Training Dogs And Humans For A More Enjoyable Life Together

By Susan Smith, East Valley Dog Training

Answers to questions are based on the information provided. It’s always a good idea to have your pet thoroughly examined by a veterinarian when having behavior problems. Although I can give general information and management suggestions on serious behavior problems such as aggression, issues such as these can be a very serious problem and a certified dog trainer should be consulted.

I have two dogs, Joey,11 years, and Buster, 4 years. They’ve always got along and all was well until my mother started bringing her new puppy to visit. The puppy was bouncing all over Joey who eventually made a small growl at him which resulted in Buster attacking Joey. Now Buster won’t stop attacking, sometimes drawing blood. I’m very concerned as I have to young daughters although Marshal has never shown any aggression towards them.

There’s a lot going on here, and my advice is to consult a qualified professional for help. I don’t give advice for serious behavior problems in this forum, as I don’t have enough information, and the advice that will help you may not help a similar situation, as each situation needs to be thoroughly evaluated individually.

However, I can talk about a few things and offer some management advice. First, I wouldn’t be concerned about your daughters unless they were to get in the middle of one of these conflicts. Other than that, aggression toward other dogs does not mean that dog will be aggressive to humans, and vice versa. Some dogs are aggressive to both humans and dogs, but it doesn’t sound like that’s an issue, in this case.

Although these dogs have not had conflict in the past, it’s possible that it’s been simmering under the surface and you just weren’t aware of it. Also, the age difference may have something to do with it – it’s not unusual for a young dog in his prime to attack an older dog.

Finally, I would be managing the situation. It’s not fair to Joey to be attacked all the time. He’s older, and has a right to live out his life in peace. If you can predict when these attacks take place (for instance on furniture, around food, when humans are paying attention to one or the other of the dogs, etc.), then don’t put them in that situation. Separate them when feeding, put one or the other in a crate at night, don’t allow them on the furniture together, etc. Also, don’t leave them alone together when you’re gone – put them in separate rooms or crates. Just think about your situation and arrange it so the dogs aren’t put in a position to fight.

If you have questions for the trainer, please send them to:

Susan Smith, CDBC, CPDT-KA, is a dog trainer in San Tan Valley, AZ, specializing in pet dog training as well as cat and parrot training—from obedience behaviors to serious problems such as aggression. She can be contacted at:

Sue is also the owner of Raising Canine, LLC which provides professional education to animal trainers.