What to Do If My Older Dog Is Attacking New Puppy


So, you’re excited to take your new puppy home. You introduce the cute fluffball to everyone in the household but then, your older dog didn’t react the way you expect. He may have barked or even tried to behave aggressively towards the new puppy. An older dog attacking a new puppy can be stressful. But don’t worry because there are things you can do to help with the transition and build a harmonious environment for both your puppy and older dog.

1. Establish safe spaces.

The first thing you need to do is to separate your older dog and the new puppy, to keep them both safe. If it’s possible, keep them in separate rooms especially during times of the day when there’s no one around to supervise. Think of it this way: dogs are territorial creatures. Your older dog may feel like the puppy is intruding on his territorial space. You need to give him time before you can get started introducing older dog and puppy interaction.


2. Set boundaries

My dog hates my new puppy. What should I do? If your older dog doesn’t seem pleased when your puppy tries to come near, then it makes sense to set some clear boundaries. For instance, feed them a safe distance away from each other. Resource guarding is one reason why dogs sometimes become aggressive. Whenever one of your dogs is finished eating, remove him from the room immediately to avoid an altercation.

It’s also important to make your older dog feel that he is still the “top dog” in the house. For instance, if you walk in a room and both dogs are there, try greeting the older dog first and ignore the puppy. Greet the puppy once you’ve acknowledged the older dog. This sends a clear message that you consider the older dog the senior canine.

3. Exercise and play

An older dog may get aggressive to puppy because he may find the young one’s hyperactivity and enthusiasm to be bothersome and annoying. So, how can you improve older dog and puppy interaction? Keep your puppy busy! With toys and lots of opportunities to exercise and play, you can keep your puppy calmer, happier, and healthier—and your older dog more welcoming of his presence.


4. Train them separately and together

Is your older dog depressed with new puppy? Continue spending time training and playing with him. Sticking to old routines is important to make him feel that nothing has changed. Your puppy of course could benefit from basic dog training. Crate training can help your puppy grow calmer and more disciplined. If your puppy has his crate to retreat to, this gives your older dog some breathing room and may improve his tolerance when the puppy is around. You can also engage your dogs in training games.

With the help of another person, do training sessions with each of you focusing on one dog. It’s better to do this in the yard or where there’s enough space. Offer treats if they’re able to follow basic commands. By keeping both dogs busy training near each other, you’re allowing them to get accustomed to each other’s presence without the need to make direct contact. Keep these sessions short and end them with playtime with both dogs.

Watch out for food-based aggression during training. If one of the dogs tries to steal the other’s treat or get tense, stop the session immediately.

5. Create positive associations

Is your older dog stressed by new puppy? You can try to create positive associations to modify aggressive behavior. For example, if your dog seems agitated if the puppy comes near while you’re petting your older dog, you can use try this training exercise.

  • Have someone walk your puppy around on a leash while you pet your older dog.
  • Have the person helping you move closer and whenever he does, offer treats to your older dog.
  • When the puppy is taken a little farther away and stop giving treats to your older dog.
  • Keep repeating this exercise to help your older associate having the puppy nearby to receiving treats and praises.

Apply the same type of training in other scenarios your older dog seems to be struggling with.

6. Provide opportunities to bond

How to get older dog to accept puppy? Parallel walking is a good bonding activity that can slowly ease the tension between your two dogs. Once the puppy has completed his shots and is ready to take walks around the block, you can have someone help you walk him alongside your older dog. To do parallel walking effectively:

  • Have another walker take one of the dogs. Both dogs should be properly leashed.
  • One of the walkers should take the lead, a few yards apart, to be followed by the other.
  • Switch the leading position after 10 minutes.
  • After another ten minutes, have the dogs walking side by side, a few yards apart.
  • Remember to stay calm and relaxed as you do this exercise. 


7. Consult an expert

If you feel that the aggression coming from your older dog is more than you can handle, you can enlist the help of a dog behavior professional. An expert would be able to implement some behavior modification techniques more safely and effectively. An overly aggressive dog can cause tension and possible injuries, such as when older dog biting puppy’s neck.


Your older dog and new puppy might need a little time, some training, and lots of supervision to be able to live together in peace and harmony. The important thing is to remember to always give both dogs proper care and attention. Older dogs are usually calmer and well-behaved and in a lot of cases, they may show nothing more than signs of annoyance or irritation around a new puppy. But some dogs may perceive a new puppy as a threat resulting in aggressive behavior. If you see signs of aggression or distress in your new dog, it might also be a good decision to consult the vet or seek help from a professional trainer.


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