If you’ve got yourself a new puppy, good for you! You’re in for a lot of fun. Puppies are hard work, but if you raise them right, you’re going to have a well-mannered canine citizen to enjoy plenty of good years with.
However, if you’ve got an existing dog, you might have to be a tad more careful about how you introduce your new puppy. Assuming your existing dog is well-socialized and patient, your dog and your new pup will still have to iron out the kinks and sort out their pack hierarchy, which shouldn’t take more than an instant.
However, while sorting out their hierarchy, things can get a little disconcerting. The many growls and snarls, for example, can get you worried about whether your existing dog will hurt your pup. In addition, having your new pup’s head disappear into your dog’s mouth isn’t such a happy sight either!
Don’t worry. Your dog isn’t trying to eat your pup. In fact, it would be rare for your puppy to get out of it with anything but some wet fur and a bruised ego.
In this blog post, we’ll look at why adult dogs seem to love putting bits of a young puppy in their mouths, what it means, and what you can do about it.
Why Does My Dog Put My New Puppy In Its Mouth?
Your adult dog might seem to be trying to eat your pup, but this perplexing behavior is anything but aggressive. If your adult dog wanted to hurt your puppy, your puppy would long be missing more than just some fur.
1. Your Dog Is Play Mouthing
Dogs use their mouths to explore and play because it is fun and enjoyable. That’s how they interact with other dogs, animals, and people. It could be because they’re excited or happy and want to play, or they’re curious about something.
If your dog is mouthing you, it’s also possible that they’re just trying to get your attention. Mouthing is a normal dog behavior, but it’s important to train your dog not to mouth people.
Most adult dogs that have received adequate socialization will know how to control their mouthing and not hurt you or your puppy.
Some overly enthusiastic dogs might inadvertently hurt your puppy, and your puppy might yelp in surprise or pain. If it doesn’t happen very often, this is also normal behavior, and your dogs will sort it out. After all, accidents do happen.
Always keep an eye on playtime, especially if you have a boisterous dog and a young, fragile puppy. Although your puppy’s yelps and whines will teach your dog its boundaries, it always pays to keep an eye on them.
2. Your Dog Is Asserting Dominance
You’re going to see your adult dog show several displays of dominance to keep its place in the pack hierarchy. One of these displays is to pin your puppy down with its jaws and grab its muzzle. The muzzle grab is a known dominance display used frequently by mothers with their puppies.
Usually, not much pressure is applied and will not cause any physical harm, and you can clearly see that your dog is simply holding your puppy’s muzzle in its jaws.
This is not meant to cause pain, but merely for your adult dog to tell your puppy that enough is enough and that your pup should stop what they are doing.
Again, this is very normal dog behavior and it is your dog’s way of drawing boundaries for the newcomer. Puppies can be pesky little things that annoy your dog all day trying to get them to play, or wanting attention. Regardless of how patient your dog is, there might come a point in time where they had it.
A well-mannered adult dog will never snap or hurt a puppy, but instead, do things like pin the pup down with its paws or jaws, or do a muzzle grab and hold your pup’s head gently but firmly in its mouth, as if to say “stop that now”.
If your dog grabs too hard, your pup is likely to let out a squeal or yelp, after which, your dog should ease up and let go. All this behavior is normal and is an important part of socializing your new pup. Your adult dog is doing you a favor by teaching your pup tons of new manners!
How Can You Stop It?
You shouldn’t try to stop your dog from putting bits of your puppy in her mouth if she isn’t hurting your pup. The dogs are working out their pack hierarchy, in which your adult dog will be the dominant dog for many months to come until your pup grows old and strong enough to mount a decent challenge.
However, if your dog seems to be bullying your puppy or playing overly rough, you might want to step in and assert YOUR dominance, just so your existing dog doesn’t get too big for her breeches.
Teach the “drop it” command and have her obey it without fail so that the next time she has your puppy’s head in her mouth, she will open on command.
Teaching The “Drop It”
One of the most important commands you can teach your dog is “drop it.” This command can be useful in a variety of situations, from keeping your dog from eating something harmful to preventing him from destroying your favorite pair of shoes.
To do this, you can teach your dog to play “tug”. Let your dog yank on the rope for a while, and when you say “drop it”, offer a treat, and when your dog lets go of the rope, give the treat.
Repeat this several times until your dog starts to understand what you’re asking her to do. Finally, you can start fading the treat away altogether and relying solely on verbal and physical cues.
With a little practice, most dogs will learn the drop it command quickly and be able to follow it in a variety of situations, including getting your new puppy’s head out of its mouth!