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9 Ways To Stop Your Older Dog from Attacking New Puppy

It’s incredibly sad and concerning to witness an older dog attacking the new puppy.

After all, you’ve probably introduced the pup in part hoping that your current dog will benefit too.

Canines don’t like being alone, right?

Well, some do.

But many do enjoy the company and yet they still act seemingly hostile toward a puppy.

What gives?

The reasons why your older dog attacks the puppy include issues you can easily work on.

Depending on the cause, you may need to work with one of them specifically, but more often than not, it’s a combination of keeping the pup in check and training your older dog to accept the new addition.

Why Is My Older Dog Attacking My New Puppy?

Your older dog is attacking your new puppy due to poor socialization, a lack of patience with rambunctious puppies, jealousy, underlying aggression issues, or medical issues causing pain.

The course of action will depend on the cause.

Older dogs with poor socialization might require positive reinforcement to gradually learn to accept the puppy.

Feeling cornered, jealous, or a build-up of annoying acts are also common causes why older dogs attack new puppies.

You could call that a lack of patience with puppies.

A Husky puppy is sneaking up on an older Husky to interact with their face.
Photo by Andrii Spy_k on Shutterstock

It’s not always just your older dog’s fault though.

Sometimes, this comes with a puppy who is naturally extremely energetic and focused on the face, paws, or tail of your other pooch.

If your older dog isn’t used to having pups in his face or was never really good at it, the tips below will work wonders for you.

You suspect jealousy?

Older dogs who are really grumpy about having to share toys, food, or resting spots may benefit from the privileges and 1-on-1 training I discuss below.

Territorial issues require a proper introduction to prevent most issues.

Some dogs are just not suitable for puppies.

If your dog has aggression issues or underlying medical issues, you might put off getting a puppy until these have been fixed.

In short, you need to determine the cause of the bad blood between your canines.

  • Would you rate your older dog as well socialized?
  • Do you provide a safe space?
  • Is the pup up in your dog’s face a lot?
  • Do you spend time with both dogs?
  • Does your older dog have any resource issues (food, toys, etc.)?
  • Is your dog territorial?
  • Any aggression issues or medical issues?

Older Dog Attacking New Puppy: 9 Ways To Stop it!

Stop your older dog from attacking the new puppy by providing a calm safe space, doing 1-on-1 training with your older dog as well as improving the bond between your senior and puppy.

1. Safe Haven

Providing a safe haven where your dog can be alone if he is overwhelmed by the puppy is key.

With a proper space, to which your older dog has access, you can avoid overwhelming them.

Of course, you don’t want to separate the two.

Instead, you have a space dedicated to your older dog where they can go if it’s all a bit too much and the pup won’t be able to follow.

An adult Rhodesian Ridgeback is sitting next to a younger one in a puppy sit.
Photo by Sheeva1 on Shutterstock

2. Protect Your Older Dog

Protect your older dog by understanding their body language and prevent your pup from testing the limits excessively.

If your furry friend shows signs of being uncomfortable, don’t ignore them.

Instead, act and teach your pup how to behave properly.

It’s a thin line since play is natural for puppies and absolutely essential for their development.

However, your pup needs to learn to take corrections from older dogs.

Sometimes, the pup is pretty resistant to accepting the cues, but other times it’s the adult dog who has to learn how to properly correct them.

3. Senior Privileges

Give your senior dog some privileges as this will prevent jealousy and strengthens their position in your household.

Make sure your old pal doesn’t get grumpy because the pup has claimed all his favorite toys.

Don’t constantly feed your pup before you feed your first dog to avoid jealousy.

Physical attention is important for both dogs so make sure not to leave anybody out.

4. 1-on-1 Training

Do some 1-on-1 training with both of your dogs to avoid jealousy and decrease tension.

Training each dog alone occasionally enables you to focus just on them.

Puppies require a lot of basic training and it comes in handy when they don’t get distracted by another dog.

Playing, doing some obedience work, or working on new tricks or commands goes a long way.

5. Bonding Time Together

While 1-on-1 time is awesome, you should also go on adventures together and encourage your dogs to bond with each other.

This is probably one of the main factors for having two dogs that get along well.

Positively reinforce every instance where your dog interacts with the little fella.

6. Socialization

Socializing your puppy is crucial but also having a properly socialized older dog will go a long way.

