How to Stop an Adult From Being Mean to a Puppy When She Has His Toys

By: David Codr

Published Date: June 21, 2017

Lilo is a two-month-old Australian Shepherd puppy who recently was adopted into a home with four-and-a-half-year-old Terrier Mix Scotty and five-year-old Morkie Ozzy. The dog’s guardians asked to set up a dog behavior training session to stop Scotty from attacking the puppy over toys.

The dogs were excited to meet me when I arrived for the session, jumping up, barking and running around. The puppy was hanging out in a strategic spot in a pretty cute way. You can check it out for yourself in the short video below.

When we sat down to discuss the situation, I was very disappointed to hear that the dog’s vet had recommended putting Scotty to sleep for infrequently going after the puppy when it had toys or bones.

While that sort of dog aggression is not a desired behavior, its hardly unusual when a new dog comes into a home or something that would warrant putting a dog down. After observing the dogs for several hours, I only witnessed two “aggressive” acts from Scotty and they were more correcting or territorial in nature than aggressive.

Its clear to me that this was a case of an established dog trying to assert his position and showing some social grace rust when it came to interacting with the puppy. Combine that with a lack of structure and its surprising that there weren’t more behavior issues than what existed.

I suggested a number of ways for the humans to incorporate structure to help change the leader follower dynamic. It will be necessary for Scotty to stop seeing himself in the leadership position to completely eliminate his occasional aggressive behavior when the puppy has any shared toys.

To help prevent any additional dog attacks from happening, I went over some warning signs to look out for from Scotty. I also shared a few tips to build up a positive association between the adults and the puppy. You can get a few of these free dog training tips in the video below.

I use this counterconditioning approach with a lot of my clients as its so easy and effective. A great example of why dog so many dog behavior expert use this approach to fix dog problems in a wide variety of categories. A great example of why positive dog training works so well.

By the end of the session, Scotty was able to sit contently a few feet away from Lilo while she played with a toy. Now the problem isn’t fixed for good. Constantly enforcing the new rules, providing structure, good leadership and Lilo’s physical development should all add up to an elimination of aggressive dog behavior from Scotty. But the supervision, leadership and practice will need to come from the humans.

In time, I’m betting Scotty and Lilo become fast friends. Im so glad the guardians didnt listen when their veterinarian suggested the way to fix this dog problem was to euthanize Scotty. While his behavior could improve, it was no where near the level where such a drastic measure should be even imagined.

We wrapped up the session by shooting a short Roadmap to Success video. You can watch it in the video below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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