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Hi Jane. My puppy is 12 weeks old and is female. Diego is male 5 yrs. Frieda is female, 5 years, Ortiz is male 8 yrs. Diego and Frieda actually live in Rio Rancho, NM but my sister has been living with me for past 9 months. She was relocating to Rio Rancho, having a home built.
The first attack was more nipping approx 2 weeks ago . Diego seems to be really jealous of honey. He jumped up when I had her on my lap playing. She tries to play with all th adult dogs. Second attempt was last evening. I had puppy on my lap.
Your male, Diego, considers the house his and that he is the alpha male. The other two dogs are visitors and likely it is your sister that pays attention to them. With the puppy, you are showing it a lot of attention and even elevating it to a position highe than the male by putting it on your lap. Puppies know little about acceptable behavior around adult dogs that are not their mother, so once they go to new homes, the resident dogs teach them. They do this by reprimanding them for unacceptable behavior. They usually start by growling at them to show the behavior is unacceptable. If that is ignored, they will move toward lunging at them and trying to nip them. If the pup continues to display behavior the alpha dog feels is unacceptable, then he will have to make the reprimands more physical until the pup learns to behave. Once in a while you will have a little injury but for the most part, there is a lot of snarling biting (no actual injuries or minor injury) and squealing. This is relatively normal behavior.
Behavior that an alpha male might find is unacceptable would include pushing past the alpha dog to get attention first, eating from the alpha's bowl, eating first, grabbing treats or playing with the alpha's toy and all toys are the alphas. So you may have inadvertently be contributing to the problem by showing the pup a lot of attention. So you can help the situation by encouraging the pup to obey the "adult" rules. Additionally, you can show your male attention first and feed him first and be sure he gets out the door before the puppy does.
I also recommend obedience training for your male and puppy. This will teach your male that you are the ultimate boss of the household and it is your place to give the reprimands. Of course, you will need to reprimand the pup when she gets in the alpha dog's space or displays other unwanted behavior including aggravating the older male.
The following site is helpful for teaching you how to train your dog. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.
Training works best if you train at least 30 minutes a day (two 15 minute sessions). I would start making your dog work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It is outlined below.
You can also keep a leash attached to the male and puppy all the time, even if they are short leashes. Then keep an eye on them and use the leashes to issue reprimands in the form of a short tug and firm "NO". You can encourage the behavior you want by giving special treats like hot dog or liver slivers as well.
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Jane all your info is extremely helpful. The only question is the puppy was asleep on my lap when the male jumped up and attacked. This male is one of the visitor dogs.
I'm sorry, for some reason, I thought the offending dog was yours. Your sister's male dog may have already established dominance over your male dog if they have been in the same household together for a couple of months. However, if they haven't, then the male may be trying to move higher up in the pack order by establishing dominance over the lowest ranking pack member which would be the puppy. As a lower ranking member, they would feel they could reprimand the puppy and get away with it. He might even take any frustration with not being able to be the "boss" out on the pup.
Since this is not your dog, there isn't much you can do about the situation. Your sister could start obedience training him and you could help. That would make him see you as the boss. An alternative would be to have him wear a basket muzzle which still allows him to eat, drink and breath normally. The leashing will still help a lot as well. I did forget to mention that sometimes dog can have health issues that might cause sudden aggression including hypothyroidism and any issue that causes pain, so she might want to have a checkup done on her male dog. Read about thes issues below.