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Older Dog and Puppy Interactions...

642 Views 4 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  3GSD4IPO

In February we introduced our 8.5 year old Pitbull, Cloe (Biggie Doggie), to 8 week old Pitbull, Penny Pearl (Punny Puppy). Both are rescue dogs (and spayed) and met before the adoption. Cloe was confused at first, but was always gentle during play. Penny is very...puppy, for lack of a better explanation and has to have every toy and be everywhere. Cloe has been very lenient with minor corrections, but normally will relinquish her toys or rawhide. She even learned to play with toys she doesn't like to get Penny's attention on them to get the toy she wants.*

They lay by the fire or on pillows together. Cloe will even lay outside of Penny's crate or the door to her room. Penny is crated at night, when we leave, or when we cannot supervise. She has a room and we keep the door shut during quiet time.*

They've always played well, but the play has gotten more rough and tumble, especially when that extra puppy energy kicks in. There's been more mouthing, but they'll normally stop and relax then resume. When it gets too much Cloe will growl to show Penny it's too much...then play bow*and continue. We normally keep Penny leashed so we can catch her to bring her back in.

A week ago they were playing within 5 feet of us in the yard and it escalated, we think Cloe felt cornered, and she snapped and bit Penny. We got them apart and took Penny to the vet. No stitches or anything major. When we got back Cloe came to greet her and gently nosed her then waited outside her door that night.

They were kept separate most of the day and Cloe was gentle and showed concern. They laid down together and Penny showed her normal excitement to see her by wiggling her little butt. So we have no concern about Penny fearing her, but now we're worried it could happen again and how we can reduce or eliminate any issues.

They're never out of sight, but Penny likes to randomly bolt which makes Cloe want to play. Cloe grabbed a rope the other day, jumped off the deck, and bowed to Penny...wagging her tail with her, "let's play" look.

We're focusing even stronger on manners and calm behavior. Both dogs need to sit before anything happens. When we do leash work Cloe walks along side us in the yard. When there's any type of excitement I use a calm, firm voice to control both dogs.*

Our thought was that Penny hit adolescence, lost her puppy card, and Cloe got overly stressed. We've had poor weather which limited outside activity. Both dogs now have thundershirts, we've instituted walks (we have a large fenced yard) so we can stimulate them both while having control, and regular sessions where my wife and I have them next to each other while petting and administering treats. Each dog gets alone time in different rooms and yard time. During treat time Cloe will lay down calmly while Penny sits or lays against her, but we don't want to lull ourselves into complacency.*

We hope the consistency and work on Penny's manners as well as her growth (she's a health 38 lbs. To Cloe's 45) and being cognizant of Cloe's stressors will turn this around and help maintain a peaceful environment. When we see yawning or sense their excitement rise we descalate and give them alone time we their toys.

Aside from the measures stated above, we're restricting play with each other, only gentle contact. All toys have been removed from the common areas...only in their safe spaces, and we regularly swap giving them freedom in the house so they don't feel cooped up.

Cloe is a very cuddly and loving dog. Penny hates baths and Cloe will sit outside the tub to calm her or to stand by her if she gets the hiccups and Penny is a spunky, everything and everyone loving puppy and we want both to stay that way.

We are very determined and my wife claims I have a Saint's patience so I know we can do this, I just want to make sure we're doing it right.

Any advice, tips, or guidance is appreciated and I thank you for taking time to read and share with us.
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General Comments -
1. Puppy license usually doesn't expire until around 10 mos. However, a nipping puppy can get nipped back ... harder.
2. Have both dogs been trained for Bite Inhibition?
3. How bad was the bite and how severe was the incident - Was it a correction that went wrong, was it a quick correction slash, or an angry shake?
4. Around 4 - 5 mos, puppies can get their adult teeth, and they can have sore mouths, getting extra nippy as their teeth come in. Could the correction have been due to that - Cloe would have snarked sharply [b/c Penny bit too hard], when she bit back [in stronger correction?]
5. Was it a silent snap or did she make a sound? And, what was Penny's reaction when corrected [?]
6. When you say 'we got them apart' - Were they fighting, or just playing more vigorously?
7. Just like teenage athletes, two tough dogs can come back happy and bloodied when they play. If you think it is too rough then you need to protect Cloe [!!!] from Penny, and put Penny in a 15 - 30 second timeout. As you suggest, it can be the puppy's fault for escalating, so you have to protect the adult. From what you wrote, I'm guessing that Cloe doesn't usually escalate or get out of control, but responds to the puppy. And, as the puppy approaches 6 mos, she may grow more confident ... and become a bit more of a brat and push things ... So, Cloe may reprimand more harshly ... If Cloe is is 'control' her reprimand may be swift and scary, but not vicious or bloody.
8. If a reprimand gets bloody, I believe that you need to monitor them more ... and keep Penny calmer ... so Cloe doesn't have to 'protect' herself.
9. On the other hand, if there is occasional blood (the equivalent of a bloody nose, mouth, or ear), you have to observe and decide how much is too much.
My nephew has a 90 lb Pit mix. The dog is well-trained, placid, and bullet proof, but he plays very roughly if the other dog can also play roughly. Things don't get out of control, but sometimes a mouth or ear get a little bloodied. If we hear a yelp, we would step in, but I think the injuries are unintended and not as painful as they look. My Lab mix was similar, but he was usually the one bloodied ... when he played with smaller dogs that are happy to let loose with another tough dog. When the dogs are finished, they collapsed calm, tired, and happy [not angry or scared - very important]. So I compare it to too kids wrestling and giggling as they beat the tar out of each other. The end result is important - are they happy and relaxed when finished, and not badly hurt ... Or did things escalate, so we need to calm things down ... You have to watch and judge.
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I agree with hanksimon. I have introduced many a young pup to older dogs over the years (and cats/kittens too). It sounds like Cloe is doing everything correct. She needs to teach young Penny not only how to play but what is acceptable play. It sounds to me as if Cloe was just letting Penny know that she crossed a line. Even as dogs get older, things like this will happen. Not all dogs like exactly the same thing or the same intensity of play. My eldest pup (also the Alpha) still regularly corrects my second eldest and they are 8 and 7.5 years old. She prefers a gentler play and he can get a bit rough so she tells him off when he crosses that line. He will then back down and all is good in land again. Its sounds and looks like she is trying to kill him, but its the natural "corrective" behavior of dogs and no one really ever gets injured. The best you can do is just be watchful and make sure that any incident like this is "corrective" behavior and not actual aggression. Now, if shaking was involved at all I take all that back and would be very leery of letting them rough house.
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You have two females and they have similar social behaviors. At some point one may decide they want to be top dog OR one may decide they do not want to risk losing their place in the family structure. Either way, females can end up hating each other to the point where they will try to kill each other and it never stops.. ever..

I never let my dogs together but I especially do not leave bitches together even when I am right there.
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