Unfortunately, one of the biggest safety concerns for your doodle, is actually other dogs. Dog fights are one of the top reasons for vet visits each year. And puppies can be at particularly high risk due to their smaller size and immature physical abilities.
Fortunately, there are ways that you can be savvy as an owner and help prevent dog fights before they happen.
First, when it comes to introducing your new puppy to your current dog(s), you should avoid just bringing the puppy inside immediately. Rather, introducing everyone at a neutral area away from the house will reduce the odds of a territorial reaction from the older dog(s) on scene.
An example may be a park or field, somewhere where the first dog does not frequent regularly and thus feels no ownership over. Allowing the dogs to sniff each other on leash and then walk around a bit together is often a good, safe way to introduce the two. Allowing your older dog to then be the first one back into the house
Within your house, feeding your dogs in separate areas (in their respective crates often works well) is key to preventing resource guarding aggression issues. And making sure your older dog has a safe area to retreat to if the puppy play gets to annoying or intense is important. Puppies will play and play and play sometimes to the point of driving an adult dog (or human!) a little crazy.
In order to stop what looks like play from escalating when the adult dog has had enough, the older dog should have a crate or bed or other area of the house that you do not allow the puppy in/on so that your adult dog can always have an exit strategy if he needs a break from the puppy.
The puppy should also have a similar safe place to retreat to as needed.
Even if you have your own household pack managed quite safely, there is still cause for concern from unfamiliar dogs. It is very important that you socialize your puppy to other dogs.
A fearful, reactive adult dog may inadvertently start dog fights, so the more confident your own dog is around other dogs and the better his canine social skills, the less likely he is to be involved in dog fights. So, introducing your doodle to all kinds of other dogs — different sizes, ages, etc. will be incredibly important for his future dog savviness. At the same time, you want to be very careful with how and where you let this socialization occur.
We recommend starting off with puppy playdates or walks with dogs/owners you are familiar with before venturing the often overwhelming world of the dog park or other large scale dog meeting places. Be very vigilant with your new pup as puppies do not yet have good dog social skills so may miss the cues of the older dog politely saying “no thanks, I don’t want to play” and things can escalate from there.
Keeping an eye on your pup and calmly redirecting him if the play seems to be getting too rough or one of the other dogs is showing signs of not enjoying it (i.e. tail-tucking, licking lips and looking away, etc.) Trips to the dog park should be short at first so that your pup doesn’t become overly exhausted or overwhelmed. Keeping his dog interactions short and positive are key to his future success.
The older your pup gets and the more dogs he meets, the better he will be at reading social situations. At the end of the day, a well-socialized pup and a well-trained and closely monitored pack can live in incredible harmony and show an amazing degree of cooperation that we as humans could learn from!
Jenna and the JLDD Team