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Canine Behavior/2 dogs accepting each other


We have a 5yr old silky terrier. He has been neutered. He has been our only dog since he was a puppy. He is a very nice pleasant dog with a good disposition. Due to an illness, about 5 weeks ago we acquired my moms now 5 mth old maltipoo. He too has been neutered. He is definitely all puppy. Quite rambunctious but very nice. Due to him not being all the way house broke when we got him, we have kept him in our kitchen with a baby gate at both doors. He can see almost everything that goes on in the house. He is now almost all the way house broke. When he is in the kitchen our older dog will sometimes go to the gate and growl and bark but in a friendly way because his hackles are down and his tail is wagging. The puppy responds by coming to the gate and barking and running a big circle in the kitchen, wanting to play. Sometimes they will run gate to gate doing this. However, if we let the pup out to run in the house the older dog immediately runs away and goes upstairs. We have tried keeping the pup on a leash and then the older dog will sometimes stay downstairs but not usually. They have been nose to nose on leashes before with no issues but if the pup is loose the older dog runs away. We have tried keeping them together in the same room supervised by us. The older one just wants to get away and hide but if he can't he will usually growl, lunge and nip at the pup when it comes near. We have let him do this a bit to try to teach the pup his place but we don't seem to be getting anywhere. What can we do to help the older dog adjust?

Your older dog seems to have not been socialized to other dogs.  Such socialization must begin in early puppyhood and continue through age two, and even thereafter.  This means taking the puppy to puppy kindergarten in a positive reinforcement training venue, and even going forward to simple obedience class (NO coercion, no choker collars, etc.) so the puppy will become accustomed to "working" and socializing with other dogs in a controlled environment (NOT a dog park).  The five month old is a candidate for this, although a bit over the age of socialization.  I would definitely suggest it.

As for the older dog, he is quite literally confused and anxious.  Forcing him (by keeping him on leash) is NOT a good idea since he will develop defense aggression (which you are seeing) and that can be a serious problem that can't be remedied.  Keeping the puppy on leash (house tab) and removing him from too rambunctious an interaction with the older dog (saying NOTHING, simply pick up the leash and remove him), and sitting calmly until HE calms down, then praise/reward is the manner in which to let your older dog know and understand that YOU are in control.  When the puppy is on leash in the room with the older dog, so long as the older dog is not demonstrating obvious fear, pop high value, tiny treats into his mouth (hot dog bits, string cheese).  But be SURE he's not fearful or aggressive (growling) or you will be rewarding the fear.

Take both dogs out together, routinely, with your living partner.  Each has a dog on leash.  Walk parallel to one another but without forcing (or, in the beginning, even allowing) interaction.  Give treats and praise to the older dog randomly as you walk but first observe what he's THINKING (he must be calm, biddable and normal in behavior).  Have your partner offer tiny treats to the puppy ONLY when the puppy is calm, paying attention, and not attempting to interfere with the older dog.  In this way, you will be rewarding what you WANT.  IGNORE what you don't want. If any hilarity ensues, STOP walking and just stand there until the particular dog stops reacting and calms, then praise and move forward.

Be sure to feed the older dog first, greet him first, and generally allow him privileges that the puppy does not (yet) have.  The relationship should slowly develop and they should sort out social hierarchy between them.

Any further questions, please use followup feature so I can see original question/answer.

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

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Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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