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Our adult havanese (3 years old) has been a very skittish dog ever since we brought her home. She was incredibly scared of being held up and strangers. We thought this trauma came from her precious owners because as we later found out she was bred in very bad conditions. She is no longer scared of heights or being picked up now but she is still very afraid of people who she doesn’t see on a regular basis.

4 weeks ago brought home another female havanese puppy and it all seemed to be going well: they do not fight over food and sharing a bowl isn’t a problem (they share a dry food bowl and drink from the same water bowl.They eat from 2 seperate bowls for their wet food). They play together just fine (when the adult dog gets a little too excited and I start to feel like she could unintentionally harm the puppy I seperate them. I try to reward the adult dog whenever she has a positive interaction with the puppy.

But the problem is that sometimes the adult dog gets triggered out of nowhere and shows aggression towards the puppy (charges at him and pins him down until the puppy starts to yelp for help. We immediately seperate them but even when pulling the adult dog away she still tries to charge at him and immediately after being pulled away we can still see her jaw rapidly opening and closing with her teeth as if shes still trying to bite the puppy). We closely monitor their behaviour when they're together and we can sometimes predict the triggers and stop the aggression before it even happens. This has been happening once a day for the past few days. But today there have been 3 instances where she tried to attack the puppy out of thin air without there being any of the past things that would trigger her attack. One of the instances was that the puppy simply walked in the room where she was sleeping.

If you have any suggestions on how to stop these attacks and how to get them to get along better I would greatly appreciate it as I fear that one day she could seriously injure the puppy when I turn away for a second.

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Hi there, and congratulations on your new puppy. I suspect that these attacks by the older dog don't really come out of nowhere, but that all of them have triggers. You are getting good at seeing some of them, but may be missing others that are much more subtle.

there is also the simple fact that the elder dog has been sort of invaded by the puppy, and had no say in the matter. At times she simply wishes the puppy were not there, and when one thinks about it, that makes sense.

the fact that they play together is a very good sign, though, that they will eventually get along as adult dogs.
My suggestion is to start by seriously limiting the time they spend together. Don't allow either the puppy or the adult dog to be free all the time in the house, and at some times when you are playing with or training the puppy, keep the adult dog in another room, and vice versa.
I suspect that part of this is the constant presence of the puppy. If you were a middle aged person and suddenly had a two year old living with you, you would want to have time when you knew you wouldn't be bothered by the toddler, and this is the same thing. For instance, it may be that the adult was sleeping peacefully and it was a case of "oh no, not that puppy again! I was so comfortable all alone!"

If the older dog knows that she doesn't have to deal with the puppy all the time, only at certain times, things may go a lot better. And also, it is very important that you never allow the puppy to pester the older dog to play or interact. You say you are watching the triggers, so you may already be doing this, but I would watch even more closely for tiny signs that the older dog has had enough or isn't wanting to be around the puppy right now.

Turning her head away, licking her lips, dropping her ears or turning her body away would all be signs that she has had enough puppy. It's not really anything the puppy is doing wrong (and you probably know this too), but just the very existence and presence of the puppy. Limiting their time together will help.
Best of luck and let us know how it goes.
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