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Dog Growling At New Puppy? An Expert's Complete Guide For A Peaceful Home - PawSafe

Dog Growling At New Puppy? An Expert’s Complete Guide For A Peaceful Home

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

dog growling at new puppy

Bringing a new puppy into a home with an established dog can be a moment filled with anticipation and trepidation. Years ago, when I introduced my puppy, Jeremy, to my older dog, Amy, her initial growls were a clear sign of her discomfort. 

As a certified dog behaviorist, I knew that understanding and managing this behavior was crucial for a peaceful coexistence. This article draws on my professional experience and insights from renowned experts like Dr. Patricia McConnell and Ian Dunbar to guide you through integrating a new puppy into your home with a resident dog.

When a new youngster enters the household, it’s not uncommon for the resident dog to growl at the newcomer. This behavior can be alarming for owners, but it’s important to understand why it’s happening and what to do about it before it escalates into a more serious problem.

One reason why a senior dog may growl at a new young dog is to establish dominance. Dogs are pack animals, and they have a natural hierarchy. When a new member joins the pack, the resident dog may feel the need to assert their position. Growling is a way for the dog to communicate to the puppy that they are in charge.

Growls are a form of communication in the canine world. Amy’s growls at Jeremy were her way of setting boundaries, a natural reaction to what she perceived as an invasion of her space. Punishing the growl can often exacerbate the issue, potentially leading to more severe aggression. Instead, respecting Amy’s signals and providing her with her own space was key.

It’s important to note that growling is a natural behavior for dogs, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that the resident dog will be aggressive towards the pup. However, it’s important to monitor their interactions and intervene if necessary to prevent any potential harm.

If you’re experiencing this behavior with your dogs, it’s important to give them time to adjust to each other’s presence. Gradually introduce them to each other and supervise their interactions. With patience and proper training, they can learn to coexist peacefully.

What to Do About an Older Dog Growling at a New Puppy? 

Respect the older dog’s space and signals without punishment. Provide separate safe areas, supervise interactions, and foster positive experiences during shared activities. Ensure each dog has their own resources like food and toys to prevent resource guarding.

It’s also important to teach a puppy how to interact politely with a senior or adult dog. Often, puppies can be overwhelming, trying to play with an older dog who is set in their ways. It’s vital to distract your new pup when they are getting too much, supervise interactions, and intervene if a puppy is getting overexcited or trying to take something away from the resident dog.

I will provide a more in-depth guide to help how to get an adult dog to another dog. But let’s first take a deeper look at the issue.

New Puppy in the House

Introducing a new young dog to the house can be an exciting time for everyone involved. However, it can also be a challenging experience for both the newcomers and any existing dogs in the household. 

We quickly realized that our older dog was feeling territorial and protective of her space and belongings. To ease the transition, we made sure to give our older dog plenty of attention and reassurance, while also setting clear boundaries and rules for both dogs.

We also made sure to supervise their interactions closely and intervene if necessary. We used positive reinforcement techniques to reward good behavior and discourage any negative behavior. We also made sure to give each dog their own space and toys to prevent any conflicts over resources.

Overall, introducing a pup to the house requires patience, consistency, and careful supervision. With time and proper training, our older dog and new family member were able to form a strong bond and coexist peacefully in our home.

Why Your Dog Might Be Growling at the New Puppy

When introducing puppies to your household, it is common for your existing dog to growl. This behavior is not necessarily a sign of aggression, but rather a way for your dog to communicate their feelings. In this section, we will explore some reasons why your dog might be snarling at the new addition.

Establishing Dominance

Dogs are pack animals and have a natural instinct to establish dominance within their pack. When a young dog  is introduced, your dog may feel the need to assert their dominance and show the puppy who is in charge. This can lead to grumbling, snarling, and even snapping.

Fear and Anxiety

Your dog may also be growling at the newcomer out of fear or anxiety. The introduction of a new puppy can be stressful for your dog, especially if they are not used to being around other dogs. Your dog may feel threatened by the pup and snarl as a way to protect themselves.

Resource Guarding

Another reason why your dog might be growling is resource guarding. Dogs can be possessive of their food, toys, and other belongings. When a new dog is introduced, your dog may feel that their resources are being threatened and growl as a way to protect them.

How to Respond to Dogs Showing Aggression To New Young Dogs In The Home

If your dog is growling at a new addition to the family, it’s important to respond appropriately to prevent any harm to either dog. Here are some tips on how to respond to growling:

Don’t Punish the Growl

It’s important to understand that growling is a natural behavior for dogs. Punishing your dog for snarling can actually make the situation worse, as it may teach your dog to suppress their warning signals and resort to more aggressive behavior without warning. Instead, we should respect our dog’s aggression and try to understand why they are feeling uncomfortable.

