Is Your Puppy Trying To Dominate An Older Dog?

Cathy wrote to us about her puppy training to constantly dominate and harass her older dog:

“Hi Adam and all: I’m reading the book, and have gone through a lot of your dog training site material. I have some concerns about my puppy that I’d like some advice on: She’s a retriever mix, about 3 months-old. We also have an 8 year-old female pug. This puppy is just relentless with the pug; biting constantly around her legs and neck and jumping on her back. Any corrections have been ineffective, everything from ‘no’ to scruffing the neck to a choker collar. Is she too young for intense correction (like a pinch collar)? And is it even a good idea for this problem? The poor pug is exhausted within minutes of letting them together, but should I just let them work it out?

She is also quite mouthy with us, and eats literally anything and everything when we take walks. It’s all driving me just a little nuts! Thanks for any help!! Cathy ”
Adam replies: Hi, Cathy:

This is one of the reasons I advise against letting puppies interact too much with adult dogs: There may get to a point where the older dog has had enough, and then corrects the puppy. Some dogs can do this, just fine. But other dogs (especially dogs that allow puppies to bully them) will get to a point where they’ve “had enough” and then they snap… and it’s an “over-correction” which is too much for the puppy (way too much) and that ends up coming back to haunt you later in the puppy’s life, in the form of dog aggression.

So, it’s best to keep the dogs separate at this point.

I also advise against using a choke chain on the puppy. The pinch collar is far safer and far more effective. And you don’t need to use any force or muscle to get it to work. If everything else you’ve done to correct the puppy from biting you hasn’t worked, then get a small pinch collar and use it. But save the obedience training stuff for later, after the adult teeth come in (usually between 4-5 months of age). Just use common sense: The mother would use her mouth to correct the puppy, and she would do it with only as much intensity to get her point across, and no more.  Instead of getting hair in your teeth– we use the pinch collar.  But for those other puppy owners reading this, I should caution: This is a last resort. There’s more in the book, which I think you’ll find useful.