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Categories: Introducing Dogs

Q. One of our dogs, a lab, has always displayed some dog aggression and we just got a Chihuahua. I'm worried about some of the behavior our lab is now showing. What do you suggest?
Hi Ed,

I checked out the other questions as well as read most of the articles on your web site and did not find the specific answer to my concern. I had a quick question. We have a wonderful 3 year old English Lab. She respects us as her pack leaders and is great with our three children (12 year, 9 year and 4 year) as well as any friends or visitors. Our 4 year old brushes her teeth and checks her ears. I can groom her nails etc. and she submits to me... this took work! I was happy to see that we have done most of the things you recommend such as crate training, no laying on the furniture, sit stay command before eating her food, sit/stay while we go down the steps and out the door or car etc. We also have two outdoor cats that she is fine with and even ignores although, when she plays she plays rough with them until they have enough and jump to wear she can't reach them.

The only "problem" we have had is her display of (what I think is) dog aggression however, mild in comparison to some. She will bark and charge the other dog, sometimes her hackles are up and then engage in rough play. She has always been around large dogs and is 70+ lbs herself. My concern is that my brother got my 12 year old daughter a 12 week old Chihuahua puppy for her birthday. I had concerns about this "present." The Chihuahua has only been in our home for two days. We have introduced the dogs (on leash) and it is obvious that our lab wants to "tear it up" with the Chihuahua. She has barked at the Chihuahua and stares at it intently, following it's every move. However, her tail is usually wagging happily and she does not appear to want to "eat" her. My husband and I are always present when the introduction is occurring. After witnessing a couple interactions, I have serious concerns that our lab will kill the Chihuahua. I don't think she would actually try to kill the Chihuahua but because the Chihuahua is so small, I fear that one quick grab or paw from our Lab could fatally injure the Chihuahua. Naturally the Chihuahua freezes with the booming bark but she is not a timid or fearful dog.

Other than telling us that the Chihuahua may not have been a wise choice for our family do you have any suggestions of how to proceed?

Many thanks,
Beth

A. I wrote an article (its also in a free eBook form) on my web site titled HOW TO INTRODUCE A NEW DOG INTO A HOME WITH OTHER DOGS.

You need to be very very careful here. Your sweet dog could very well kill this puppy. I have a folder full of emails from people whose dogs have killed other dogs, most are of people whose dogs knew one another.

Frankly if this were my dog, they would not interact. There is no need for this to happen. Put your female in a crate when the other dog is out.

It sounds like you have done a great job in other areas of living with your dog. A few changes and this will be fine too.

Kind Regards,
Ed
  

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