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Canine Behavior/puppy behavior


QUESTION: I have a 3 month old black lab puppy that we just got 5 days ago. The problem is that keeps getting on top of my 2 year old and mouthing her. Also today she got on top of her and peed all over her. Why is she behaving this way? And how do I get her to stop?

ANSWER: Mounting is not strictly a sexual behavior, it is a social behavior.  Urinating on an object is making a statement.  It appears this puppy is not well socialized (came from a neglectful breeding situation), may very well have had to fight to get to the teat (bad breeder, over-bred dam) and is attempting to make a strong social statement here of her "right" to be in the same place as your older dog.

How the older dog manages this is really up to him/her.  You don't mention any of that.

Put the puppy on house leash.  This is a long lightweight leash with handle cut off.  Be certain to greet the older dog first, let the older dog in/out first, give attention to the older dog, and begin RIGHT NOW to socialize this puppy with other dogs in a puppy kindergarten class where she will learn to interact and also be exposed to other people.  Be careful about this experience, be certain to check credentials of the trainer (be certain this person is actually qualified in POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT TRAINING ONLY) and observe a class or two before bringing your puppy.  Now is the time to introduce positive reinforcement training to your puppy AND to the older dog if you have not done so already.  Dr. Ian Dunbar has a free online series of instructions:

He also has a video that presents a "proper puppy class":

His site,, offers many very sound videos and written materials to support any phase of a dog's life and behavior.  Be CERTAIN any videos you watch are FROM HIM and not added by other trainers.

Use the house tab to prevent the puppy's inappropriate interaction but give the adult dog time to deal with it her/himself.  That urination may very well have been a mix of anxiety, need to urinate and social statement (affiliation or submission).  Don't allow it to reoccur.  If the puppy is behaving in a manner you do not want to see in the adult dog she becomes, calmly (no anger or hilarity) remove her, using the house tab, and ask for simple "sit" which you can then reward.  Always redirect unwanted behavior (interrupt and ask for simple behavior that can be rewarded) and keep your "eye" on the adult dog you WANT, ignoring and redirecting unwanted behavior.

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QUESTION: I do apologize when I said two year old I meant my little girl not another dog. What can I do about this she grabs her by the arm and pulls her across the floor. And the other behaviors I previously described.

The puppy is attempting to obtain some sort of hierarchy with the child.  Children are an "unknown quantity" to most dogs.  Your puppy is essentially treating your child as it would a litter mate.  The urination may be, as I said before, a byproduct of inadequate opportunity outdoors coupled with fear/anxiety, or it might even be submissive urination.  NO child of any age should be left alone with any dog, not even a neonate (which is what a 12 week old puppy is).  Put the puppy on house tab.  Supervise all interactions between the child and the puppy.  That child is absolutely far too young to know, understand or learn (process) how to co-exist with a dog.  If the problem persists, find a certified applied animal behaviorist.  I doubt you'll need one but, just in case:

Having a two year old toddler is sufficiently challenging without adding a puppy to the mix.  This puppy requires heavy socialization (every single day), a proper puppy class, positive reinforcement training, and calm/patient direction.  So does the toddler.  You have your hands full.

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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

Past/Present Clients
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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