we have two dogs 11 and 12 years old.  they are both smallish at 20 and 30 pounds.  the 11 year old male is getting grumpier even with his older sister.  my daughter has two older dogs 12 and 15 years old and a puppy not quite a year old.  when our two dogs first interacted with her two older dogs several years ago we had a few minor skirmishes but now they all get along fine.  my daughter fostered some puppies from a rescue and had them evaluated by a trainer that works for the rescue.  she adopted the one the trainer said would be the most challenging because she was willing to put the time and money into helping her be the best dog she can be.  the puppy is a german shepherd/husky mix and weighs about 60 pounds.  we had one visit where we took our dogs to their house and one visit where they came here and everyone played okay those two times.  at thanksgiving, they came for a longer visit and things did not go well.  the puppy would bound over to our dogs and they would both react by barking and growling at her (not playfully).  she tried to show she was friendly by rolling over and showing her belly but they were still not happy.  we only got through the visit by having the dogs take turns in their crates.  The puppy is rambunctious and has some reactivity but did not show any agression at all during the visit.  my daughter has taken her to obedience and agility group classes and has also had private trainers working with them on the reactivity and on calmer meetings but neither issue is totally resolved at this point.  we have talked to the vet about the grumpy dogs attitude to see if there is any physical reason for his increased grumpiness and the vet saw nothing.  also both of our dogs go to day care occasionally and they always tell us they behaved ok.  does any one have any suggestions of  things we can do to make the upcoming christmas visit more enjoyable for everyone?

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  • Your dogs are not at fault here; it's the puppy, and your dogs' response is perfectly normal.
    Most adult dogs, particularly seniors, do not enjoy rambunctious puppies bouncing in their faces. When the puppy is 2 to 3 times their size, it is even more unpleasant for them.
    This is so common that most rescues will not place puppies of any size in homes with senior dogs, and many doggie daycares will also separate by age groups as well as by size. 
    I don't know how long a Christmas visit you are planning, but I would figure out how to prevent the puppy from invading your dogs' space. Maybe someone will need to stay home, or gates/crates could be used. 

    • Plenty of adult dogs do NOT put up with puppies at all.  Toby recently lost some of his "puppy license" with Riley and she reprimands him regularly.  She is still way more patient than a lot of adult dogs I've met though.  

  • Senior dogs, like senior people, can't physically keep up with youngsters.  My suggestion is to rotate who is crated, playing outside, in another room, and with the family.  It's exhausting for you but I don't see much else to do.  If your dogs still occasionally go to day care, send them one or two days of the visit.  Send the puppy on different days.

  • thank you both for your insight.  we did take turns with having the dogs in their kennels or otherwise separate from everyone else over thanksgiving holidays.  certainly we can continue this over christmas.  we were just hoping there might be something we could do to encourage them all to interact peacefully for at least some of the time, so i volunteered to check with my go to source for all things doodle.  thanks again for your replies




    • Perhaps as the puppy matures he'll be more accepted. 
      I know how hard the juggling is. I recently fostered a puppy who was simply too rough for my seniors. 

  • Since this is all temporary, I vote for crate and rotate.  All dogs DO NOT need to be out together all the time.  Manage the situation to make it work and don't worry about it.  My youngest is 2.5 years old and my senior is 12.5 years old.  The youngster is a bulldozer and will ram into her hard when they are outside together.  So they are RARELY outside together loose.  She is old and needs to be protected from him.  I had hoped she would have put him in his place when he was a small pup but she never did.  Too much of a pacifist.  So now it's our job to keep her safe from his exuberant play.  He is FINE in the house with her but he might accidentally hurt her out in the yard because his way of playing is just too rough for her senior body.

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