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We have a 2 yr old mixed breed (about 80 lbs) that has always been friendly with other dogs including three dogs in the neighborhood. We got a puppy last weekend and he has been very protective of her when she has been around our neighbor's dogs. He has been fine with the other dogs then when the puppy showed up he basically attacked them. How can I curb this behavior? The other dogs weren't trying to hurt the puppy or even behaved aggressively towards her.
 

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This is probably guarding behaviour, which is not "protecting" the young one as much as "claiming" the young one. Understanding this difference is essential in order to understand what you're seeing and plan an approach to dealing with it.

The rule of thumb in these cases would be to remove the stimulus (ie. take the puppy out of the picture) and control the introduction of the puppy to the group slowly. Let the older dog interact with the neighbour's dog and then introduce the puppy slowly to the scene.

What will be important is to break this into baby steps. You may need to take steps like introducing the puppy at the window from inside the house, eventually getting to the point where you stand with the puppy on a lead by the open front door, to taking a few steps from the door, to letting the puppy interact with the other dogs from behind the safety of a fence, etc. etc.

If you break it into small enough steps you should be able to work through those while observing the older dog and "pulling back" in time if you see that the older dog is starting to get tense or goes into guarding mode.

Repetition, a slow build up and patience is really all you need. You may be able to work through some of the steps quickly but if you reach a threshold then you may need to take some time to let your older dog acclimate to that. If you don't push the older dog past its tolerance threshold then he will eventually relax into the idea that the puppy isn't "his" and allow the neighbour's dog to introduce itself.

That's the theory. In practice every dog has a different personality and if the behaviour is well conditioned then you may find yourself at an impasse at some point. If that happens then you should probably consult a professional trainer to help you.

Hope that helps.
 

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Thank you for your suggestion. We discussed doing just this and gradually getting them together in baby steps. I hope this passes quickly and he allows her to make friends :)
 

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I hope this passes quickly and he allows her to make friends :)
There are two things at play here.

First, you want your puppy to be socialized with other dogs. For now you might be best off going to puppy training or taking the puppy to play with the neighbour's dog without the older one present. It's really important, as I'm sure you know, that dogs spend time around other dogs, especially when they are young and still need to learn how to "be a dog". Separating them will allow you to socialize your puppy either way.

The other thing is the mindset of the older dog. The older dog is (very likely) not trying keep your puppy from approaching the neighbour's dog. It is exactly the opposite. It is trying to keep the neighbour's dog from approaching the puppy. Resource guarding is "claiming" behaviour. Your older dog probably believes that the puppy is his and he is defending his "claim" on the puppy.

It's important to understand this. It has nothing to do with the puppy or that the older dog wants to control the social interaction. The older dog has one thing on it's mind, "MINE!". The fact that it's a puppy is largely immaterial. You can see dogs displaying the same behaviour as related to food, a toy or even a favorite place to lay down.

So what has to be broken down is the "claim". Once your older dog does not see the puppy as his possession then everything will all fall into place. This is why you controlling the introduction of the puppy will help. The older dog will start to realize that the puppy isn't his, it's yours and he should (normally) start to act accordingly once that coin drops.

Again, this is all theory and every dog is different but what I'm telling you is the "Cliff Notes" version of what you will find in books and websites if you Google "resource guarding".
 
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