HELP! What do I do when my dog is showing his teeth to our new puppy?!?!

Got a new, young, furry love in your life? This is the place for you to ask all of your questions-big or small! Just remember that you are receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a vet or behaviorist! Most important is to remember to have fun with your new fur baby.

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Darwin, CGC

I'm not short!- I'm fun-sized!
Barked: Tue May 3, '11 5:52am PST 
We just brought our new baby, River, home on Sunday!! She is the sweetest little thing.

I recently asked advice on how to make sure this time is not too stressful for Darwin, and was advised to be sure he still receives the same attention and treatment he used to get. We have made sure to do just that.

The first night we brought her home, she was shy and didn't play much. Darwin was very excited to have her and after a bit of sniffing she began to play with him and they just romped around with each other. He then got one of his nylabones and began chewing on it. She immediately walked over and sniffed it. He showed her his teeth and growled a little. We instantly told him "no" and removed the bone.

He has never shown this behavior before. We take him with us to my mother-in-laws and they have a border collie mix (she is a very dominant dog) and he never has these issues with her. They play and he is usually the one with the toy but never shows his teeth if Corona (the border-collie mix) tries to take it. She (Corona) is a dominant, aggressive dog that has attacked Darwin before and it is obvious that he submits to her and knows she's "in charge".

He has begun showing his teeth to River if she tries to play with a toy he has. He will also go take a toy from her if she has one, and we don't want her to learn the behavior of bearing her teeth. He only growled the one time. He also showed his teeth when she ran to his food bowl. And once when she fell off the sofa and landed on him.

We are not sure if we need to correct his behavior when he begins showing his teeth, or if we need to let them figure out who's who in their little "pack".

I want them to be able to play together but also be able to enjoy nylabones without incident. There are times when they will tug on one of the fluffy toys but after awhile, Darwin will decide he wants to chew on it and lays down and will not let her near it.

PLEASE HELP. We very much want this to be a peaceful, aggression-free household.
Darwin, CGC

I'm not short!- I'm fun-sized!
Barked: Tue May 3, '11 6:35am PST 

I meant to ask my question, but got distracted on a rant:
Should we correct Darwin when he does this? Remove the toy? Or should we let them feel each other out and do what they need to do to learn manners and such??

I\\\'ll do- anything for a- treat!
Barked: Tue May 3, '11 7:05am PST 
Some of the things we view as "mean" or "aggressive" are really just an older dog teaching a younger one good manners. When we dogsat a younger pup Lupi growled once or twice in the first couple of days when he jumped in bed with her or sniffed at her food while she was eating, but they both learned very quickly and she was happy to share once she realized he wasn't trying to steal everything from her.
I would make sure that if one has a bone or chew toy, so does the other. Make sure Darwin has a safe place like a crate he can retreat to if he needs quiet time. And help Darwin to see the new pup as a good thing by rewarding him when she's around (not correcting).
Also, you can start working on teaching the puppy good manners so Darwin doesn't have to. Like "leave it" and "off"
Have fun with your puppies!blue dog


Giant Shih Tzu
Barked: Tue May 3, '11 7:46am PST 
I agree with Lupi. Darwin wants to establish boundaries and canine manners in River. You're lucky he hasn't snapped at her to put her in her place! Growing up, we had a Chow Chow mix, and each time we introduced a new puppy, he nicked them. Just a swift little snap to let them know they were to tread a little more carefully around him, and he never did it more than once. If he isn't snarling or constantly lunging at her, I would ignore it and begin basic obedience with the puppy. Also allow more time for Darwin to adjust to the puppy's presence before allowing her to charge up to his food bowl or flop on top of him. Darwin is likely feeling a bit threatened.

Also, about River "learning to bare her teeth". All dogs will bare their teeth, it's basic dog communication. I'm sure she saw her Mother do it plenty of times when she was being taught to not bite too hard.

Edited by author Tue May 3, '11 7:47am PST


I am the Sock- Bandit!!!
Barked: Tue May 3, '11 7:46am PST 
"He then got one of his nylabones and began chewing on it. She immediately walked over and sniffed it. He showed her his teeth and growled a little. We instantly told him "no" and removed the bone."

He's just letting the pup know that the bone is his and to lay off. Growling is communication, it is not always aggression. Totally normal and not really all that threatening considering this is a very recent arrival. What you did though, was give Darwin even more of a reason to protect his bone by removing the bone. He might now make the association: pup comes near my bone, someone takes my bone away. So that can wind up amping the behavior up, he might decide to head the pup off even sooner. Good things don't happen when the pup comes over to sniff what I've got...It might not work that way for Darwin, but it can raise stress levels over bones and toys.

