Putting a Stop to Puppy Bullying

In the case of two puppies bullying each other, gently intervene each time one puppy starts to overwhelm the other.

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Q. My husband and I got a Miniature Schnauzer puppy, now 13 weeks old, about 3 weeks ago. Two days ago we also purchased an 8-week-old Viszla. The Mini Schnauzer is very aggressive with her play and will bite the Viszla's ears so that he yelps. She will also jump on top of him and chase him around.  My husband and I think our Mini Schnauzer is very jealous of the new puppy.

What can we do to make her not so jealous, and less aggressive? The Viszla puppy has snapped back at her a couple times, and even growled. She backed off a little but it’s not long before she starts snapping at him again.  I am afraid that when the Viszla grows up (he will probably be 50 pounds), he will find the "power" to stand up for himself and be aggressive back, in which case he could really hurt her.

A. As you’ve noticed, raising two puppies simultaneously somehow requires more than twice the energy as raising a single puppy. Right now, your Mini Schnauzer is playing the role of bully over her “little brother,” but you’re right, the tables will likely turn as soon as your Viszla puppy grows larger than his “big sister.” As the surrogate “parents” of your puppies it’s up to you and your husband to gently and faithfully intervene whenever one puppy starts to overwhelm the other.

When you see either of the puppies starting to bully the other, calmly separate them and give both puppies a quiet 5-minute timeout. This will allow them both to relax for a few moments, which will lower their stress levels. When timeout ends and you bring them together again, start with a leash on the one who was bullying the other to control that puppy’s behavior for the first few minutes, so the bullying doesn’t start right back up again.

Sometimes competitive jealousy-motivated behavior between dogs occurs only when the owners are present. In other cases, dogs will guard resources – food, toys and space – from sibling dogs even in the owners’ absence. Resource-guarding behavior must be carefully managed to assure that neither dog makes life miserable for the other. If either of your puppies does that, you must separate them for safety sake any time you leave them unattended.

It would be advisable to enroll both puppies in a puppy kindergarten class that focuses on both manners and social skills. With the guidance of an experienced dog trainer as your instructor, you and your husband will learn how to help your puppies get along better and, at the same time, they will be learning to look to you for guidance.


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