So we have had our 2 year old lab since she was 10 months old and she's been an only child for 2 years. We just brought a 10 week old puppy home and the 2 year old follows the puppy around the house and constantly watches and stares at her. When the puppy tries to play with a toy though, the 2 year old takes the toy away or tries to push past me and my husband to take the toy. She keeps bowing and pouncing at her and swats her to the ground from time to time.

Though when the puppy nips or bites me and my husband, my dog keeps putting her mouth around the puppy's throat. The puppy doesn't cry, but it makes me nervous. Does my older dog hate the puppy? Why is she so obsessed with what the puppy is doing? Will she hurt her?

The puppy doesn't provoke or try to annoy our older dog and she squeals when she is too rough. I am worried about my older dog being a bully.

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    Not a full answer... if your old one is a little bit socialized (what I assume if it was 10 month by its mum) the puppy has a special place in ranking of the group. It would not be harmed of the older one, because it whines and shows other puppy-like behavior like "show the belly" and such things. This is communication between older and babies. But you should show your dog, that you control the puppy and the old one because you are the boss in this group. The old one maybe think, he has full responsibility about the puppy, this would be stress for both. So in first it is your turn :) Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 4:55
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    For me it looks like the older one take care about the puppy (maybe a little jealous about the toys -> you could differ strictly between "toy of older one" and "toy of little one") and it try to teach the little one best behavior ("do not bite our boss!") This is not false of your older one, but like said above you should carrie the responsibility like parents of an older and a younger child: the older one is a child too and could help but not stand the teaching of the baby alone Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 4:58

2 Answers 2


What your older dog does is textbook parenting. She took over the responsibility of teaching the puppy how to act and what not to do, of course in dog language.

Dogs cannot scold their children with words, revoke TV privileges or put them on house arrest. They use their snouts to reprimand each other. The fact that the puppy didn't yelp or whine means that the older one was gentle in her reprimand.

The bowing and pouncing sounds like the "play bow", an invitation to play in dog language. You should only interrupt her if she's too rough with the puppy. Please have a look at this very instructional video, that explains dog body language in situations like anxiety, aggression and play.

Now the situations you'll want to intervene in:

The older dog snatching up the toy is plain jealousy. She doesn't want to share her toys with the puppy and tries to put them out of the reach of the puppy. This is only acceptable to a small extend. As Allerleirauh wrote in their comment, you could designate some toys the "property" of the older dog, but most toys should be shared by both. Otherwise this jealousy could transform into excessive guarding and aggression soon.

To make it clear, that toys are to be shared, either play with both of them at the same time with the same toy (let both of them have the toy equal amounts of time), or take the toy away if the older wants to hoard it. If they play with each other, let them have the toy. Only take it away if the older one tries to hoard it.

If the puppy already had the toy before it was snatched away, give it back to the puppy and keep the older dog from taking it again. If the puppy didn't have the toy, put it back on the ground and keep your older dog from taking it again for a little while. If the older dog won't give up, take the toy away entirely for a while (like an hour).

And lastly the fixating and following the puppy. You must understand that your older dog took over the job of "nanny" or "teacher" on her own. This happens often if the dog doesn't see anyone else fulfilling the particular job. Someone has to do it, so before no one does it, the dog takes over. You must also understand that taking such a job for a few hours a day is ok, but taking it as a full-time job is very stressful for your dog.

To discourage this behavior, you have to show your older dog that you take over from now on. You have to train your basic command like "sit" and "no"puppy and (gently) reprimand her for bad behavior. You also have to discourage your older dog from following the puppy from time to time. Just call her name, gently pull her aside and engage her in any activity like training, play or cuddling instead.


I gradually get used to the puppy's presence among the older ones, but I keep watching. Until they get used to the puppy and start playing with it without aggression.

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    Welcome to Pets, this answer is a bit too short, please add some more information and optimally some references.
    – lila
    Commented Jan 3, 2021 at 14:04

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