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Please help with stressful situation - older dog not accepting puppy.

(5 Posts)
TempsPerdu Fri 20-Jan-17 14:37:52

Hoping to hear from any dog behaviour experts (or just anyone with experience of this!) Asking on behalf of DM, who is at the end of her tether and frequently phoning up to rant! Parents are in their 70s. They've recently brought home a new puppy - she's a 13 week old Coton de tulear, who was meant as a companion for their 6-year-old Bolognese (both bichon types - I realise they're not exactly the best known breeds!)

Basically it's been a bit of a nightmare from the outset. Their older dog (also female) hasn't been socialised particularly well - she's a typically pampered lap-dog, who hasn't been allowed to 'be a proper dog', barely goes off the lead (unless she's out with me and DP, as we sometimes dog-sit) and is often timid with other dogs on walks. She hates the new puppy, who is quite bouncy and full-on - puppy is jumping on her back, nipping ears etc and older dog is reacting either by snarling and baring her teeth or by freezing, cowering and looking terrified. The puppy, meanwhile, is obsessed with her and won't leave her alone - three weeks in, she doesn't seem to be picking up on the older dog's 'leave me alone' signals at all. This seems odd, as this aside she's proving to be a very quick learner in terms of general training and manners. The older dog has become more clingy and whiny since the puppy's arrival (she was pretty bad with separation anxiety to start with) and DM now suspects she may have recently begun wetting around the house, where previously she was perfectly house-trained. According to DM she's basically 'lost her sparkle'.

My parents really aren't coping, and are now on the brink of rehoming the puppy. They've sought advice from the vet, puppy's breeder, various puppy training guides and local puppy training classes and the consensus is to 'give it time', but there doesn't seem to have been any improvement so far. Tbh I'm quite cross with DM about the whole thing, as I suspected this might happen and strongly advised against getting a second dog, but she's very bloody-minded and went ahead anyway. She's also quite impatient, and seems unwilling to wait it out until things potentially improve. sad

Is there any light at the end of the tunnel with this? Will some dogs never accept a younger puppy? DP and I live nearby, and have tried to help out as much as we can, but it's incredibly stressful seeing my parents so stressed out and both dogs so unsettled.

BigusBumus Fri 20-Jan-17 14:47:49

We had the same thing happen when we got a black lab puppy 3 years ago. We already had 2 female Jack Russells, one of whom had always been timid and shown a bit of Fear Aggression with dogs she didn't know. New pup was bouncy and curious and the JRT basically spent her time snarling, showing her teeth and actually snapping at the pup for around about 4 months.

Before I go any further I have to say that now they are inseparable, always together, play happily and the JRT washes the now full grown lab every evening round her eyes and ears as if she was her own puppy.

To get to this point we never left them in the same room together unattended and always kept between them with our legs in the way. We never forced them together nose to nose either. The pup was in a crate at night then and the JRT wasn't so she was able to go up and sniff etc, if she wanted to, without the threat of being leapt on.

The good thing was that the puppy frequently fell into a heavy sleep throughout the day. This was also an opportunity for the JRT to "check her out" kind of thing. The breakthrough came when the puppy was asleep on the sofa one evening next to me. The JRT also jumped up, realised the puppy was already there and kind of shat herself (not literally), but then just squeezed herseld between me and the puppy, so they were touching, and went to sleep herself. The puppy can still be quite submissive, the JRT is very much the boss, but she doesn't snap at her anymore.

I've got no advice apart form that, just wanted to tell you my story so you can see it does get better with time.

Floralnomad Fri 20-Jan-17 15:14:59

My mum had a similar experience but her older dog (11) had lost her companion so was used to another dog in the house although she had never been that good with strange dogs . Unfortunately it never improved and eventually they just lived in different parts of the house except for in the evenings when they all sat in the lounge but the pup was supervised to keep him away from her , they were never safe to be left alone together . Why did your parents get the second dog , it seems a strange thing to do if you know your dog is not that into other dogs .

tabulahrasa Fri 20-Jan-17 15:19:06

Your parents need to step in and intervene when the puppy isn't backing off... If the puppy is going to ignore the older dog's signals this isn't going to just resolve itself with time, not without escalating into a bigger problem.

OobryJoobry Fri 20-Jan-17 19:42:55

I agree with the crate training suggestion from BigusBumus. our older dog has fear aggression issues; we put the puppy in the crate so we knew she was safe and it allowed the older dog to sniff/check her out without being bounced on. Gradually built up time with them together, doing lots of walks and positive reinforcement (ham!) any time the older one showed interest in puppy. Now (after 18 months) they co exist fine. They play occasionally, not as much as puppy would like, but she has eventually learnt to read the signals.

Also remember that the older dog's way of telling the puppy offmight involve lots of noise but that sounds awful to humans but is normal dog communication. (Both mine are terrier cross breed rescue things).

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