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Canine Behavior/3-4 yr old dog biting new puppy


Hi Madeline, I look forward to your response.  I have a question that you may be able to shed some light on for me.  I have 2 Daschund granddaughters.  One is 3-4 years old (Honey), and the other is a baby, arrived from a breeder about a month ago.  She is a few months old (Sugar).  Honey has adjusted to Sugar's presence, for the most part, but there have been a few incidents where Honey has been aggressive towards Sugar.  Two days ago one of these incidents occurred and Honey actually bit Sugar, causing bleeding on her head, and needed to be pulled off her.  In the past she stopped in response to our daughter's verbal command.  Beth (our daughter) does not see any trigger for these attacks, and was very disturbed by this last one.  Do you think there is a need for professional intervention yet, or do you recommend a book, website, etc that might help Beth.

Hi Donna,

Thank you for your question submission.

Because Beth is unable to identify the triggers for Honey's aggression; and, because Honey aberrantly bit Sugar so severely (I'll explain why I think the behavior is aberrant in a moment...), I would say that Beth needs to work with a professional dog behavior expert and trainer.  

The reason I think the response was aberrant on Honey's part toward Sugar is that puppies usually have a "puppy license" which older dogs "read" and consider, and which has mature dogs allowing pups a "free pass" for behaviors that would not be tolerated by another adult dog. Adult dogs correct and teach pups how to behave appropriately, but appropriate corrections by an adult dog are much less severe than what you've described. The only exceptions are when a puppy is allowed to harass an older dog, the older dog reacts by correcting the pup in increasing magnitudes of correction. If the pup doesn't stop on its own or isn't stopped, the corrections by the other adult dog increase in severity, and a pup can get hurt similar to what you described, and, unfortunately, sometimes worse, so the situation you describe is serious.  

So, if it hasn't been the case that Sugar has been allowed to harass Honey with Honey needing to escalate the magnitude of her corrections each time, then I would offer that it's aberrant that Honey corrected Sugar so severely. Since Sugar is being just what she is, a puppy, I would say the aberrant behavior is on Honey's part if it's devoid of harassment by a puppy. However, such over-corrections resulting in such injures as you describe can be traumatic and have negative and unwanted social and developmental effect on a pup like Sugar and quite possibly have such effects on her for life. As well, it sounds dangerous to have the two dogs together at this time, particularly if Honey is significantly larger than Sugar. With smaller dogs, keep in mind that even a few lbs. can make a huge difference (think ratios and percentages). If a small dog is 20% larger or heavier than another dog, and that can be a four-lb. difference, that difference can be quite significant. As well, the temperament of the dogs needs to be considered in terms of making a choice to defend itself. In any case, it's not a good idea for dogs, one of whom feels she needs to be defending herself, to be freely interacting with each other without addressing the underlying issues of what triggers are provoking the attacks. So, I would strongly suggest find a professional to help, whether that person is a veterinarian behaviorist, or another experienced professional.

There are two books and one DVD set you can look to as resources for help. One is called "Mine," by Dr. Jean Donaldson. Although the book is directed primarily toward owners of dogs who resource guard, most of the exercises and protocols in the book are appropriate for counter-conditioning dogs who are not getting along and changing how they perceive and feel about the other dog.

Another is a book about how to interpret dog body language, by Terry Ryan. Last, there's a dog behavior DVD by Roger Abrantes which may be helpful in this regard as well. All mentioned are available at and most likely through Amazon, too.

I hope this helps, and I'd love an update a few weeks down the road if that's possible.

Thanks again for choosing me to answer your question. Please tell other dog owners that I'm here at Allexperts to help!

Best regards,
Madeline Friedman, M.A.
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Madeline S. Friedman, M.A.


I respond to public questions only. I'm not a veterinarian & do not respond to medical questions.Suggestions: Submit a question in one area of priority, as what I am able to address in this venue is limited. Provide as much detail re: the behavior & issue as you can. Tell me how & if behavior is a change from previous behavior & when the changes occurred. Let me know what you think may have triggered such changes & what you have tried so far to resolve it, & what the results were. Let me know what you want help with & what are your concerns & questions about the behavior. I have set up a payment/donation to myself for responding to questions. I donate most of it to animal shelters & rescues. I keep a small portion for my time. The minimum donation is $25.00 on PayPal. When I see that a donation has been made, I will respond to your question. You will be prompted to make the donation before submitting your question. When you have read & rated my response fairly, which must be at the time you read it, I will refund $5.00 back to you IF YOU REQUEST that I do so in your rating comments. If I ask for more details, please respond as a "follow-up" & not as a new question. If I don't respond to your question, I will refund your donation less $5.00. DO rate me fairly at the end of our exchange. I will be pleased if you DO nominate me for volunteer of the month - why not, if I was generous in my response? I may suggest something you were not necessarily ready to hear, but I am honest in the interest of helping your dog, & that is my goal. Please keep that in mind. Please do NOT contact me privately about Allexperts questions through my e-mail or website unless I have invited you to do so. That is an invasion of my privacy - thank you for respecting it. If you would like to contact me for actual dog training & behavior consulting, you may contact me through my Web site.


Own & operate dog training & behavior consulting businesses, Hoboken Dog Trainer, and ny-njDogTrainer, in the NYC & NYC Metro areas since 2002. Work with thousands of dog owners & their dogs, & shelter & rescue dogs. Active volunteer in dog shelters and rescues (rescues being "no kill" and shelters being municipality-run urban shelters that can and do euthanize dogs). AllExperts volunteer in "Dogs, Category 701" and "Dog Training" and "Canine Behavior" since 2006. When you submit a question, please make sure it's being submitted in the appropriate category as I volunteer in two different categories. Make sure you agree to the Virtual Contract (the instructions I outline for question submissions) and agree to read and rate my response when I answer in the body of your question. I make donations to various animal non-profits based on YOUR ratings. If you don't rate my response, or rate it unfairly, you have just denied a dog rescue org or shelter a donation. Keep that in mind.

Professional Member of APDT for five years Founding Member of Animal Behavior Associates Behavior Education Network Former Board Member of IAABC, appointed by Founder Former Member of IPDTA in Canada Founding member of Behavior Education Network

Chronicle of the Dog (APDT, peer publication, numerous articles) Popular Dog Series magazine, numerous entries AOL in Tonowanda News Morris County News Vermont News Boston NOW New York A.M. Polo Trace Newsletter The Dodo AOL

Counseling Psychology, Caldwell College Animal Science, Rutgers University Master of Arts Degree Permanent New Jersey State Teaching Certification (teach public school and university level) Numerous workshops, lectures, and seminars on dog training and behavior Ongoing self-motivated study in my area of expertise

Awards and Honors
Best Canine Coach Award, 2006, Rondout Valley Instructor's Training Course Society of Illustrators, second place international competition Jellybean Photographics, second place international competition Fashion Institute of Technology "Commitment to Illustration" award

Past/Present Clients
Testimonials from a number of clients appear on my Web site at under "Reviews." My customers include: Puppy owners wanting to get their puppies off to the best start; owners of mature dogs who want their dogs to have more obedience skills; fosters and owners of rescue dogs or shelter dogs; customers with special needs who need to train or retrain their dogs; housetraining and housebreaking; owners who have behavioral issues with their dogs such as house accidents, aggression towards humans, aggression towards other animals, inattentive dogs, unmotivated dogs, overly-exuberant dogs; and, more.

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