My young dog is picking on my elderly dog. What do I do?


I have a very elderly dog that is almost completely deaf and has very little vision. He is feeble and has difficulty with stairs. Recently I adopted a young dog (about a year old) from the animal shelter. When he thinks I’m not looking he will run and headbutt the elderly dog sending him rolling or slamming into walls. It’s so bad that I’m scared to leave them alone. What can I do to protect him. Is this normal? There are times when the young one looks out for the elderly dog too.

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    4 Responses to “My young dog is picking on my elderly dog. What do I do?”

    1. tarielle_au says:

      Hmmmm, yep this sounds like it could get dangerous for your older dog.

      This is going to be one of two things.

      The the pup might just be over exuberant and wants to get the older dog to play, no matter what. It will be hard to teach a young dog that it’s not okay to do this so as already suggested, the younger dog needs to be thoroughly worn out every day so that it doesn’t go looking to play with the older dog. It also needs to learn some manners around the older dog and that the over the top behaviour is not on but then it’s up to you to be the "be all and end all" of that young dog’s little life.

      The other thing it might be, as Cheryl suggested is a move by the young pup to state it’s position in the pack. This is very difficult to know for sure. Is there any aggression from the younger one? Growling or fighting at all? You don’t say so hopefully this isn’t the case. If this does start then it’s definitely the younger dog wanting to be the leader of the pack.

      I had this problem with my younger dog. She was nearly 2 when she tried on the pack order thing and I had serious problems with the younger dog picking fights with my older dog. I had to go through intensive training with her to teach her the correct place in the pack in our household which was Me as the leader, then the older dog and then her. It didn’t really take too long to correct but I had to be very diligent. I know that one day my older dog might just decide to give up the doggie pack leader role and then the younger one will move up anyway. Then again, she might be one tough old dog till the very end and won’t let the younger one move on up the pack order.

      If I was you I would have gotten two new dogs because the older one will never join in on playing with the younger one. I’m not encouraging you to do that if you are unable to though.

      I am very encouraged that you mention your younger dog looking after the older one so honestly I think it’s puppy play being the problem and not a pack order one. This could still come though so just keep an eye on things and above all, remember that your older dog is still Number 1 dog so make sure the older dog is first with and to get everything. The new dog is always second. This will massively help to avoid any pack challenges down the track anyway. No favouritism to the younger dog.
      I would also keep them separate when you are not home, for your older dog’s safety but don’t lock them away so they can’t see one another. The younger one may need to be crated or put behind a baby gate in a separate room. Whatever works for you.

      I would also think about some obedience training for the younger dog.

      Best of luck

    2. kholran says:

      Pretty normal, yeah. You’ve got a young, active puppy who sees another dog and wants to play. Sounds like he’s not very well versed in proper solicitation, and is trying to get your other dog to play in whatever way he can. At this point, management is probably your best solution. Make sure the new puppy gets plenty of exercise- walks, fetch in the yard, trips to a safe enclosed area to run off steam, etc- so that he’s less likely to want to play while in the house. Don’t leave them unattended together- crate the new pup while you’re not at home or otherwise separate the two when you can’t supervise their interaction. You can also try working on commands like "Leave It" and "Settle", so that you’ll have something to use if he gets too rough.

    3. marci knows best says:

      It is normal but not acceptable for the old dog. The young dog must not be allowed to bully the older dog. Do not leave them together without supervision. Get the new dog into basic obedience NOW. He needs to learn NO and "Leave it" and follow those commands perfectly.

    4. cheryl says:

      i don’t know how big the younger dog is but if it is a small dog, i would pin him so fast if i saw that happening … i had a 10 year old dog when i got a puppy and the pup tried once to bother the older dog … i pinned the pup so fast she didn’t know what was going on … i held her down for several minutes and she never did that again … if you have a big dog then it is more problematic … i would always treat the older dog before the younger dog, feed the older one first, let the older one out the door before the younger one, the younger one has to learn his place in the pack and that is below you and then below the older dog … i also kept my pup in a crate when i wasn’t around so she could not pester him, i think your dog requires that when you are not able to supervise …