I hope you can help:
We just brought home a 7 week old puppy – malti-poo/pom mix. Tiny, less than one pound.
We have a mini-doxie age 12 who is fine with her. However, our 7 year old Giant Schnauzer, 75 pounds, acts like he would like to grab her out of your hands. He has never been aggressive like this,except about his food. He grew up with two mini-doxies. We are afraid to put her around him at all. He has jumped up towards her when we are holding her and acts like he is trying to mouth her.
What should we do? PLEASE ANSWER.
Thank you for any help.
Let’s look at the situation from your Schnauzer’s perspective. He’s a dog of a breed originally designed for herding, driving, and protection. If he’s a normal representative of his breed, he is intelligent, but not willing to blindly obey, with more than a little bit of a stubborn streak. He’s also a resource guarder (you mentioned he’s aggressive about his food).
Now, he sees you with this new 7-week-old puppy, who is roughly the size of a very small rabbit or largish rat. She’s held out of his reach, but fussed over and petted continually. He’s not really sure she’s even a dog, and nobody will let him get a closer look, but all the attention everyone pays this new little ball of fur must mean she’s pretty exciting. Too bad the humans are hogging her all to themselves. If he can just get her in his mouth, he could trot away and figure out exactly what she is without anyone disturbing him.
The description of your Schnauzer’s behavior is a little vague, but it sounds like he’s acting more as though the new puppy is a rabbit or a toy than like it’s a dog he wants to behave aggressively toward. Now, that doesn’t mean “let him have her so he’ll see she’s a fellow dog.” He won’t, necessarily, and the pup could be injured before he figures it out. Plus, there’s always a chance that after he realizes she’s a puppy, he’ll still want to hurt her. So, get a sturdy baby gate and a helpful family member.
Someone should stand on one side of the baby gate with the Schnauzer on a leash, while the other person holds the new puppy on the other side. Start by asking your Schnauzer to calmly respond to commands while the puppy is in view in someone’s arms a few steps back from the gate. When he’s calm and focused with the pup nearby, progress to setting the pup down, still with the gate between the two dogs, and asking him to calmly focus on commands again. Finally, allow him to sniff the pup through the gate for a while, then ask him to back away and respond to some commands. Repeat this a few times.
In addition, let your Schnauzer sniff and sleep with the new puppy’s bedding, which will expose him to her scent. Praise him anytime he behaves calmly while the puppy is in view. If he tries to grab and mouth her, don’t make the situation more exciting by yelling or punishing him; instead, have one person use treats to redirect him to obedience, while the other person silently leaves the room with the puppy.
These tips should ease your Schnauzer’s acceptance of the new addition, but let me follow them with a word of caution: Big Dog, Little Dog altercations are extremely common. Many emergency vets abbreviate them as BDLD or BDLD(LDL), with the LDL standing for (Little Dog Lost). Your new puppy is in serious danger any time she interacts with this 75-pound dog with known resource-guarding issues who has attempted to grab and mouth her in the past.
If ever there were a situation where the help of a licensed Applied Animal Behaviorist would be worth the money, this is it– just think of how much you’ll save compared to emergency vet bills. Someone who is educated and experienced in animal behavior and who can actually observe your dog’s behavior in person, rather than guessing from a text description like I am, would be invaluable to you and your new puppy at this point.