Older dogs letting puppy know when they are annoyed


Last updated 2/12/2020 at 5:11pm

Dear Cathy,

I have three female dogs. Sassy the oldest one is 11 and acts like an old lady. Star is 5 and very energetic. They both are good girls and very loving. A couple of weeks ago, my neighbor gave me Sarina, a 7-week-old puppy who is very energetic and loving.

My problem is, Sarina is teething, and anything and everything goes in her mouth. She has a teething bone and lots of toys. Sassy growls at her if she comes close and has even snapped at her twice. Thankfully, there's been no contact. Star growls and snaps at her. She tries to play with Sarina, but she doesn't like to be a chew toy. Sarina thinks my braid is a pull toy and I'm a chew toy. I tap her nose, tell her no and give her the teething bone or a toy, to no avail.

The girls are jealous, especially Star. When Star is giving me kisses, here comes Sarina. Star gives me a sad look and tries moving away. How can I stop the jealousy and the biting? I don't want to give Sarina back to my neighbor. Help!

- Jimmie, Arlington, Texas

Dear Jimmie,

Sassy and Star are snapping at Sarina to let her know it's not OK to bite them. If they are snapping when she approaches, they may be annoyed by her puppy energy and are telling her they want to be left alone. Growling and snapping are some of the ways that dogs communicate with each other.

There is no need to interfere unless they start fighting. In fact, if you do interfere, it could lead to some jealousy. Let them communicate with each other. Eventually, Sarina will learn what the two older female dogs are saying, and she will adjust her behavior to accommodate them, which is how it should be.

To avoid jealousy issues, don't stop petting one dog to pet the other. For example, if you're petting Star and Sarina comes along, continue petting Star. Sarina needs to wait her turn. I have trained my dog with "not now," to communicate I am not available to him at the moment, and "your turn" so he knows when I am ready to engage him.

You can do that with all your dogs. When you're done petting Star, get up and move to another location before you interact with Sarina. This helps separate the attention and doesn't make Star feel as though she is being pushed aside for the puppy. You might have to do this for a few months, but eventually they will all feel like family and won't mind when you pet one and then pet another.

When you introduce a dog or puppy into an established dog household, there are some adjustments to be made by everyone as the old dogs teach the rules of the home to the new arrival. Please allow a few weeks for this transition to occur.

Finally, give Sarina lots of toys to chew and play with her several times a day. If she is tired, she will be less likely to annoy Sassy and Star.

Dear Cathy,

I have a 2-year-old pit bull/beagle mix. I take him for walks at least three times a day. My problem is, I can't get him to stop eating dog poop. How can I break him of this habit?

- Charles, Valley Stream, New York

Dear Charles,

Coprophagia, which means "eating feces," is fairly common among dogs. No one knows why dogs do it, but theories range from nutritional deficiencies and malabsorption issues to compulsive behavior disorders. Here are some ways to address the problem.

If this is a new behavior, make sure it's not a health problem. Sometimes, dogs start doing new things when they are sick.

Pick up your dog's poop with a bag as soon as he defecates. When on walks, train your dog to "leave it" as soon as he sniffs feces. Use the leash to guide him away from the feces. If he is out in the yard and some distance away from you, shake a can of coins to get his attention, and then say "leave it" when he looks up at you.

Over-the-counter supplements also can make your dog's stool taste bitter and unappetizing. Because dogs are equal opportunity poop eaters, these supplements must be given to every dog in the home so their stool tastes bad too. Try these things and let me know what works for you.


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