Is your puppy playing too rough with your older dog? 14 Tips

Is your puppy playing too rough?

You’ve just bought a new puppy, and you’re excited for the little one to meet their new friend. They meet, and you start to notice your little one is playing too rough with your dog. If so you’re probably wondering if you should intervene and what you can do to stop your puppy from playing too rough with your older dog.

You’ll be relieved to know that it’s quite common for puppies to play rough with older dogs. However, you should try to determine if their play seems inappropriate or not.

How do you know if dogs are playing too rough?

[1] Become An Expert

You are the expert with your dog- there will be few people if any who know your dog as well as you. 

And so, when it comes to play, you need to decide what is a normal and acceptable level of roughness or aggression when it comes to your dogs playing together

You can learn if one or your dogs isn’t enjoying their playtime by examining their movements. Hold your older dog by their collar and If your dog buries their head into you and feels relieved from your interruption then this is an indication they’re not enjoying their playtime all that much.

[2] Spy on Them

If you are really concerned about the interaction between your dogs then you might consider investing in an indoor security camera. 

These cameras start at around $30 and they will allow you to keep a watching eye on your dogs when you aren’t at home.

Most security cameras on the market come with an app for your phone that allows you to view a live feed of your camera no matter where you are in the world. 

I mean, you might already have one of these cameras and just not be using it for this purpose.

And the reason to use the camera is because it could be that your puppy’s over the top behaviour might be a form of attention seeking because you are there.

How do the dog’s interact when you’re not there?

[3] Consistent Intervention

Once you have decided what is an appropriate level of rough and tumble for your two dogs, try to always intervene at this “level”. 

Consistency will make it easier for you- because you have a baseline but it will also be better for your dogs- over time they will benefit from your intervention and they might even start to learn when they are going too far.

If so, this is when you should intervene. It’s great when dogs play but, if it’s too much for your older dog then you should try to manage your puppies behaviour.  You may be asking yourself how to manage this behaviour and if you should even allow your puppy to play with your older dog.

[4] Get Some Background

Depending on where you got your puppy from, talk to the breeders or the rescue shelter and get as much background on your puppy’s play behaviour as you can.

Is the type of behaviour and levels of roughness that you are witnessing similar to how the puppy has always behaved or is it new? 

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When your puppy was with her littermates, he/she would have been taught what was too rough and when playtime should be over. If your puppy bullied their littermates it’s more than likely they were taught a lesson, other littermates would communicate they don’t like your puppies behaviour by growling or crying. This is often the best communication to teach your puppy what they are doing is wrong. You should try to continue these lessons as your puppy is introduced into your household.

As the owner of your dog, you should ensure your older dog or puppy are not out playing each other. If both your dogs look excited to play then don’t interrupt them. But, playtime should be over as soon as one of them walks away, don’t allow your puppy to harass your older dog as this can cause conflict between them.

So, what can you do?

Here are some tips and tricks you could use to discourage your little one from playing too rough with your older dog and encourage them to be nicer.

[5] Enforce good behaviour and discourage bad

Teach your puppy when game time is over.

Again, you should monitor both your dogs. Don’t allow your new puppy to pester and annoy  your older dog, this will only cause tension between them. Tell your puppy “No” if your older dog is getting fed up. Teaching your puppy to leave your older dog alone, when you believe he’s had enough will make your older dog more enthusiastic to play with your younger dog.

Now, when it comes to training your puppy, you need to reinforce good behaviour. Establish yourself as the leader and enforce your dog’s good behaviour and discourage their bad. If they are being good and obeying by your rules as a leader, offer a treat to tell them they are doing well, this will help your bond with your new puppy.

[6] Is your puppy having enough exercise?

Exercise your new puppy.

Puppies tend to have lots and lots of energy, this means they may bother your older friend during playtime. Try exercising your new puppy by taking them on walks and playing games. Exercising your puppy will help to burn any extra energy they have, so they don’t irritate your older dog too much.

You may want to try taking both dogs on a walk together to establish a bond between them. This can help reduce your new puppies energy levels and in turn benefit both your puppy and older dog’s relationship.

[7] Treat them both equally

Treat both your dogs equally. If your puppy needs to be told “No” do this, and If your older needs to be told “no” then you should also do this. Treat both dogs equally and don’t let one dog overrule the other.  

You may be asking yourself how it is that you can tell your dog “No.”

If so, try to maintain a stern but firm voice, do not  yell as this can scare your little one and make them think they’re in trouble. Have patience and use your body language to show dominance. This will make your dogs more inclined to listen to you. 

