When you brought the new puppy home, everything seemed to be perfect… But now you can’t help but notice that your older dog is beginning to show aggression towards the younger one.
You may see him staring at her, growling, or even nipping at her for seemingly no reason.
It is hard watching your lovely playful pet turn into a bully. The older dog biting the new puppy can be the last straw. So worried owners may ask, “I have an older dog attacking my new puppy. What should I do?”
There are plenty of things you can do to stop your older dog from attacking your new puppy. While it may seem impossible at first to make these two coexist harmoniously, all it takes is a little bit of time and some planning on your part for them to get along just fine.
Keep reading to learn more about why older dogs sometimes develop aggression towards puppies.
Why Is My Older Dog Attacking a New Puppy?
Are you wondering why your older dog is attacking a new puppy? Knowing some of the reasons for this behavior, and taking steps to avoid them, will go a long way to establishing peace between these two pets.
Apart from being territorial with their food and toys, you might be surprised to find out that older dogs have become aggressive towards puppies for many other reasons as well.
Since animals, in general, tend to act more on instinct rather than reason, this is something you might want to take into consideration before passing judgment on your dog’s behavior. The following are some of the main reasons why older dogs might show aggression towards
An older dog growling at a new puppy may happen because he doesn’t know how to act around young puppies. Since most dogs view younger animals as weaker and submissive, they will try their best not to get bitten or hurt.
This often leads to older pets attacking puppies out of fear, rather than out of hatred or spite – something that you’ll be able to notice by looking at the type of bites they give and where on the puppy’s body these bites occur.
Poor Socialization in General
Older dogs who were never socialized properly as puppies might begin showing aggression towards new additions to the family. Some of these older dogs simply don’t know how to behave around other canines and will try their hardest not to get dominated by them.
These types of behaviors may be rooted in a lack of proper training, especially when it comes to teaching your pet how he should act around other dogs. The good news is that no matter how old your dog is, you can still teach him some basic commands and help him learn how he should behave around others.
Acts Different When Unsupervised
When left unsupervised, older dogs might start showing aggression toward the new one out of jealousy, boredom, or because they’re simply used to being alone. Older pets who were once well socialized and trained can quickly turn into bullies when left in a room together with your puppy.
As you can imagine, this is especially true when there’s no one around to properly supervise their interactions with each other. If you want your older dog to stop harassing your younger pet, it’s important that you spend at least two hours per day training and playing with them both to avoid such behaviors in the future.
An older pet who was attacked by another canine will often try their best not to let it happen again. Such traumatized dogs will try their hardest not to let another dog bite or hurt them again. These types of aggressive behaviors become deeply rooted into their psyche – even after many years have passed since the event.
This older pet who was once attacked by another dog will often become aggressive toward other much smaller canines.
Since most animals try their best not to get dominated by larger or more dominant dogs, this can easily lead to them attacking younger pets in some cases – even if the new addition wasn’t being aggressive towards them at all.
Dog Is Sick
Older dogs might also become aggressive towards other pets because of a health issue. If your old dog has recently been diagnosed with cancer or another serious disease, his pain levels may have increased dramatically. Such pain could lead it to snap at other animals to protect itself from further harm.
Take the time out of your day to find out what caused this particular behavior before making any rash decisions about your dog’s future, like getting rid of him or turning him into a lifelong shelter resident.
It’s also worth mentioning that some breeds are more aggressive than others.
If you’ve got two dogs with opposite fighting traits, they’ll likely fight each other for dominance.
Dog-aggressive breeds like Bulldogs and American Staffordshire Terriers are just two examples of breeds that will often start fighting when they’re both put in the same room together.
My Puppy is Bullying My Older Dog
Some older pets will become aggressive toward new puppies simply because they were bullied by younger members in the past. A puppy attacking an older dog may be the cause of the elder dog’s tension.
A puppy may be the bully because it’s trying to take over the older dog’s bed, toys, or even the food bowl. In some cases, it may be because your new pet is trying to establish who the dominant one is. This behavior may go back to when the puppy was in its litter.