Create Positive Associations

creating positive association with dogs

To help your dog feel more comfortable around the newcomer, you can try to create positive associations. Offer your dog treats or praise when the puppy is nearby, and gradually increase the amount of time they spend together. This can help your dog associate the puppy with positive experiences, rather than feeling threatened.

Also see our article on how to walk two dogs at once as this is the best way to get your dogs to bond and become a pack.

Separate and Supervise

separate and supervise dogs

If your dog’s snarling is becoming more aggressive, it may be necessary to separate them from the puppy for safety reasons. However, it’s important to supervise any interactions between the two dogs, and gradually reintroduce them once your dog has calmed down. This can help prevent any further aggression and allow your dog to adjust to the new addition to the household.

I closely supervised their initial interactions to ensure safety and to interpret their body language. We went on walks and hikes together, which allowed them to bond in a neutral environment. Play sessions were monitored to ensure they were both comfortable and enjoyed the activity. 

In the picture above you can see Amy beginning to play tug with Jeremy. This was an activity I supervised closely, as both dogs were learning to play politely with each other. But since Amy could quickly become possessive of her toys, I never let them play tug unsupervised.

Creating a Safe Space for Both Dogs

Both Amy and Jeremy had their own crates, giving Amy a safe retreat and preventing any resource guarding. Establishing individual areas for each dog helps maintain harmony and gives both dogs a sense of security.

Remember, it’s important to respond calmly and patiently when your dog is uncomfortable with a newcomer. With time and effort, you can help your dog adjust and create a harmonious household for all members, furry or otherwise.

Respecting Resources and Individuality

Each dog had their own toys and balls for fetch, reinforcing that they didn’t need to compete for resources. They were fed separately, and Jeremy was not allowed to disturb Amy during her meals or when she was enjoying a chew toy. This helped foster mutual respect and individuality.

When to Seek Professional Help

If your dog’s aggression  persists despite your best efforts to manage the situation, it may be time to seek professional help. A qualified dog behaviorist or trainer can help you identify the root cause of the aggression and develop a plan to address it.

Persistent Aggression

If your dog’s snarling escalates to biting or attacking the younger dog, it’s important to seek professional help immediately. This type of aggression can be dangerous and may require specialized training techniques to address.

Extreme Fear

If your dog seems extremely fearful of the pup  and is growling as a defensive response, it’s important to seek professional help to prevent the situation from escalating. A behaviorist or trainer can help you develop a plan to help your dog feel more comfortable and confident around the strange addition.

Remember, seeking professional help is not a sign of weakness or failure as a pet owner. It’s a responsible step to ensure the safety and well-being of all pets involved.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How can I introduce my older dog to a new puppy?

Introducing an older dog to a youngster can be a delicate process. It’s important to introduce them slowly and in a controlled environment. Start by letting them get to know each other through scent by swapping out their bedding or toys. Then, introduce them on neutral ground and supervise their interactions closely. Reward good behavior and never leave them alone together until you are confident that they are getting along.

What are some signs that my older dog is feeling jealous of a new puppy?

Some signs that your older dog may be feeling jealous of a pup include snarling, snapping, and guarding their toys or food. They may also become more vocal or clingy towards you. It’s important to address these behaviors early on and work to prevent any aggression towards the youngster.

Is it common for older dogs to be aggressive towards puppies?

It’s not uncommon for older dogs to be aggressive towards puppies, especially if they are not used to being around them. However, with proper introductions and training, most dogs can learn to get along with a juvenile.

What should I do if my dog attacks my new puppy?

If your dog attacks your young dog, separate them immediately and seek veterinary attention for the puppy. Address any injuries or health concerns and work with a professional trainer to address the aggression. It’s important to keep them separated until you are confident that they can be safely introduced again.

How long does it usually take for a dog to adjust to a new puppy?

Every dog is different, but it can take several weeks for a dog to adjust to a new puppy. It’s important to be patient and provide plenty of positive reinforcement for good behavior. Consistency and routine can also help the adjustment process.

What can I do to stop my dog from growling at my new puppy?

If your dog is snarling at your pup, it’s important to address the behavior early on. Start by separating them and working on obedience training with your dog. Reward good behavior and never punish your dog for growling, as this can make the behavior worse. Seek the help of a professional trainer if the behavior persists.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, introducing a new puppy to a household with an existing dog can be a challenging experience. It is important to monitor the dogs closely and intervene when necessary to prevent any aggressive behavior.

If your dog is growling at the new puppy, it is crucial to address the issue as soon as possible. Seek the help of a professional trainer or behaviorist if needed.

Remember that every dog is different and may require a unique approach. Some dogs may need more time and patience to adjust to a new addition to the family.

Be sure to provide plenty of positive reinforcement for both dogs when they display good behavior towards each other. This can include treats, toys, and verbal praise.

With patience, consistency, and proper training, your dogs can learn to coexist peacefully and become lifelong companions.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe

Author

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.