For more advice on how to tell your dog “no” visit this page

By treating both your dog’s equally, you can form a clear relationship between you and them. Establishing a clear relationship is important when trying to train your puppy to play better.

[8] Have you tried distracting your puppy?

If you’re finding it hard to separate both your dogs, try distracting your puppy if your older dog needs some space. Play puzzles or games with your new puppy to distract them from bothering your older friend. Tug of war is a great game to play when trying to both distract and tire your puppy out. It’s also great for training, and teaching them manners.

You may find it helpful to read up on different games you can play to keep your puppy occupied. If you want further information then this page is very helpful.

[9] Have you tried creating a safe space for your older dog?

Is your older dog becoming more irritated and angry? 

If so, you want to try creating a safe environment for your dog to go to. Having a new puppy can take a toll on them, just like us your older pup may need some space. Create an area in your house where they can go to and get away. You should consider putting some comfy bedding and chew toys down for them, away from your puppy. Separating your older dog and puppy, will give your older dog some much needed time to cool off.

[10] Plenty of space

One thing that might not be helping the interaction between your two dogs is the size of the space that they are playing in.

If you can, take them outside into your garden or to the local park and let them play. This has really helped me in the past. 

My youngest Golden Retriever (Sylvie) has never had much time for my step daughter’s French Bulldog, Albert.

Albert gets so excited when he comes to see us and he just wants to be at the centre of things and just play. He tears around the house like a madman

Sylvie wants none of it. 

She really isn’t interested at all and very quickly she will get quite snappy and aggressive.

Not that Albert cares because he just doesn’t take no as an answer and he carries on regardless.

And so the vicious cycle continues as Albert gets more excited and Sylvie gets more stressed. 

The only thing that improves the quality of the interaction is when we take them out in the garden. 

I don’t know why it is but Sylvie is much more willing to run and play with Albert in the garden. 

Their interaction is softer and more appropriate. 

Is it that there is more space in the garden? I’m not really sure.  

[11] Nipping it in the bud

Do you think playtime is too rough?

Then you should consider distracting your puppy, like previously mentioned. If your puppy is continuously nipping at your older dog during playtime, you may want to consider distracting your little one with other objects such as chew toys. 

Focusing your puppies attention onto a chew toy can help to reduce this behaviour. If you feel your puppies behaviour is more serious then just being playful, then you should contact your veterinarian to get further advice.

[12] Stop accidents before they happen

You don’t want your new puppy to have a bad relationship with your older dog. If their relationship has started off rocky, and  your puppy is annoying your dog, then you should closely monitor their behaviours. When it’s playtime, ensure you’re supervising your puppy and older dog. Especially if there’s a significant size difference between them.

Keep a close eye on their behaviours and determine when you think it’s time to end their play. Do this by simply separating them both from one another.

[13] Spay or neuter your dog

If you’re still wondering why your Puppy plays too rough with your older dog, you may want to consider spaying or neutering your little one. Dogs like to show dominance, and this may explain why your puppy is playing too rough with your older dog. Spaying or neutering your dog can stop some of these natural impulses, and make their behaviours easier to maintain. 

Was there any behavioural issues before your puppy came home?

Try getting more information about your puppy, doing this will help you to understand why they’re showing this sort of behaviour. Ask your puppy’s previous owners if they noticed any aggressive behaviour in your puppy before. 

Understanding why your puppy is acting this way will make it easier to prevent your little one’s behaviour from annoying your older dog.

[14] Things will pass

When things are at their worst, when you feel that you are not making any progress as your puppy still seems to be way too boisterous with your older dog, it is as well to remember that things won’t always be like this. 

Your puppy won’t always be like this. There is light at the end of the tunnel as most puppies calm down between the ages of 18 – 24 months. 

Their need to constantly be tearing around the house, picking up anything and everything in their mouths and maniacally chewing your most valued possessions will stop as they become older and more boring!

Closing Thoughts

Playtime is important when trying to keep your dogs happy however, establishing when your older dog has had enough is key when trying to ensure both your new puppy and older dog are happy. Closely monitor both dogs and try to give them both space. Dogs are just like us and sometimes they can become overwhelmed, introducing a new puppy is a significant change to your older dog’s life. If you believe your puppies behaviour is something to be concerned about then, you should contact a veterinarian for some extra advice. 

It’s important to remember dogs are like us, they too get tired, fed up and overwhelmed. Keeping both your little one and older dog happy will make building a relationship between them, much easier.