bring in a golden retriever puppy.
    It’s only been 5 days. And I know I’m rushing. Perfection.
    But it was an instant turn of aggression on our little dog ( cricket).
    She does play with the puppy ( Huckleberry)
    As I type this I can hear them happily playing in my living room.
    But Cricket can turn very fast.
    I was giving cricket some lovings this morning and huckleberry was laying next to me as well Huckleberry decided to move to the edge of the bed but cricket became aggressive and growled and bit her.
    Here’s my concern my face was right there in between them.
    My husband out of fear pushed cricket off the bed.
    My anxiety is creeping up. I have a 2 year old grandson who lives here with us and he is a dog lover ( future vet) lol
    Because the baby will hug our dogs I’m scared cricket will bite him. Thoughts!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      As you know, you’ll just have to supervise closely with the baby. I think Cricket is probably fine on her own with your grandson, but when the two dogs are together she may get protective of your grandson. She may accidentally nip him if she’s trying to “guard” him from the other dog. The reason I mention this is because the only time one of my dogs bit me quite hard was when one was on a dog bed, I was petting the dog, and the other dog approached. They got into a fight over the bed, went after each other and one of them bit my arm unintentionally.

      The fact that your two dogs are playing is great! That is a good sign and I think things will be fine. Just be careful about “resources” like toys, food bowls, people, places on the couch, etc.

  26. I need some help! I’ve read all the comments and tons of articles and books on introducing my puppy to my two older dogs. They’re both 5 and I’ll admit, not greatly socialized with other dogs. I brought my puppy home 2 weeks ago and the first week went good. We introduced them on neutral ground and then into the house. On leashes we let them smell each other separately and all together. They even started to play a little and the older dogs would visit the puppy at his gate during the day. This week something went wrong. I can’t figure out what. All the sudden my male (neutered) is showing aggression to the puppy. Snarling and growling everytime he sees him. Yesterday he lunged at his gate, teeth bared and ready to get at him. He just wants to play with them so bad! I’m sure it has some to do with jealousy but how do I fix it? I find myself leaving them all crated to avoid the aggression which is not helping the situation but I’m scared and don’t know what to try next. The puppy can just be in his sight and he starts showing aggression. He has never been like this ever before. My female has actually attacked him a couple times over a sacred toy or yummy food she got jealous of and while he’ll defend himself, I have never seen this side of him. I’m thinking professional training might be the answer but I’m hoping I can find some positive advise to get us through until I can get that. I’m scared the puppy will become scared of dogs and this will effect his socialization.

    1. I found that walking the dogs together as a group with one adult handling each was helpful. When outside, there is less pressure to compete for anything and they move forward together as a group, sniff together, etc. Hopefully you can do that to at least have something they can start to do together. Your female sounds like she’s doing OK as long as there are not toys or food out, so that’s promising. It’s hard to tell if your male is truly out to attack the puppy or if it’s all talk and making sure he’s in charge. I would definitely consult with a professional trainer who can come and observe their behavior and give you some tips. Here is an article I wrote on dog aggression between family dogs:

      Best of luck! What breeds are they? I mean, are they large or small dogs?

  27. Hi there! so glad I found this article. My 3 year old shih tzu ( Jax )has been showing aggression towards our new shih tzu pup ( Shadow ) who is 8 weeks old. They are father and son. A little backstory: we had a shih tzu who was also Jax’s son he was 6 months old when he passed earlier this year unfortunately to parvo. We were devastated because we all lost our best friend. We decided to mate Jax one more time because we did not want him to be alone and wanted the father son dynamic. We recently got Shadow but he has NOT been taking to shadow as well as he took to Loki. Which is so strange to me. Jax and Loki were best friends, played all dayyyy, and got along so well they shared toys and all. Of course, there was an occasional redirection here and there but best friends nonetheless. Jax and Shadow spend most of the day at my parents ( we call it daycare) and has one issue there and one issue in our home. We keep them separated for the most part and they have played before and have had good interactions. We watch them like hawks and feed them separately because i am afraid jax might hurt shadow. Shadow is still a baby so he sleeps most of the day in his crate but what happens when he gets older. Jax has been aggressive towards humans before and bit us plenty of times but he got a long so well with Loki i thought it would be the same with Shadow.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      So sorry to hear you lost Loki. Congrats on your new puppy. I think if you give it time they will get better. I would walk them together once Shadow is able to do so (not sure on vaccinations). Walking seems to be a time when dogs will work together, usually anyway.

      Best of luck and I hope it all works out!

  28. Hello, I have a female 4 year old lab/pit mix that is having some aggression issues when the new lab puppy comes in the house. She growls and shows her teeth when the puppy gets to close. She does not like sharing my husband and I at all. They both went outside yesterday and with my back turned my older dog bit the puppy right by the eye and on her mouth. Of course natural reaction is to scold the older dog and hug on the crying puppy. We truly adore the puppy and love our older girl bunches. Can anyone give some advice as to what to do or how long this may last?
    Thank you

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I’m so sorry to hear that, I’m sure it’s so stressful for you all. For our situation, it got better once the puppy was about 6 months old and not so little. The older dog was still grumpy, but I didn’t have to worry as much because the puppy was not so tiny. Also, the pup seemed to learn how far he could “push” the older dog. But I would suggest you supervise and do all you can to prevent the puppy from bothering your older dog for now. Keep the puppy leashed quite often when they’re together and use toys or your voice to keep your puppies attention away from the adult dog when she’s not leashed.

      Good luck! I hope things get better. If you’re able to take them for walks together, that often helps them bond and there’s usually less aggression since the adult dog is focused on the walk and moving/exploring.

  29. Thank you so much for your response. Since the weekend the puppy has gone to my son’s home. It got to be too much for the older one.
    Thank you again!!

  30. I have a 6 year old springer Finn and have just adopted a puppy cocker spaniel Eddie who is 11 months old now. We have had him 7 weeks now and they are generally ok but every now and them my springer will attack him and we are slowly learning it tends to be when the puppy comes to us when Finn is there. He seems to be recourse guarding us and Eddie has learnt to keep away. He is not feeling comfortable coming into the front room and will go and sit on his own upstairs or in the kitchen. We have taken advice and are trying to stop Finn owning the sofa and us by keeping distance between us. I am just worried that Eddie will get too nervous and not want to come anywhere near us with Finn around. How can we stop Finn doing this and how should we react when he does do it? Will it subside when Eddie grows up? Also Eddie has not been castrated yet and we are wondering if this will help Finn not want to attack him. Eddie has a crate we use when we want to give them treats or go out but he does not go in there on his own accord.

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