Lupi has got a good point. If Darwin has a bone or toy, try to make sure the youngster has one, too, and redirect the puppy to it only if the little guy really isn't getting it. Most of the time older dogs that were in the house first and puppies work these things out with little human intervention needed. What you ultimately want are dogs that can work things out among themselves without your constant supervision. They'll settle in to a mutual understanding, but they need to be allowed to communicate among themselves to get there. To achieve that you'll need to be a little more hands-off and sit back and watch what develops, you'll know if it gets too serious. I know you're worried about aggression, keep in mind that can make you hyper-vigilant and seeing things from that perspective can make you worry too much. (I've done that in the past) Try to relax and have fun, it really does help.

Im just a little- guy
Barked: Tue May 3, '11 8:55am PST 
I agree with the other posts. This is normal behavior. It sounds like they are getting along nicely. They are playing together, great! Some dogs are not so friendly right away. My mom got a bulldog puppy and her pit mix did not like the new puppy right away. The pit mix would growl at the puppy and would not play. Eventually the 2 bonded. They play together now. Sometimes the introductions can take time.

Don't worry. I would encourage the puppy to play with another toy if this occurs again. I would not correct the adult dog. The puppy should learn to find something else to play with.
Darwin, CGC

I'm not short!- I'm fun-sized!
Barked: Wed May 4, '11 12:20pm PST 
I have been following the advice of all of you and it has been going wonderfully.

I have allowed Darwin to do his thing and show her his teeth and she has begun to learn to leave him alone. I have also made sure if he has a toy she has one as well.

After removing the bone the first time I saw him show teeth (I did this as a knee-jerk reaction to stop aggression) I realized he was just telling her to back off and I allowed him to carry-on chewing on a nylabone with no issues.

Thank you to everyone for your fabulous advice!!

Darwin has had leg issues most of his life and if he plays too roughly he tends to be sore in the rear end. Today he played alot and then took a nap. When he woke up he was stiff and painful. River tried playing with him and he showed his teeth. When she continued trying to play he growled and snapped at her. I then moved River away and gave her a chew toy.

Is this just him trying to tell her he doesn't want to play?


Member Since
Barked: Wed May 4, '11 12:36pm PST 
While I don't mean to alarm you, stiffness after playing is not necessarily normal.

I would get his hips x-rayed and also his spine to see if he has any disk or hip issues.

He could be dysplastic or worse.
Toto, CD, RN, CGC

We don't do- doodles!!!
Barked: Wed May 4, '11 12:57pm PST 
But, in answer to the question, yes, that was also a normal, leave me alone reaction, and she no doubt would have responded correctly and left him alone if you hadn't intervened.
I would strongly suggest that you begin feeding BOTH dogs in crates OR in separate rooms. It seems like most serious problems come up due to food, and by starting them out with their own "personal" and private space those issues won't be a problem ever. I think meals should be relaxing and calm and if they are both concerned about the other one getting THEIR dinner it can't be calm and relaxing for either one. ALL my dogs have always eaten in their crates OR closed in a room such as the bathroom, and I have no food agression/guarding issues with any of them.

Barked: Wed May 4, '11 3:53pm PST 
I agree with Toto on the food thing. We actually just sit on the floor near the dogs to keep Paislee away from the older dogs food, my older dogs have worked out a system of each taking a bite and then removing their head so the other dog gets a bite, once they finish one dish they both move to the other dogs dish and they get along fine but Kai gets snarly with Paislee if she gets near the food and since Paislee needs to eat her puppy food and not the adult food I just redirect her back to her own dish. I tried the crate feeding but Kai won't eat anywhere closed in. I do let Holly go to Paislees dish at the end of the meal to take a bite or two in the hopes that it will curb any resource guarding and it seems to be fine with her if Holly comes and shares for the most part but she does not trust Kai enough and she eats faster and gets a bit agitated if Kai is too close so I keep them seperated enough so that all are relaxed in their eating posture.
I will tell you that Holly has been a huge help in raising up our other 2 dogs but she rules with an iron paw. She puts up with a lot of things out of them and is really really patient but when she thinks they are out of hand she either reprimands them with a nip and loud snarl or if they are playing too rough she uses her front paw and hauls off and 'punches' them off their feet. I of course keep an eye on them when they are together at all times but I have come to trust Holly impecably, she keeps a close eye on her wards and mitigates play when it gets too rough and lets them know when they are breaking house rules like chasing my nephew. I have to admit I was a bit worried and reprimanded Holly the first time she reprimanded Kai and I wish I wouldn't have cause it took 2 days for Holly to interact with her again and I think it made her a bit more out of sorts for a longer period than she would have been at the new arrival. Now we try hard to let the older dogs communicate in dog ways with the puppy and let her know what is acceptable and what is not. We have learned though that special treats can be a resource guarding issue with Kai so we make sure to put plenty of room between them when they get special stuff and keep them separated till everyone has finished. A snarl, even a nip is acceptable here because we have seen over time that that is all that is needed, it only took about 2 to 3 of those out of Holly before each of the younger ones learned and there was never another issue. It is much like the 'mother eye' all she has to do is look at them and if they are doing something wrong they stop and look at her sheepishly and find something else to do. And then Queen Holly looks all satisfied that she is so powerful, lol.
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