My husband and I have a wonderful one and a half year old puppy named Tyler. We love taking him to the dog park to socialize with the other dogs. He is a super mellow dog and loves people and dogs over 6 months. We got him about 5 months ago and noticed that when he meets a young puppy he will go up and casually sniff it. He will then either leave it alone or pin it down and growl and snarl at it.  Does anyone have any ideas on how we can fix this problem?

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At 18 months he is no longer a puppy, but an older teenager looking to see where he can assert himself and testing the limits.  Immediately correct (and really mean it) any aggression he initiates towards dogs or people.  He has to know that you will not tolerate unprovoked aggression for any reason whatsoever.  if you start making excuses for him, you'll be on a very slippery slope.   Some dogs, as they mature, do not like other dogs.  This is quite normal.  If you have such a dog, then you do not allow other dogs to come up close to him.  If you do, you'll have a fight.  Still,  you would not want any display of unprovoked aggression such as barking, growling, lunging just because the other dog is in the same area, like on walks, or behind a fence. 

Help your dog by not letting him be approached by any dog he may not like and correct if he is the one approaching to make mischief.  His behavior towards puppies may escalate to older dogs as well, as he matures further, especially if he is exposed to some other aggressive dog.  At a dog park, you take your chances, as you have no control over the other dogs, their reaction to yours and you cannot correct your dog either.

I agree with Anna, I have a female who I have to watch closely not with pups but other females. It seems to be around high value items to her and dogs in our home. Very rarely has this happened and she is always corrected but it's scary.

Max is fine with puppies/dogs his size or smaller but he does not like big dogs or puppies larger than him who want to play by pouncing on him.  He would play with the Golden next door when she was small but as soon as she got larger than him and still wanted to do the pounce play he would growl.  Katie adores puppies....I think that has to do with her having had 2 litters herself.  If she hears puppies squeaking on the TV she goes nuts, tries to get behind the TV to find those puppies and take care of them.  Watching Too Cute on Animal Planet when it's about puppies drives her nuts.

@ Linda.  You bring up an interesting point.  The following does not apply to Sarha's dog, bur would apply to anyone bringing a new puppy into the home when they already own another adult dog.  The owner of a shop we frequent  recently adopted a Great Pyrenees puppy 12 wks old.  They already had a Border Collie mix 5 or 6 yrs old.  She was asking me about the aggressive behavior the older dog was displaying towards the puppy.  I gave some suggestions, but the problem persisted.  Then I finally saw this 12 wk. old puppy: it was HUGE,  way bigger than a Border Collie and the light bulb came on in my head :-D    The Border Collie, who in the beginning had initiated aggression that had to be corrected and curtailed, was now actually playing with the pup and only occasionally showing aggression.  He was not initiating it, he was simply teaching the huge pup its dog manners, never biting down or causing harm, just warning growls or snapping.  It all looked the same to the owner, but it was not.  I advised her now to monitor things, but allow the older dog to set his limits and teach the pup he needed to be respected.  Here the size of the pup played a definite part, as the Border Collie initially felt threatened in his own home.

@ Anna...I agree although my Bella is always a mom even though she is spayed and will "correct" any dog ( I have a video on my corgi of her correcting a very naughty pup)...she really is my best behaved corgi...Wynn was good with our English Bull Terrier grand dog till she got bigger and was obnoxious: Corgis do know they need to protects their backs it seems! In my home we have dogs correcting others regularly and maybe I have become too used to it but it is nothing aggressive! Actually I notice Bella protecting others and will lay near them and growl at others to stay away...can be a cat or dog.

Anna....I so understand about bringing in a giant sized puppy with an existing adult dog.  We had a rott/shep mix who was about 5 years old.  We then added a 12 week old Irish Wolfhound...huge puppy.  Rascal taught Duffy his manners with playing and eating.  I monitored it to make sure it didn't get out of hand but allowed Rascal to teach the puppy how to behave.  Duffy was an extremely laid back wolfhound anyways which most of the time they are.  Once he was fully adult he deferred to us humans, Rascal and even the cats.  Only twice did I ever see him be aggressive was with 2 strangers that were approaching us on a walk.  He sensed something and let them know.  Of coure his growl sounded like it came from the depts of hell.

Jane...I think you are so right that they know they need to protect their backs.  That's when Max will start backing up with a growl and a nip.  Oh yeah, never leave a female unattended outside.  We had a mutt when I was kid...they didn't alter dogs all that much way back in the dark ages.  He would climb 6 foot chain link fences to get to a female...besides the owner seeing him do it half the puppies looked like him.

The first time I had a female dog I was a young adult.  Stupidly I left her out and she had a visitor.  Oh well I thought, the deed is done so no sense in worrying about it now.  Little did I know that there can be different fathers in the same litter.  I knew nothing about females dogs and reproduction.  Duh...she had 9 puppies and I could pick which ones belonged to who.

I think I'd have to see it in action. Honestly if it's normal "adult correcting obnoxious puppy" behavior, I'd just let it go. If adult dogs DON'T correct puppies, the puppies can get out-of-control in a hurry. If it's actual aggression, then what Anna says applies.

If he turns around and ignores the puppy, but the puppy persists in trying to play, he's already given clear communication that he wants to be left alone and the puppy has ignored him and deserves correcting. In this case, if you punish YOUR dog you will confuse him and the puppy will always harrass him.

One dog turning away completely from another is actually a very clear communication signal. Puppies need to learn to respect this signal, or they grow into adult dogs who unwittingly initiate fights. But they are not born understanding the signal; they learn it by appropriate interactions with adult dogs.

The other thing is some dogs, especially males, just hate puppies. If that is the case I would just keep him away from pups.

My Jack just snarled the other day at a young pittie mix pup who kept jumping on Jack's head despite Jack's repeatedly turning away. Since the pup ignored the growl too, I took my dog away before things got worse....

My Lilliput does not like puppies. When she was younger she would tolerate them up to a point then correct their behavior when she'd had enough. Then she just decided that she didn't like them at all. Almost any puppy that approaches her (at the dog park, so they're over 6 months) is told off immediately. Most of them don't get it the first time, but I don't like to allow Lilli a second attempt, because she really means it. I tell the owner she doesn't like puppies and they are all very willing to move along:) Often I don't recognize a dog as a puppy until I see Lilli's reaction to it.

Why doesn't she like puppies? She used to act like a good mom dog, letting the pups go just far enough, then telling them to stop. Now, she doesn't want to bother with them. But the other day she played a long chase game with a 9 month old Bernese Mountain/Poodle mix, only snarking when he passed her. However, since she isn't being aggressive, just insistent, and it's a simple thing to separate her from the puppies that bother her so much, I'm not concerned.

Now that I'm writing this, I wonder: if you're at the dog park with Tyler, why are there such young puppies there? They really don't belong in that situation, especially if they can be frightened by older dogs, not to mention diseases. Tyler shouldn't be socializing with puppies this young in this environment.


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