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So as most of you know I have an 9 week puppy and a 15month labrador. The get along very well and seem to love playing together but I'm worried that the pup could get hurt.

Leia ( the puppy) has tried nipping at Simba while fighting for a toy or stick but because of her size she can only reach the underside of his neck and her teeth are still quite small. As far as I can tell she's never gotten a reaction until today. Today she managed to get a bite of Simba's lip and there was an instant reaction he turned and niped her on the scruff of the neck. She yelped but there was no bleeding or other marks.

In my opinion that was the perfect reaction from Simba similar to what I've seen moms do to puppies that get out of hand. Can I trust him to be similarly measured in all circumstances? He's great with all dogs he's met and even the most growly teeth gnashing playing ends with wagging tails and no hurt feelings but I'm worried just based on the potential he has to kill the puppy.

Also I'm almost more worried about him hurting her via trampling. He's big, excitable, and like most labs, not the most coordinated. When I open the door and he sees me I've seen him bowl her over as he comes to say hi. If we rule out him knocking her off a ledge or something, how much damage could just knocking her over like that potentially cause. Simba is about 36 kg and leia is only 12.


Lastly I'm worried about him tiring her out and not letting her rest. Simba has an almost unlimited amount of energy. Leia not quite. They were playing for about 30 minutes in the back yard and I noticed that she was starting to fade, yet he was just getting started. I put him out front and Leia wasted no time in passing out.



Am I being paranoid, could I leave them together? Or are my concerns reasonable? When would it be considered ok to leave them un supervised?
 

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I have a new puppy (she is 14 weeks old now) and a 3 year old adult male who is 47lbs. For the first few weeks I did supervise play a lot. My older dog did trample the puppy a number of times and she came up limping, but recovered within a minute. Baby puppies are really uncoordinated and aren't able to keep up with the athletic moves most adults use in play. Any time they started running, rather than playing mostly in one spot, I would stop it before she got hurt. Now at 14 weeks she is far more athletic and while I still supervise, she hasn't been trampled in a while.

As for the adult dog's reaction, your dog may start to correct the puppy more as she grows and loses her puppy license. My boy is very forgiving even though the puppy hangs from his ears and jowls until he cries. I suspect that he will begin to correct her more as she gets older and he expects more bite inhibition from her. Never scold the adult dog for correcting the puppy - sometimes it can look bad with growls and flashing teeth, but they are lessons the puppy needs to learn. If your lab is generally good with other dogs and well socialized, it's highly unlikely that he would hurt her on purpose. Dogs are very good at sending a message to each other without making contact.

Long story short, yes, I would supervise all play between them. Honestly I would supervise any of my dogs playing, but especially with a puppy. Don't hesitate to break it up or put somebody in time out if things are getting too rough, or one won't stop playing when the other is clearly done. If the adult dog is correcting the puppy and the puppy just isn't getting it, put the puppy in timeout so the adult doesn't feel the need to escalate his correction.
 

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At what age (or developmental milestone) would you do so?
I don't really feel comfortable leaving any dogs alone together if they play rough all the time. Play can escalate into other issues, or a dog can get hurt accidentally. I would only leave dogs unsupervised if they ignored each other and didn't really play.
 

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It's impossible to answer your question about when leaving these two dogs alone would be ok. I know my dogs well. I don't know your dogs at all.

When and if you decide it's ok to leave them alone together, don't leave their collars on. Dogs that are play wrestling can get a tooth or jaw stuck in the other dog's collar.
 

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When and if you decide it's ok to leave them alone together, don't leave their collars on. Dogs that are play wrestling can get a tooth or jaw stuck in the other dog's collar.
^This. Once I was at the shelter and two 5 month old littermates playing wrestling and having a good time in the outdoor run. Then all of a sudden their collars somehow got stuck on each other. When they were struggling to pull apart they panicked and a fight broke out. It was made worse by the fact they were locked together by the neck. a few people had to rush in to break them up.

Also, we have a similar issue going on with a bigger dog and smaller dog. A 15 month old Lab is still kind of a teen, and might be really clumsy. Some younger dogs also don't realize their own strength. What might even be him being "gentle" in his mind, could still really trounce the new pup. I would wait until they're both mature and can just be around each other without any worries--if that can ever happen. I doubt it would be sooner than a year.
 
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