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Canine Behavior/Getting older dog to accept puppy


We have 2 dogs. A 5 year old silky terrier and a 5 month old maltipoo. Both are male and both are neutered. The puppy spends most of his time in the kitchen because when we let him out to run in the house he wants to chase the older dog and the older one ends up running upstairs to hide and doesn't want to come down. We have tried having them in the same room with us and the older dog growls and snaps at the puppy. They are NEVER left together unsupervised. They do not share food, water or toys. I feel bad that the puppy has to be in the kitchen so much. What can we do to help them get along better?

I encourage you to set up a consultation with a local professional who is familiar with canine body language. Because I cannot observe the dogs together, I can't know if the older dog is giving dog-appropriate corrections and the two will settle with some supervised practice, or if the older dog is really, truly not comfortable.

Puppies are full of energy and don't really have a good concept of boundaries (much like young children) and so often it just requires us to help both dogs learn how to be around each other. This is done by "having the back" of the adult dog - which means that when the adult dog gives a warning such as a growl, we redirect the puppy to another activity in the same space. We play with the puppy or give the puppy a long lasting chew to occupy them. We do NOT scold the adult for voicing is his discontent; he needs to be able to communicate and growling is communication. Ideally, we're noticing earlier signs of emotional stress or discomfort such as lip-licking, yawning, averting eyes, turning head or full body away, sniffing some unseen thing on the ground, uro-genital checks (quick check-ins with own genitals, which may include just a quick sniff of the hip or base of the tail), etc. If we see these earlier signs of stress, we can redirect the puppy away from the adult before the adult feels the need to give a clearer distance-increasing signal such as growling, barking or snapping.

The flip side of this is that if the adult gives such a warning and the puppy heeds it by moving away, but the adult decides to really pound the point home, then we have the puppy's back and redirect the dog to another activity. He's allowed to say, "back off. I don't want you so close right now." He's not allowed to keep making that point after the puppy has said, 'OK, sorry.'

But I need to be very clear about this... not every dog is right for every home. This is not a judgement of the house, but rather just a reality that some dogs thrive in different environments and some dogs, especially if they've been only dogs for quite some time, really are better off being only dogs for their entire life. If you were telling me that they get along 80% of the time, can relax and nap together, play together and share water bowl and most toys, but they have to eat in separate rooms, the adult gets tired and occasionally lashes out or there are scuffles over prized toys such as Bully Sticks and marrow bones, then I'd say we have a good prognosis and some toys should be in-crate toys only (with toys picked up and crate doors closed when they're not in there).

But if they NEVER get along, can't be in the same room for more than 2-5 minutes at a time before somebody is growling and trying to escape (your description suggests the adult dog is afraid), etc. then we need to really take a moment and assess if this is the best home for this puppy and if this is the best family decision for the existing dog. To my mind, the existing dog's needs have to come first and even if you love the puppy, if the existing dog is miserable, then it's not fair to him to force him to live with this dog for the rest of his life. Perhaps he'd prefer to be an only dog, or perhaps he'd do just fine with an older, slightly more settled dog or even just a different puppy. Not every dog gets along with every other dog and it's not fair to either of them to force that living situation. As you're already feeling, it's not great that the puppy is nearly always in the kitchen and not able to snuggle on the couch while you watch TV, or that the adult dog has to go hide upstairs if you want to have some play/snuggle time with the puppy.

As I said, since I can't observe them myself, I can't say if this is just settling issues or if there are some real red flags that suggest these two dogs are not a good match. So, I do encourage you to bring in a local professional for a consultation and allow them to observe the dogs separately and together (they may want puppy to be on a leash so that we can control how close he gets to the adult - so puppy doesn't drive the adult out of the space). The professional should be able to describe and point out specific behaviors they are seeing from both dogs that will help determine if this situation will be workable or not. They may even video tape the session so they can review the individual dog behaviors later (sometimes even in slow motion or freeze frame because the cues and signals that dogs give are sometimes so fast that we miss them with the naked eye).

I'm sorry I can't be of real assistance in this particular matter and I do wish you the very best of luck in figuring this out. Please feel free to followup if I can be of any further assistance.

Jody, APDT
Los Angeles Behaviorist

Canine Behavior

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Jody Epstein, MS, CPDT-KA


IF YOU BELIEVE YOUR DOG IS ILL OR INJURED, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL VETERINARIAN IMMEDIATELY. THIS IS NOT THE FORUM TO ADDRESS URGENT MEDICAL ISSUES. I AM NOT A LICENSED VET AND HAVE NO DIAGNOSTIC SKILLS. ***I have been answering questions on All Experts for over 8 years now. I enjoy being able to offer assistance in this forum. I do need to be clear, though. If you’re looking for free advice about a specific behavior question, you MUST submit your question to me via All Experts. If you bypass All Experts and write to me directly through my website, I will ask you to submit via All Experts. On the flip side, if you’re local to Los Angeles and you wish to speak to me privately about an in person consultation, please go through my website. I appreciate your assistance in keeping my volunteer work on the volunteer site.*** I can answer questions about the following canine behavior issues: obedience, timid/fearful & fear-based aggression, nuisance behaviors, families that are expanding with either new human or new animal members and many other issues. If you have potty training questions please first read my trio of blogs at If you still have questions after reading the blogs you can post your specific questions here. PLEASE be as specific as possible when asking a question. Give me a detailed example of the situation - dog's behavior, body language, circumstances surrounding the issue, what the consequences are (another dog's response, your response), etc. I can only provide insight if I can get a picture of the whole scenario. If I ask for further details, please provide them. In person I would normally observe for at least 90 minutes to assess the situation and the dynamics before offering tools and suggestions to modify it. In writing it is ever so much more difficult. Thank you for your participation in the process.


I have been a professional obedience trainer for 9 years, and specializing in behavior modification for 8 years. I have owned dogs my entire life. I own my own dog training and behavior modification business called Nutz About Mutz.

I am a Certified Profession Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA), #2133301 ; I am a member in good standing with the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), #77763 ; I am an AKC certified Canine Good Citizen evaluator (CGC), #71253

Publications ; ; Multiple articles in the local pet magazine Pet Press (found across Southern California)

I have a masters degree (MS) in Animals and Public Policy, with a minor in Animal Behavior, from Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. I also have 3 years of graduate education in Animal Behavior and Learning from UM-Missoula and UL-Lafayette. I continue to educate myself to canine-specific behavior through extensive reading, online interactive workshops, vidoes and attending canine behavior conferences, workshops and seminars. Beginning in March, 2017, I will be the Behavior & Training Manager at Second Chance Center for Animals in Flagstaff, AZ.

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