Ideally, you’ve socialized your adult dog long before introducing a second dog.

7. Exercise puppy

A tired puppy will not be able to provoke the older dog thus avoiding the need for an attack in the first place.

If your puppy is not exercised physically and mentally, they will disturb your older dog.

8. Introduce on neutral grounds

To rule out territorial issues as a reason why your older dog attacks the puppy, you should introduce the dogs on neutral grounds outside.

However, that ship may have sailed if you’re already in a tense situation at home.

9. Rule Out Medical Issues

If you have a senior dog and he is attacking the pup, make sure to rule out medical issues.

Older dogs become disoriented easily and if your pup startles them when sleeping or resting, that’s a recipe for disaster.

Energetic pups may accidentally trigger pain by pawing or biting at sensible parts of your older dog’s body.

If you can’t rule out medical issues as the cause of your older dog’s behavior shift, consult your vet.

Older Dog Bit Puppy and Drew Blood

If your older dog bit the puppy and drew blood, you need to separate them to avoid future accidents and start aggression training with your older dog.

An incident where the older dog seriously harms the pup is not simply due to the grumpiness that can accompany aging.

Sure, the pup may have provoked a response.

However, a bite that draws blood is not a measured response to a puppy being rambunctious.

A person holds a white puppy while petting an older dog.
Photo by Helen Sushitskaya on Shutterstock

That is unless you suspect your puppy himself is suffering from puppy aggression.

Puppy aggression should be worked on immediately but is usually not the root cause of an older dog biting the puppy.

Serious incidents have underlying causes.

Your older dog may have been poorly socialized or not properly introduced to the puppy.

A lack of a safe haven, jealousy, and a generally overexcited pup may contribute to the issue.

But there’s really no excuse that an adult dog went for a full-blown bite.

So let’s start on improving the relationship and making sure your adult dog never does that again.

If your older dog seriously hurt the puppy, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Has your older dog snapped at puppies before?
  2. Is your older dog properly socialized?
  3. Were resources involved in the incident (toys, food, etc.)?
  4. Is your pup high-energy and testing the limits?
  5. Are you working on your pup’s socialization?
  6. Have you provided the older dog with a calm space?
  7. Can you rule out medical issues?

All these questions will help determine whether it was a poor introduction, whether your older dog is not familiar with pups or perhaps even unsuitable, or if there have been signs all along.

Your ultimate goal is to get your older dog to accept your puppy.

By following the steps laid out above, most owners are able to achieve that.

However, since an actual bite has happened, you may have to take a step back and evaluate whether your older dog is suitable for a puppy.

If chances are high your dog will attack the young one again, you’ll have to hire a professional trainer.

Should I Let My Older Dog Snap at My Puppy?

It’s okay for an older dog to correct a puppy and a snap or growl can be part of that but it should be a measured response and never leave a physical mark.

Is snapping at a puppy normal?

A lot of adult dogs have a pretty short fuse with puppies.

Understandably so, when laid-back older dogs meet energetic pups, worlds collide.

Usually, snapping will be preceded by a growl and body language signs that the older dog is not comfortable with the puppy’s energy.

It’s perfectly fine for a dog to occasionally snap at the air if a puppy misbehaves.

However, if you notice that your pup doesn’t really do anything and the older dog seeks your pup out, that’s a problem.

Similarly, if your older dog leaves a physical mark and seems to go beyond what’s reasonable, that’s cause to talk to a professional trainer.

Should I Let My Puppy and Older Dog Fight?

Never let your puppy and older dog fight in any way unless it’s play-fighting which should be accompanied by relaxed body language.

You should never let a dog fight just unfold.

Whatever it is that happened before, you need to stop any serious fight and consult professional help.

How do you know a fight is serious? Body language.

Signs such as hackles, snarling, stiffness, and whale eye are indicators the fight might be serious.

Dogs with a relaxed posture, healthy mouthing behavior, and playful vocalization are usually just play-fighting.

If your older dog is play-fighting with your puppy, that’s a great sign they’re bonding.

Disclaimer: This blog post does not substitute veterinary attention and does not intend to do so. I am not a veterinarian or pet nutritionist. If your dog shows any sign of illness, call your vet.

About Danielle

I am the founder of PawLeaks where I share weekly tips on dog training and behavior. Sharing a passion for dogs and helping owners to solve problems through understanding canine behavior and modification is my number one goal.