Puppy May Be Unhealthy
Even though you may have taken all the necessary precautions when it came to choosing a healthy breeder, there’s still a chance that the new puppy in the household isn’t completely healthy.
Some puppies can suffer from health problems shortly after being bought – even if their parents are perfectly okay. An unhealthy puppy can be the cause of your dog’s tension.
What Is Typical Dog Behavior?
You may see your old dog and new puppy fighting and wonder if this can be typical canine behavior. This is when it’s important to look at the type of bites that each dog gives and where on the body they’re found. Each puppy has its own character which you can learn by watching its behavior around other dogs.
When two dogs meet there are many ways they communicate with one another. They may start sniffing around, giving kisses, or even exchanging barks. Understanding your pet’s language will help you understand what it wants from the situation.
If you notice any aggressive behavior during the introduction phase, you mustn’t let them interact until you know what caused the sudden change in demeanor.
Dogs Love to Play
Some owners think that their older pets are just playing roughly when they start biting their puppies. While this might be true in some cases, watch out for any signs of pain or discomfort. Even nips during play can turn into something painful if they happen too often.
When two dogs fight, each one is likely trying to assert dominance over the other one, which can result in serious injury. Since most injuries occur on the face and neck area, it’s important to separate the two and try not to let them interact until you can figure out why your older pet suddenly started acting this way.
8 Things You Can Do When Your Older Dog Is Aggressive to Your Puppy
When an older dog starts showing aggressive behavior towards a new puppy, don’t let the situation escalate. Here are some things you can do to stop this type of behavior from getting out of control:
1. Never Hit Your Pet
This will only serve to make your pet afraid of you and cause more problems in the future. So never strike your animals, no matter what they’ve done.
2. Get Professional Help
If your older canine is currently fighting with his new puppy, call a professional trainer who can assess the situation and give you tips on dealing with it before it gets any worse.
3. Get a Second Opinion
You might also want to consult with another trainer who can give you a fresh pair of eyes on the situation. A second opinion can often help shed new light on an old problem and lead to better results.
4. Get Medical Help
If this behavior starts of the blue, your older pet may have a health issue that is causing him pain or discomfort. Make sure to schedule a vet appointment as soon as possible to catch any illnesses before they become worse.
5. Be Patient
Although it might seem like a great idea at first, never try to force your pets into interacting with each other. If they’re not ready for it, forcing them will only create more problems down the road. As long as you’re patient and follow these simple steps, you should be able to solve this problem successfully.
6. Separate Toys
If your older dog is acting aggressively towards a new puppy, make sure to separate all of their toys and other belongings. If the only thing they have in common is a toy, this can cause a discrepancy between them.
For example, if your older pet has been playing with a specific rope for years but suddenly finds himself having to share it with a new puppy, he could become jealous and agitated.
7. Praise Your Pups
Make sure you praise your dogs for good behavior to teach them what you expect of them. If both pets start showing signs of positive interaction, you can allow them to play together with supervision.
8. Teach ‘Up’ Command
One trick to stop a puppy from playing too aggressively is to teach them the ‘up’ command. If your dog starts showing signs of aggression during play, give them a firm ‘up’ command, and they’ll immediately stop what they’re doing and sit up.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get my older dog to stop being aggressive to my puppy?
Start by introducing them slowly and using baby gates and crates to keep them separated when you cannot directly supervise them. Gradually increase the time they spend together while supervised until they are both comfortable with each other. If there are any flare-ups, separate them immediately and try again later.
Be sure to provide plenty of chew toys and bones for your older dog, so they don’t feel like they need to protect their food from the puppy.
Finally, have patience and remember that it takes time for dogs to get used to each other. Feed separately and work with a positive dog trainer from day one to ensure both dogs are safe and happy. A well-trained dog will listen to you and understand what is expected of them, even in high-stress situations like when a new puppy comes into the home.
What should I do if my older dog starts to show aggression toward my new puppy?
