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Canine Behavior/Introducing puppy to elderly resident dog


We've been with our male, neutered mixed dog, Moe for 13 years now. About a month ago, we've brought home a 2-month old male golden retriever puppy that we’ve named, Tobey. Moe has free roam around the house but we've opted to have Tobey crated while we're still in the process of housebreaking and getting Moe used to his presence in our house.
During the first few days, Moe although already blinded by cataracts, seemed curious and sniffed around Tobey's crate and peed around it. He wags his tail whenever he sniffs around Tobey's cage and he still does this.
As of now, Moe occasionally pees around Tobey's crate. He still sniffs (still while wagging his tail) around Tobey's crate for a brief moment, lets out a soft whine then leaves as though uninterested. He hasn't really shown any signs of aggression towards Tobey but I'm not yet sure if it's already advisable to let Tobey out of his crate to meet Moe face to face. As a puppy, Tobey could get quite rowdy at times while Moe, being elderly and blind, is usually content to sleep all throughout the day. Given the circumstances, would you recommend a face to face introduction between the two or should we still wait around for Moe to be more accustomed to sharing his home with Tobey? Your thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated. Thank you! :)

FIRST: find a veterinary ophthalmologist.  Your Moe does NOT have to be "blind", cataract surgery is done on dogs without general anesthesia and should be safe (I believe they use a "drip" to keep the dog calm).

SECOND:  Tobey's crate is being abused.  A crate is the last resort for house training and should be, to any dog, a "safe refuge" the dog CHOOSES.  NO PUPPY should be crated all the time (it appears from your question this one is crated for a great deal of time).

THIRD:  a wagging tail means NOTHING.  Have you ever watched K9 Cops on "The Animal Planet"?  While in attack mode, the dogs' tails are wagging.  It's tail set, ear set, other body communication that indicate the whole picture of what Moe is feeling, his thought process, why he is reacting, and what it means.

FOURTH:  Moe is now marking Tobey's crate.  This is not only making it impossible to house train Tobey, but it is also making Tobey highly anxious.  REMOVE THE CRATE.

Tobey can be confined, with one or two strong baby gates, to the kitchen;  Tobey requires heavy socialization OUTSIDE OF YOUR HOME AND YARD, starting TODAY, to everything, every one, children, elderly, cars passing, heavily populated Mall areas, so he will learn to trust and accept all people.  He should also be enrolled in a puppy kindergarten so look for a training venue that has a licensed, heavily credentialed trainer who uses ONLY POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT.  This is a proper puppy class:

FIFTH: You need to study how to immediately begin to use positive reinforcement to train/teach Tobey, in small steps and in short sessions (depending on his age) what you want FROM THE ADULT TOBEY.  See this:

SIXTH: When Tobey is at large in your home (ONLY in the room you are in), keep a house tab on him: short, lightweight leash, that you can use to remove him from furniture (yes he will attempt to get on the furniture), remove him when his rambunctious behavior disturbs Moe (and this removal has to be BENIGN: no direct eye contact, simple removal, walk in a circle, left, then right (changes brain wave patterns), ask for "sit", praise, drop leash, walk away).

SEVENTH:  You must allow Moe to "correct" Tobey's behavior so long as there is no actual blood shed.  Moe will growl, snap, even pin Tobey to the floor and stand over him, but this is the normal statement of higher social hierarchy.  Unfortunately for Moe, at his age (and if his cataracts are not removed due to veterinary decision, NOT yours) he can't hold onto this social position in hierarchy.  But Tobey doesn't KNOW this.  I can't evaluate Tobey's temperament from here and there are far too many Golden Retrievers bred by backyard breeders and other idiots who produce serious temperament flaws in their pups, but the Golden should be highly bid-able, highly motivated to learn, perform on cue/command for reward and praise, and Tobey might very well just continue to grow in your home and not attempt to obtain a place higher than Moe in social hierarchy.  

EIGHTH:  Once a day, walk Tobey and Moe together off your property, parallel to one another.  Allow them to create an affiliation; Moe might ignore Tobey, that's normal and it's OK, but eventually his curiosity will get the better of him.  A daily walk (if there are two of you doing this, that's best) even for five to ten minutes turn around time, will help them to establish a camaraderie that will, eventually, be seen inside your home.

NINTH:  Be sure to greet Moe first (even if he's slow to get to you and Tobey is not), feed him first, give him attention freely while asking Tobey to "sit" FOR EVERYTHING: being fed, petted, taken in/out, played with (and YOU keep the toy at the end of the game).  This will give Tobey a great deal of security and relieve any anxiety that CAN result in "rambunctious behavior". Remember: when a dog is being over crated, especially a young dog, it is extremely jazzed up and not available for instruction or "correction", so STOP.

TENTH:  How to housetrain your puppy: take him out alone, not for long walks; when he urinates, say "good pee, good pee" (or use any special word that means "pee" to you), when he's done pop a tiny treat into his mouth.  If Tobey is under age four months, he is being fed three times daily.  This means he will have to defecate at least three times a day but usually around the same time of day each day.  Feed ONLY high quality kibble that will produce firm, easily passed stool that is easy to pick up.  Purina actually does make a higher quality kibble now.  If Tobey is over four months of age and is not yet house trained, you are to blame.  He should be fed twice daily after four months and NOT puppy food.  His schedule of defecation will become more and more regular.  When he poops, say "good POOP" in a gentle voice and then reward with small treat.  By using "pee" and "poop" (or whatever words you use instead), you are conditioning Tobey: his behavior (urinating, defecating) now has a NAME. In future, you will be able to tell him (cue/command) to "go pee" and/or "go poop" and he will do it, quickly.  Be sure your casual walks with Moe are not involved in the house training but, should Tobey urinate or defecate during these walks, be certain to praise and then expect Moe to "mark over" what Tobey has done.  This is normal.  Praise Moe also.

Hope this helped.

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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

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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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