Brought a new puppy into the pack with two senior dogs

    • Bronze

    Brought a new puppy into the pack with two senior dogs

    We've had three senior dogs for about 7 years now.  One is a 13 year old female shephard mix, another is a 9 year old male chow mix, and the last was a 10 year old male lab mix. The two males got into quite a few pretty bloody fights since they came from separate families when I met my wife.  We had to put the lab mix down in September due to bone cancer.  The remaining male chow mix has always had an uneven temper and caused most of the fights, but I've been working with him more and more and seemed to be getting better.  The only problem is that he always wants to play with the 13 year old shephard, and she just can't do it anymore.  I've really been wanting a new puppy since I had to put the lab down, so we got one yesterday.  It's a 7 week old lab mix, and in the last 24 hours I've really grown attached.  The puppy isn't exhibiting any behaviorial issues, other than wanting to play.  Since the chow always wants to play as well, I figured it would be a good fit, and since it's only a puppy, I figured it would be a non-threating playmate for the chow.

    Well, the change hasn't been good for the shepard, as she really keeps her distance and won't have anything to do with the new guy and has just been hiding the whole time - barely comes out to go to the bathroom or eat.  The chow likes to run alongside the puppy here and there, but whenever the puppy tries to be the "agressor" or play-bite, the chow gets that deep growl that always meant a bloody fight with the other male in the past.  The chow did the same thing when the puppy gets near his food bowl, and the puppy has been fed from a "community bowl" until now.

    I really don't know what to do here.  I don't know how agressive the chow can get against the puppy if pushed to far by another play bite.  I don't know if time will help this work itself out.  I also don't know what kind of training would be available for the chow to alleviate the tension.  I don't want to give up, but I need to nip this problem in the bud.  If anyone has recommendations other than giving the puppy back, I would really appreciate it.





    • Gold Top Dog

     The best way to avoid fights is to assert yourself as the benevolent leader in the household.  So, your pocketbook may not be happy, but you should take the pup to a positive training class NOW.  He needs to be around other puppies so that he learns to inhibit his bite and play nicely.  Ir's especially important to expose the pup to others because he was taken from the litter a week too early, and missed a bit of play there that helps with the learning process.  If you want to PM me your location, I will try to find a trainer in your area to recommend.

    The Shepherd will probably get used to him as she realizes that he isn't going to hurt her, but do make sure that he isn't a haunt.  Most adult dogs tolerate young pups until they get to be about 5-6 months old, then they are told off if they become too obnoxious to the older dog.  If your Chow has put holes in another dog with his teeth in the past, that may be the point at which things get dicey.  At any rate, it isn't too late to refresh or start obedience training with him, too, so that he realizes that it is YOU who are in control of the household.  If you can get him trained to "leave it" and "come" every time you ask, that is a good thing! 

    I would not let the puppy or any other dog eat in the same area as a food aggressive dog.  That's just asking for trouble.  Feed them in their own rooms or crates for safety.

    • Silver

    I brought home Bandit a 7 week old australian cattle dog mix from the humane society to our 13yr old weimaranar/dalmation mix Sativa. Well at first Sativa could care less about bandit but after time she had to put him in place a couple of times. Nothing serious with any blood shed, but enough to scare me something was going to happen to my Bandit. Our dog Sativa will stop when told to so that helped. Over time though the only bad thing that has happened is our older dog taught Bandit to be food aggresive. No matter what I did they will still growl and "argue" over any food between the two. Now Bandit is 1yr and they are good together. I think over time things work out between everyone. They will determain that the puppy is at the bottom of the chain even if it takes a few scuffles, just always be there when they are together. If you can't be there then put the puppy in a kennel or in a room while you are gone until things cool down. 

    • Gold Top Dog

    It never fails to astonish me when I read something along this line.  Please do not get me wrong I appreciate your desire for a puppy ( who doesn't love a puppy?)  But you begin your explanation with the description of what would appear to be a very dysfunctional pack. 

    It is rarely easy to blend males,  but to casually mention there have been many bloody fights is a big concern.   Fighting in your home and pack is not normal. And frankly not acceptable.  With the ages you mention for the remaining dogs it may have been much wiser to wait a while before bringing a newcomer into the home.

    But what is done is let's roll up the mental sleeves and see what we can figure out to protect all concerned  and with any luck transition your new pup into the pack and your home.

    Let me ask some questions and depending on the answers all of us will be much better able to assist you, okay?

    Do you have a fenced yard?

    Are these house dogs or yard dogs?

    Do they have a shelter in the yard ? Must they share it?

    Do they have crates in the house?

    Are all of your dogs crate trained?