If your older dog starts to show aggression towards your new puppy, it is essential to take action immediately. The first step is to separate the two dogs so that nobody gets hurt. Once they are separated, you can start to work on training your older dog to be more tolerant of the new puppy. The best way to do this is via a positive dog trainer who can help you to change your older dog’s behavior.
It is essential to be patient when training your older dog to accept a new puppy. It will take time and patience, but eventually, with the proper training, your older dog can coexist peacefully with the new puppy.
If you have any concerns about your dog’s behavior, you should consult with a professional dog trainer or veterinarian. In addition, they will be able to help you determine the best course of action for your specific situation.
What should I do if my older dog is aggressive towards my puppy?
If your older dog is already acting aggressively towards your puppy, you’ll need to be extra careful when introducing them. Start by separating them with baby gates to protect the puppy from getting hurt.
Then, you can begin working with a positive dog trainer to help your older dog learn how to behave around the new puppy. It is essential to be patient during this training process and remember that it will take time for your older dog to learn the new behavior.
Keep in mind that the main reasons for stressed-out adult dogs include the following:
- Not enough socialization during puppyhood
- Excess exercise or too much competition via dog sports
- Punishment via bad training methods
- Inconsistency in training methods
- Females are going into heat- stressful for males in the area.
Is it normal for an older dog to attack a puppy?
Older dogs may attack puppies for a variety of reasons. For example, some older dogs may feel threatened by the puppy’s energy and activity level. Others may be jealous of the puppy’s attention or fearful that the puppy will take their place in the family. Still, others may simply not like puppies.
Suppose an older dog in your home is exhibiting aggression toward a puppy. In that case, it’s essential to seek professional help from a veterinarian or animal behaviorist to find out the underlying cause and develop a plan to address the problem.
Pet MD explains that the signs that your pet is jealous are as follows include the following:
- Paying extra attention to you and being extra clingy
- Pushy behavior
- Growling or getting into a fight with another pet.
- Crowding your space
- Leaving the room
How do you introduce a puppy to an older aggressive dog?
If you have an aggressive senior dog, it may not be a good idea to bring in a new puppy before consulting with a trainer and a veterinarian for a complete health check to rule out pain and other causes of aggression from health conditions.
You should also work with a positive trainer to determine the causes of aggression and how to correct aggression issues before considering a new puppy.
You’ll want to take things slow when introducing a puppy to an older, aggressive dog.
Let the puppy explore his new surroundings while the older dog gets used to his presence. Once they seem calm and relaxed, you can try letting them meet on neutral ground, like in a park or backyard. Keep them on leashes first and let them sniff and explore each other.
If either dog seems anxious or aggressive, give them some space and try another day again. With patience and gradual exposure, most dogs can learn to get along.
Should I let my older dog and puppy fight?
No, you should never let your dogs fight. It can cause severe injury or even death. If you see a fight start to break out, quickly intervene and separate the dogs.
There are several reasons why you should never let your dogs fight. First, it’s just not fair to the dogs. They could seriously hurt or even kill each other, especially when a puppy is involved. Aggression is a learned behavior. Most dog squabbles are not severe, but here are some things that you can do:
- Remain calm
- Never yell, hit your pet, or get angry with our pets.
- Get between them if you can and split them up
- Try to stop conflicts before they escalate and crate both dogs
- Ask yourself if you’ve been setting them up to fail by forcing them to be friends?
- Are you reinforcing friendly behaviors all the time?
- Are your dogs guarding you, thus creating fights?
- Are you giving your pups enough downtime and time alone with their own safe space and toys to relax?
Conclusion for Older Dog Attacking New Puppy
When you find out that your older dog is attacking your new puppy, you should stop the older dog from acting aggressively towards your new puppy. An older pet might lash out because it feels challenged by the newcomer in the home. Remember to keep your pets separate until you decide they’re ready to play together. Make sure that your older dog is playing with positive reinforcement.
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Garrett loves animals and is a huge advocate for all Doodle dog breeds. He owns his own Goldendoodle named Kona. In addition, he volunteers at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, where he fosters dogs and helps animals. Garrett enjoys writing about Doodles and believes that dogs can teach humans more about how to live than humans can teach a dog.
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