You are here:

Canine Behavior/Two year old dog vs seven week old puppy


My two year old terrier, Einstein, is me and my moms pride and joy. We've spoiled him, i admit, but he's a very good dog otherwise. We recently got a seven week old puppy, Benjamin, not really because we wanted to, but because my mom's friend couldn't keep him. She already has five other dogs. BEinstein does not like Benjamin very much. He hasn't tried to attack him or hurt him, but he barks at him a lot or completely avoids him. Now as I said he doesn't attack Benjamin but if we touch the puppy then try to pick up Einstein, he will get really upset and either avoid us or nip at us. Einstein is usually very playful but now he hardly wants to play at all. And he sits in his "leave me alone" spot under the couch much more often. Einstein also wont touch things Benjamin touches and Benjamin likes to eat out of Einstein's bowl when he walks away from it. We set out a separate bowl for the puppy but he still only eats from Einstein's. Benjamin's not an overly energetic puppy, just a bit curious of his new surroundings, so i'm not sure why Einstein seems to dislike him so much when he's usually friendly with other dogs with similar temperaments. Benjamin is a good puppy and I know we could give him a good home but if it's at the expense of Einstein's health and happiness, I'm not sure if i can let that happen. But I don't want Einstein to think that he's in control of who stays and who goes around here.Is Einstein just upset that he's not the center of attention all the time? What should I do about Einstein's behavior?

Well, so far, a non issue but your concern for Einstein (love the name!) is very poignant and I understand.

Einstein, by ignoring Benjamin, even by reprimanding him (a growl, a nip, a curled lip) is making a statement:  "Get behind me, kid, I'm the boss her and don't you forget it."  I don't much like that he "nips" at you after you give attention to Benjamin but, you have admitted that you have "spoiled him".  Terriers are notoriously proprietary and take "charge" quite easily.  Einstein is refusing you "dominance" (picking up a dog is quite dominant) and "unsolicited" sloppy seconds but not in a manner that makes me happy.

Benjamin is eating out of Einstein's bowl: now this might very well be an immature response (seven weeks is a neonate) or even attempt to solicit affiliation with Einstein, but it's not okay.  I suggest they be fed separately, separate rooms, and that Benjamin not be allowed access to Einstein's bowl for any reason (at least not until this resolves).  By approaching Einstein's bowel AFTER Einstein is finished with it, he is making a statement to Einstein of social hierarchy but he must have nutrition that Einstein does not need (being older) and so needs to eat his own food, two to three times daily.  Einstein doesn't "dislike" Benjamin, he is "put out" by his presence and is doing his very best to let Benjamin know and YOU know (and it seems to be working!)  When Einstein retreats to his "leave me alone" spot, this means that particular spot is a place of authority for him.  If you try to coax him out or coerce him, whatever motivates his being there (thought process, learned response, avoidance, etc.) is being rewarded.

Put Einstein in his "place" and Benjamin behind him: make both earn being petted, fed, walked by "sitting" (teaching a neonate puppy or any dog to sit on cue is easy, as the following demonstrates):

Do not allow Benjamin free run of the house unless you are present: confine him to kitchen.  Greet Einstein first, feed him first, acknowledge him first, always for "sit".  When taking them out together, let Einstein go out FIRST after "sitting".  This helps him to understand he is still higher in authority to Benjamin BUT NOT TO YOU.

Try this for the next week and report back using followup feature.

Canine Behavior

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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.

©2017 All rights reserved.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]