    What kind of training do your dogs have? from basic manners , pet smart classes to obedience classes???

    How often do your dogs go to the vet?

    Do any of them have an existing health issue?

    Where do your adult dogs eat? How often do you feed them?

    Where do the dogs sleep?

    Where is puppy kept when you are at work?

    Do you realize at 7 weeks the pup has minimal bite inhibition so mouth play will be an issue until you and the elderly dogs have finished that part of his training?

    Have you considered a basket muzzle for the chow mix? this is not a punitive reaction it is a proactive one.  Why pay for a huge vet bill when a $20.00 lightweight muzzle could prevent most of the damage an attack by an uneven tempered dog would produce?

    Have you had the vet check the chow-mix's mouth? If there are any damaged or rotting teeth a dog can become understandably intolerant of mouth play. And unfortunately the smell is an attractive thing to a young pup.

    The Chow-mix is altered yes?

    Can you establish specific play areas with baby gates ,while puppy is so very young?  Allowing only limited and controlled play time.

    Crate training and feeding only in the crate will remove the desire to share or steal food.  Food fights are an entirely different kind of fight.  check into resource guarding. If your  older dog is reacting this way to the puppy you will have two dogs to train not one.

    When the new kid came in the house did you spend most of the time cuddling and cooing over it?  As opposed to minimal attention to the interloper and a ton of attention to the established pets??? chances are pretty good you may have set the scene for a jealous reaction...

    Puppies are beyond wonderful, they smell great, cuddle sweetly and are open to anything.... but our first and last responsibility belongs to the first comers, the old kids.  Don't worry about your female ignoring the pup, that is entirely okay.  She will interact as she wants to , do not force it. If she stays away or chases it off that is all good. watch your reactions, Lavish attention on her, talk to her about the new dog in the same tone you would about taking a walk or reading a good book.  If he is being puppy funny laugh with her, your hands on her , loving and accepting and letting her know you think he is funny too, or a bit of a pest etc.etc.   Normally older girls warm up after a while, they just want it on their terms not yours, not "it's"  ....

    The danger lies with the Chow Mix.  This dog has been allowed to battle with a house and yard mate. It is now using what you term an aggressive level of growling. Unacceptable.   He may be older but he needs some specific training and yes first thing I would do is purchase the basket muzzle. It is easy for them to wear, not tight and suffocating.  Think greyhounds, they wear these to race as even gentle greyhounds can get excited and fights can happen.

    I look forward to your answers , since they will allow us to be of greater help to you. check out my profile photos and you will see I have a number of dogs in my pack at all times , they are adored and well trained, but because we are careful and understand dogs we take few chances that could cause a forever problem.

    Bonita of Bwana

    Bonita of Bwana





    • Bronze

    Excellent response Bonita. Great suggestions.

    • Gold Top Dog

     Having recently brought home my first ever pup to a house with two adults (not seniors), my 2 cents...

    1. I wouldn't do any more community bowls.  Feed everyone separately in their crates.  If you want to work on modifying the guarding, that's fine but set aside times for that and have some sort of plan and help from a good behaviorist before bringing the puppy into it.  Don't let the seniors at the puppy's food.
    2. For the play/corrections/aggression, honestly I went with my gut.  I closely observed the three dogs together and I just *knew* when the growl or the snap was a play thing and when it was one dog getting sick of another and time for me to give everyone something to do on their own.  Not all growling or snapping is aggression or correction or needs to be corrected from you.  I did give my adults a lot of leeway with communicating to the pup when enough is enough, but again I closely observed and there's never been a real fight.  The pup was in a litter of 10, plus his mother, another imported pup a few weeks older, and other adult dogs so for 8 weeks he had a LOT of time to socialize and learn dog manners from other dogs so he has always been pretty good with taking cues from my adults on when they are tired and want him literally off their backs.  The key is to make sure each individual dog respects you.  If something did break out, can you call off one or all of the dogs?  I wasn't comfortable bringing in a third dog until I was confident with the level of bonding and respect I had with my adults.  Luckily, they've loved the puppy from day one.  For all they care he's just the most expensive toy I've ever bought them!
    3. It sounds like the shepherd lacks energy and may be in some pain due to her age?  If that's the case, I think she needs some support from you and a "safe zone" where the pup is simply not allowed to pester.  I'm not exactly sure what that could be...maybe she is allowed on the couch/bed to rest but the pup is not? 
    4. I would not assume that an adult will take crap from a puppy b/c it's a puppy.  Maybe some will, but maybe some won't and they will snap.  Or, if they are not used to puppies and small dogs and have high prey drive, that could be dangerous.