Dogcharmer: New pup in an old pack

Separation is not productive.


Dear Tom, 

Jeanette and I were hoping that you could help us. We are very much in need of assistance in integrating our new 5-month-old puppy, Baxter, a male bassett-beagle mix, with our existing 4-year-old littermate brother and sister Lab mixes. Currently Baxter needs to be separated pretty much at all times from Webb and Brandee. The male Lab plays too rough with Baxter the rare times that we have had Baxter and Webb together. Brandee and Baxter play OK together. When all three are outside together playing, a new dynamic develops, where Brandee and Webb team up to go after Baxter. You come highly recommended to us from our neighbors. Thanks. 

Mike and Jeanette.


Dear Mike and Jeanette,

Generally speaking, in the great majority of cases, the best thing you can do to have dogs get along is interfere as little as possible. Let them work it out. After meeting with you, I learned that the worst incident of their rough play was Baxter yelping a couple of times when somewhat overwhelmed with the roughness and size of Brandee and Webb. 

The first thing you want to do is stop keeping them separated so much. Integrate them much more, under supervision. I taught all three dogs “Leave it!” by having them ignore a hot dog on a plate on the floor. Be it a rabbit, a dropped piece of pizza on the sidewalk, or another dog, B, B, and W learned to turn away from whatever they were focused on when they heard, “Leave it!” Mike and Jeanette, if you practice the command with each of the dogs individually a few times, they will be much more cooperative when you feel their play is getting too rough or wild. 

Redirection is also key. If they’re starting to annoy you, redirect their interest with some kind of diversion. Grab some treats (that in itself may grab their attention), and call them to come and sit to earn a treat. Then a minute of “stay” training and decorum is restored. Stay patient, and with your parenting, let them work it out.

 Dogcharmer Tom


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