You Kids Get Off My Lawn! - Why Your Primitive Dog Hates Puppies and How to Deal with It
Aggression towards puppies is terrifying for puppy and owner alike. We make the assumption that adding a puppy to a household should be easy. Who doesn’t love a puppy? But there are dogs who don’t like puppies or confuse them for prey and the puppy pays ultimate the price.
Most adult dogs have never interacted with puppies. To many primitive dogs they are little monsters that need to be corrected, or they are fuzzy bunnies they want to eat. Therefore it is hard for an owner to know how their dog will act. Primitive dogs can sometimes struggle with accepting puppies without proper training, management, and desensitization to help them accept a puppy and not injure them. Therefore caution should always be used when introducing puppies to adult primitive dogs.
Older dogs with limited mobility, pain, or any previous issues with reactivity or aggression should be taken extra seriously. Dogs will be extra protective if they hurt or are practiced at reacting to other dogs. A little bouncing bundle of puppy joy is their greatest nightmare. Protect your puppy and your adult dog by taking careful measures when introducing and interacting. If your primitive dog is greeting puppies outside the home that are not your own, take extra precautions and keep interactions super short. Or even better, just don't interact. Just let them watch the puppy and then move on.
Before allowing an adult dog near a puppy, a barrier should be put up to evaluate the adult dog’s reaction to the presence of puppy without risk of contact. The puppy could be in a crate or behind a gate, but it is important that neither dog can make physical contact. Have the adult dog on a leash so that if anything goes awry you can collect the dog and calm the situation. Observe the adult dog’s reaction but do not restrain them unless there is a risk that they will push down the barrier. Sniffing and whining can be normal but growling, and tooth flashing are concerns. If the adult dog tries to avoid the puppy, allow them. Wiggly playful movements like play-bows are a sign that the dog is ready to interact with the puppy. Any other reaction probably requires some behavioral support and should not be rushed.
For any response other than wiggly play, continue these short exposures, keeping them around 10 minutes in length max, once or twice a day. Otherwise keep them separated with limited visual exposure. Allow your adult dog to smell areas where the puppy has been but no extended visual contact and definitely no physical contact. If wiggly play was present you can allow short play sessions of 3-5 minutes with interruptions to give puppy and adult breaks.
Some dogs will be afraid or uncomfortable with your new puppy. These dogs, if left unrestrained will eventually bite the puppy to keep them away. Slow exposure like mentioned above can help with mild cases. More serious cases where your dog is actively avoiding the puppy with require more behavior modification and we will address this in later articles. In the meantime, do not force interactions.
Some adult dogs will scream, lunge and grab at the puppy. This may be a sign of predatory behaviors. Adult dogs sometimes mistake puppies as prey. In these situations muzzle desensitization is required to eventually introduce the two dogs.
While muzzle training is occurring, continue visual exposure but increase distance to a location where the adult dog will watch the puppy without moving. Once the muzzle is a comfortable part of life, you can start feeding the adult dog while in the same room (with muzzle on and restrained by a leash) with the puppy. This work can take a lot of finesse so we strongly recommend working with a professional. Don’t risk having your dog hurt your puppy.
The primary reason primitive dogs attack puppies is because of rude behaviors on the puppy’s part. It is impossible to keep an eye on a loose puppy at all times and it takes one wrong move of jumping on an adult dog’s face or other rude behavior for the adult to land a bite or worse. If you have an extra exuberant puppy or a reactive or physically sensitive dog, be extra careful once the barrier comes down. I usually leash rambunctious puppies when interacting with adults and lead them away from the adult if they are making too much rude contact. Don’t make your dog discipline the puppy if you can help it. That discipline can go way too far and seriously injure the puppy.
Take introductions very slowly. Don’t just throw them in together. If you have any problems get professional help or contact us. It’s an even longer and harder road if the puppy gets hurt, so take precautions today. Now share your new puppy in the community! We always need some new puppy exposure ;)