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Canine Behavior/Older Dog Not Letting my Other Dog Play with New Puppy


I have 3 dogs well 2 dogs and 1 puppy - our oldest dog is about 10, we are not sure of exact age because she was a rescue.  We have had her for 9 years, our 2nd dog is 7 and our puppy is 5 mths and we have had her for 3 months.  The problem is our oldest dog.  When our 7 year dog and the puppy begin to play the 10 year old dog goes into attack mode towards the 7 year old dog.  The 7 year old dog does not get aggressive back.  The 10 year old dog is very respective to us and responds when we correct her but we have to remove her from the area when the other 2 begin to play because she starts barking then growing at the 7 year old dog and once went to bite her.  Why is the older dog acting this way with the 7 year old dog - the older dogs have been together since the 7 year old dog was 8 weeks old.

The older dog is doing what is called "splitting".....she may have some loss of cognition (age related) or not have ever been socialized to puppies (even while a puppy herself).  The puppy's behavior is alarming her.  She is making a statement to the other dog to "back off".

I suggest you give the 7 yo and puppy a play time when the older dog has been safely and humanely put in a special "place" where she can't hear or see the activity.  In this "place" she should have a toy such as a Buster Cube (as dog rolls it around, food dispenses), a soft bed, and should never perceive confinement as anything but pleasurable (which means she must receive extra special attention, alone, in that space a few times a day for a few minutes).

BE ADVISED that "play" is not, between and among dogs, as it is between and among Human children.  Play can be "fun" for dogs but there is ALWAYS an element of social hierarchy involved.  The 7 YO is actually engaging the puppy in an attempt to establish social hierarchy.  The older dog may be disciplining the 7 yo for doing this.  I can't see anything from here.

The problem here might be further remedied by a visit to a GOOD veterinarian.  Not just any generalist, one who understands dog behavior.  You may tray a veterinary behaviorist from one of the following links:

If your 10 yo is not exhibiting any other unusual confusion, then loss of cognition is not the problem but her anxiety is over the top in regard to that puppy.  The veterinary behaviorist may suggest a medication for her but will also advise you on how to manage the situation before it gets worse.

You may also need the help of a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist whose "eyes on" can give you a very detailed explanation of what is really happening.  You may find one in your area from the following links (NOT A DOG TRAINER, a CAAB):  

Canine Behavior

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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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