Introducing a Rottweiler puppy (6months) to an existing older dog

by Jeanne
(Jackson, MS)

We have a 9 year old Sheltie, who has been our only pet since she was a puppy. However, we have had other dogs over to play and she gets along well with them.

My niece had a Rottweiler puppy who is 6 months old now and due to some circumstances with her, she had to find another home for the puppy. She has really loved him and hated to part with him, but needed to find him a good home pretty quickly.

We agreed to take him since we are dog lovers and have a huge backyard for him to play in. He is very good natured and sweet. If we had gotten him as a small pup, I don't think I would be as concerned as I am now, but I am afraid that he will end up hurting the Sheltie. He is very playful, as puppies are, but most puppies aren't as big as a pony! :)

She does not really want to play with him much, she will start to and then I think she becomes afraid of him because of his size. Also, as a curious pup, he will want to sniff her lots while she is doing her business, and as a result she snaps at him (not bites - just snaps at the air).

I am just afraid due to the size difference, he may take offense at the snapping and bite her, which could be fatal to her. However, he has shown no signs of being aggressive to her at all, she is the only aggressor. She just can't seem to let him alone. Even when he lays down, she has to go over to sniff and inspect him, which leads to him thinking she wants to play and starts the cycle again. He is so big that he has knocked her down while playing but only once. I think she may misinterpret his play as aggression though.

Also, when she tries to come to my husband, my son, or myself, the big boy positions himself between her and us and does the same thing is she is trying to go into the house - just kind of blocks her way. I know that is very upsetting for her since she is used to being loved and petted a lot. Are my concerns unfounded, should I let them work it out themselves?

I have told my husband that I don't want to leave them unsupervised together at all for at least this week (we just got him yesterday). She is used to sleeping with us, which we have continued, and he is sleeping in our room in his kennel which is where he slept at his former home. That worked well last night, but seemed kind of mean like we were favoring our older dog. And he did whine quite a bit at the start of the night, which I think was probably due to confusion more than being upset, but we still felt a little guilty.

As you can see, we are a MESS right now. Suggestion on how to handle this situation and what are valid fears and what are not would be most appreciated.

Hi Jeanne
I can see how the sudden addition of this pup to your home is worrying you, and I totally understand.

Your older dog is smaller and she's used to being an 'only child' so it will take a little while for her to adjust and you want to protect her from getting hurt or upset - totally normal. This makes you great dog owners and both she and this Rottie boy are lucky to have you!

Puppies are naturally boisterous, add to that the fact that Rottweiler pups are huge, and clumsy, and extremely loving and yes, it is probably going to be a bit intimidating for your Sheltie to start with. BUT honestly, it sounds as though they're going to work things out between them just fine.

Older dogs are usually very tolerant of puppies (even HUGE ones) because they somehow know that they're babies. Puppies can 'bug' the older dog, but again they seem to instinctively understand and respect the corrections they get from the older dog, and a little bit of growling or snapping is perfectly normal. Also do bear in mind that a pup (or dog) who is scared by being snapped or growled at will squeal loudly and sound as though they're hurt, when in fact no damage at all has been done - except to their pride :)

Obviously his size and general clumsiness MAY mean that he bowls over your older dog, or steps on her or whatever. That happens, so try to limit their boisterous play and step in if you think she is going to get hurt - but don't interfere unless you need to.

It sounds to me as though you're doing things just right and I'd continue to let your Sheltie sleep with you and keep the Rottie pup in his crate, he will learn to accept that. If you end up keeping him, once he's settled in (and settled down) you may want to let them both sleep with you - but that probably won't leave much room in the bed so perhaps he will sleep on a bed in your room. Whatever works for you all is fine.

The only thing I would discourage is the pup's desire to push your older dog out of the way and 'muscle in' on the attention or boss her around. He's an adolescent male (basically a pre-teen in human terms) and it's natural for him to try to find his place in this new 'pack'. But if possible his place should be below the Sheltie in terms of the hierarchy.

If he pushes her away so he can get petted, just give him a verbal correction such as 'No, this is not YOUR turn' or something along those lines and make him move over so you can pet the older dog. He needs to know that you are in charge, not him.

Sometimes, depending on the personality of the individual dogs the older dog is happy to be submissive to the pup, and if this happens later on it's okay. But for now he's the newcomer and you need to help him understand that he's at the bottom of the heap right now, and reinforce this by favoring the older dog. It's not unfair or unkind (although to our human eyes it may seem that way), your pup will understand what you're saying.

Rottweilers get a very bad 'rap' and if you've never owned one before it's easy to misinterpret their behavior or expect the worst. They are very loving, loyal and obedient dogs and make wonderful pets, usually getting along with most other dogs and people. They do have tendency to be a bit stubborn, and can be reserved around strangers, but they should never be aggressive and it sounds as though this pup has a great temperament.

Check out my pages that talk about the Rottweiler Temperament and Rottweiler Behavior as I think they will help you understand this pup better.

Also remember at his age it's natural to challenge authority and to test limits, once he's settled into your home he may do just that, but with firm but loving discipline and lots of love and training he will pass through that stage and emerge as a well-behaved, confident and loving adult.

Hope this helps and puts your mind at rest. I wish you the very best of luck and hope it all works out well for this puppy.

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Jun 02, 2012
Another question.... NEW
by: Jeanne

Just letting you know that my sweet Sheltie and new puppy are getting along well. She is quick to let him know who is in charge and he seems to respect that! :) He really is just a great big good natured puppy! One more question... Neither have been fixed. In you opinion, would it be better to neuter him or spay her. She is 9 years old and I don't know much about the safety of spaying older dogs. I do know I don't want any Sheltie/Rott puppies though - so something will have to be done. Any help would be appreciated!

May 22, 2012
Thanks! NEW
by: Jeanne

Thanks so much for your responses. I guess we knew what to do and expect...I just needed some reassurances that we were doing the right things and you both supplied that. It was great to hear it from people who are familiar with Rottweilers and can speak from experience. Bonnie, I hope all goes well with the hip replacement. We will be thinking of you!

May 21, 2012
Rottweiler puppy (6months) to an existing older dog NEW
by: Bonnie

I have a 11 month old rottie My son and daughter in law have to teney doxins they bring them to my house when they came to visit not to often right now My Barron just loves them he wants to lick them, kiss them and smell all over them and they hate every second of. They have snapped and growled at him, in other words they HATE him. He has NEVER tried to hurt them in any way now they do spend a lot of time on the sofa because we are afraid he will step on them while trying to run away from them Its really funny seeing this small 90 pund horse running from little nothings. Babygirl is a little braver she will go to his bed where he is eating his bone make him move and then begin to eat his bone he just stands there and watches. She has even jumped up and bit him on his lip. Im sure your Sheltie will be the boss of him in no time.Truly they are big love bugs this is my third one and I have never had a problem raised with 2 grandbabies Hope this eases your mind some
My Barron is having a total hip replacement at 11 months tomorrow keep us in your thoughts Bonnie

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