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Canine Behavior/Adding a third dog to household


We are considering adding a male pup to our household.  We have looked at Maltese and Japanese Chin.  We have 2 Chinese Crested Puffs, Esme, 10 yrs old (she is our rescue) and Bebe, 3 yrs old.  Both are spayed and we've had both since they were pups.  Both are loving and affectionate, but Bebe is the alpha.  We've never had any agression between the two.  Esme does not like to "play" as in rough and tumble and chase, etc.  She loves and accepts other dogs who come over - my mom has a puff female 3 yr old and my best friend has a 1 yr old small puff male - but doesn't get in the mix.  She is happy to just stand around or mill around and is never aggressive, her tail is always waging.  Bebe likes to play and gets into pulling on toys, chasing, wrestling, etc and I think would benefit from a young friend at home.  I do not want to get a 3rd female because I am worried about female aggression.  I have looked at two 4 month old pups, one is a Chin, very docile, friendly, def not the dominant in the litter, likes to snuggle and a Maltese who is also, non-dominant, docile but not overly shy.  Both have excellent breeders, reputable, referenced, etc.  
I would like advice on which pup would work best in our household.

Hey there,

My main consideration would be the kind of energy the new dog has, and whether it would "harmonize" with the energies Esme and Bebe exhibit through their behaviors and emotions.
And just so you know, to me the question of dominance is a non-issue. There's actually no such thing as a dominant or submissive dog. They should really be called "assertive" and "tentative," or "direct" and "indirect."  The idea that dogs want to dominate others as part of a social hierarchy is a myth which got its start in Nazi Germany, which was a VERY hierarchical society with a "strong, alpha male, pack leader."  (If you're interested in learning more on this topic, you can read it here: )
Also, in general terms tail wagging is one of the ways a dog has of expressing some kind of inner tension. And play is one of nature's best ways of reducing tension. It's not necessarily a sign of friendliness. (Another helpful link: ) So even though Esme is 10, it might not be a bad idea to see if you can bring out more playfulness in her. It's really not that hard once you know how. (If you're interested in hearing about some of the play therapy techniques I use, let me know.)
So back to the new dog, and the best fit for Esme and Bebe. It sounds to me like you'd want a dog who's ready and willing to get rough and tumble with Bebe, but whose rough and rowdy energy wouldn't be too much for Esme to handle. (Though who knows, a very playful puppy might be just the ticket to bring Esme out of her "rescue-dog shell" after all these years--which wouldn't be a bad thing.)
If the Chin is friendly, outgoing, and playful, I'd probably choose him because in general the Chin temperament is probably closer to, and a better fit for, two Chinese crested girls than a Maltese would be.
I know, couldn't I have just said that at the beginning, and not gone off all this dominance and tail-wagging info? Anyway, thanks for the question.
Good luck!

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Lee Charles Kelley


I've been training dogs in New York City for nearly 20 years. My training approach and philosophy are based on the way police dogs, search-and-rescue dogs, and detection dogs are trained--through the prey drive, inherited from the wolf. It's true that there's been a shift away from using the "wolf model" in dog training recently, and to some extent, there's a good reason. That's because trainers have been using the wrong model, the one that says you have to be the "alpha" or the pack leader in order to control your dog's behavior. This simply isn't true. In wild wolves there is no dominance hierarchy, no "alpha" wolf, and no pack leader (not in the traditional sense). The pack instinct only exists to enable wolves to hunt large prey by working in harmony. (Wolves who live near garbage dumps, for example, and who don't hunt together, don't form packs.) So if wolves don't have an instinct to "follow the pack leader" or "obey the alpha wolf," how could dogs have inherited it from them?

Years ago, before I became a dog trainer, I noticed that the happiest, most obedient, and best-behaved dogs I met weren't the ones who'd been to a dog trainer or behaviorist; they were the dogs whose owners always had Frisbees and tennis balls on hand. And while it might seem that my approach would only be relevant to high-drive dogs who love fetch and tug-of-war, it isn't. Even something as seemingly unrelated as a housebreaking issue or greeting behavior are often the direct result of a dog's predatory energy not having an acceptable outlet.

All behavior is an expression of energy. So when a dog's energy isn't utilized in a way that feels satisfying to his or her instincts and emotions, that's when behavioral problems develop. Giving the dog an acceptable outlet for its energy will almost always bring the dog's behavior back into alignment with its instincts

Feel free to ask me questions about any training/behavioral issue.



20 years as a dog trainer. I'm also a bestselling author, writing a series of dog-related mystery novels for Avon.

Dog Writers Association of America

Just a natural gift I have for understanding and training dogs

Past/Present Clients
Too numerous to mention.

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