Getting a new puppy is an exciting time! It can provide many challenges though, often the usual, house training, nipping, whining when the owner leaves. There is much to teach a young puppy.
One of the biggest questions I am asked is “What do I do when my puppy harasses my older dog?”
This is something we are very much living right now!
We very sadly lost my youngest Whippet Arthur over Christmas, due to a tumor on his spine. It felt far too quiet without his big presence so we recently added a young Whippet to the household, taking us back up to 3 Whippets.
Marley and Ollie adapted wonderfully to Arthur just over 3 years ago, but alas they are not the biggest fan of the new puppy Arkle.
And I can’t hugely blame them! The new pup isn’t as respectful or shy as Arthur was, he sees their reprimands ..then sees if he can get that same reaction again..It’s all just a game to Arkle!
It has created tensions between Marley and Ollie. So for now we are living the calm life, and utilising relaxation zones for each dog. The 3 dogs are rarely loose without any proactive supervision.
What does this mean?
It tends to mean if Puppy is out, then either one of Marley or Ollie are crated or behind a gate. This is because the 3 of them being together can cause conflict or over-excitement which could spill over fast.
It means our day has some structure, and it means we utilise lots of calm puzzle toys and feeders to ensure they are happy in their relaxation zones, and they are happy to nap when its nap time.
If all 3 are out, food is on me at all times, and we are either training – matwork or similar games. Or I am rewarding them for chilling out together or interacting nicely.
This won’t be forever, but while Arkle is a bitey, nippy impulsive little pup, this will be life for a while. It will ensure that bad habits don’t get rehearsed, practise makes perfect and pups don’t tend to just grow out of habits! So instead I am ensuring time together is structured and with a plan in mind.
So what DO I do when Arkle is badgering my older dogs? I do 3 things.
1. I redirect Arkle onto a toy. Chews are no-no for us when they are in a group due to Marley being a guarder. So instead I calmly take hold of pups harness, and I will show him a super fun toy or puppy chew the adults don’t like and get him engaged with that. I will repeat it a few times. IF puppy cannot be redirected from hanging off Marley’s neck, it’s a good sign he is overexcited or overtired. So we reassess and separate them and give pup something else to do, or give him a nap.
2. I think about whether I am meeting their needs or if pup needs help with something. He shouldn’t be obsessed with hanging off from his neck in day to day life. Is he getting enough opportunities to chew? Am I giving him enough playtime with me? Is he getting enough sleep? (SUPER important for young pups!)
3. What can I do to prevent it from happening again? I don’t want this to keep happening.
For example, sometimes pup will do it at exciting times, like when Marley is let out of his crate, or from behind a gate.
When a pattern develops, it’s best to try and alter it. So we do games where me going to Marley’s crate isn’t a big deal, I don’t always let him out. Making him generally more relaxed, I might faff with his crate and return to Arkle and reward him for not rushing the crate. Or I might just scatter loads of Arkles food in his crate with a snuffle mat and keep him busy.
Why not just let them sort it out themselves??
There are loads of reasons why I wouldn’t, it could be a blog in itself. But in the main, it doesn’t work. If an older dog won’t fight back, pup is learning to be a bully. If the older dog is OVER the top with telling them off, that will create a worried puppy.
The experiences they have when young create their long term behaviours and characters.
It is a lot of work for us now, but I know in the long run I will have 3 dogs with good relationships and a household not filled with chaos!
As you can see, we are getting there, the first week was tense but we are making big progress and they are starting to enjoy each other presence without chaos!