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Advice For Aggressive Older Dog

My 8 year old Lab mix has been extra grumpy this past month or so. I understand when she growls when our 9 month old Husky starts pestering her trying to get her to play. What I don't understand is why she'll start growling if she's in the same room chewing on her toy, nowhere near her. She'll just start growling if the Husky comes into the room.


It gets annoying and is a pain, if she jumps up on the bed with her or even lays next to her! It never used to bother her this much unless the Husky was actually touching her or really trying to bother her.

Yesterday she attacked the Husky while I was at work and my husband put a bowl of water down. All he knew was that they were both drinking water and all the sudden the Lab snapped. They haven't gotten in a fight in months which is kind of why I'm confused. They were doing great and then she just snapped for a reason.

I don't know why is she being like this. I've tried almost everything I can think of to get her to stop, but nothing is working. How can I make her stop being so grouchy and stop fighting the Husky?

By Ashley from Seattle, WA

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December 21, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

Ashley, this is a complicated situation that deserves more than a few posts, but let me give it a shot. I understand your problem as we had a similar situation with an older dog and a new puppy. At first they were great buds, then the older one started getting irritated about the younger one thinking he could do whatever he wanted to do. The older one got more territorial and chaos started to prevail. We had to learn it was a power struggle for dominance between the two dogs and (treating them like older children trying to "be the boss" of younger children) had to take steps to remind both who was in charge.. Us, adult humans!


Dogs have a instinctive, pack mentality. If you don't take on the role of the human alpha, leader of the pack, one of the dogs will! Again, it's instinct on the part of the dog to take charge if he or she doesn't perceive another to be an effective leader. The dog shouldn't be "punished" for trying to take the lead, but you, the true human alpha of the pack, must remind the more dominant dog who is actually in charge. (The humans.) Honestly, once the dogs know how much you want to be in charge, most are happy and willing to let you take the lead.

When our older dog got snarly or snarky with the younger dog, we would take him into another room and make him go through a series of "sit, down, stay" commands to remind him who was the "boss." (Us humans!) We would do the same with the younger one when he got a bit cocky. The trick was to discipline them in private. No one, skin or fur, appreciates being corrected in front of others! :-) It works almost every time. (No such thing as perfection, here, but this technique works well for us.)


We still have the occasional spat between the fur boys, but for the most part we all get along. It's important to remember that, skin or fur, all get miffed on occasion and a simple break can sooth a few rattled nerves.

I know this is not nearly detailed enough, but I hope the general idea helps you with your situation. Seriously, I think your older dog is having a few issues with sharing time with the younger one, and the younger one is just pushing the limits, as all youngsters do. I wish you the best of luck.

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December 23, 20100 found this helpful

It is a difficult situation. I believe your lab is getting more frustrated with the presence of the Husky and being less tolerant. It may be that he is in some kind of discomfort, i.e., arthritis, that is making him grumpier. I would have him checked out by a vet who can give him something for any joint pain which will make him happier or give him something to make him a bit more relaxed. Otherwise, I'm afraid he will continue to be grumpy. We had a similar situation and made sure the older dog had her own space because we felt she deserved it. Good luck!!

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December 23, 20100 found this helpful

I agree with kansas cty cindy, but I think another thing you might want to do is take the older dog to the vet. Maybe he is having some pains and isn't feeling his best as he is aging and the little guy is getting on his nerves because of that.

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December 25, 20100 found this helpful

Make sure that equal attention is being paid. Also try to get one on each side of you and pet at the same time and talking to each one softly with lots of affection. This will also assure your lab that the husky isn't any more important than she /he is.
I have a yorkie and he does the same thing exactly with my cats. They can be down the hallway just sitting there and he will be at his bone and run down the hallway to get them. I use this method with him and which ever cat hes after and it seems to work. Good luck and please don't give either one of them up, they need you. Merry Christmas.

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March 22, 20131 found this helpful

My dog is 15 yrs old and has got loads of lumps and bumps, coming up everywhere. Now he is fighting with my 6 yr old dog. The younger dog has been here since he was 10 weeks old, so they are used to each other. If I tell my older dog off, he starts growling at me.

By Susan


March 24, 20130 found this helpful

Remember that your 15 year old dog is a very old dog. I don't know too many aged people who want the young whippersnappers hanging around all the time when the oldies want to sleep! It might also be time to for a vet check up, as the dog may be out of sorts with a painful condition like arthritis or similar and is in pain. I'm grumpy when I hurt! Good luck.

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March 25, 20130 found this helpful

I agree the older dog probably is in pain and doesn't want to be bothered by anyone or anything. If he is not on pain meds maybe time to get on a program from your Vet and make his last years more comfortable.

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December 21, 20100 found this helpful

I have a 10 year old yellow Lab and in the past 4 months he has started to get needy for attention. My husband and I give him a lot of attention as it is, but then he has become aggressive towards our other dog (Walker Hound) and our cat.

This is not like him at all and I was wondering if this is an age related change, or if it is something more serious. Should I take him to a vet? We have never owned a Lab before, so do not know about their life changes as they age. He has always been so gentle and well behaved.

By forensicanthro44 from MT


Advice For Aggressive Older Dog

These are some ideas: If the dog is taking on the Alpha dog character. To stop some of this aggression, The Dog Whisperer said to serve the feed to the aggressive dog last and keep this routine consistent, It' could also a sign of old age, being somewhat crabby natured for lack of patience or too much action going on in it's life. Maybe he needs a break or more outdoor activity as he's not using up his conserved energy.

There's a lot of things could be going on to cause a dog to start being aggressive. Jealousy is another factor. If that's the case, talk to the older dog first and show attention to him first so he feels he's important. Just be sure you know what the problem is. Wouldn't hurt to allow a vet to check your dog over too for any underlying health issue only a vet might notice.

By Lorelei

Advice For Aggressive Older Dog

Hello, It seems to me like your older baby needs a Senior Exam at his Veterinarian. Please take him in, there might be an underlying medical problem. (03/19/2010)

By K9cats

Advice For Aggressive Older Dog

Agree with the poster who already mentioned taking him for a Senior workup at your vet. Often, when personality changes start taking place, the cause is something physical.

Dogs "put on the brave face"--in other words, they tend not to show pain or discomfort until it's what you or I would consider extreme. That's a throwback to canines in the wild: an injured or otherwise weak wolf or feral dog will often be either left behind or destroyed by the pack.

You, your family and your other pets are his pack--I think he's trying to tell you something. Hugs to your older guy:) (03/19/2010)

By PupperMom

Advice For Aggressive Older Dog

I had something like this happen with a dog I had several years ago. Out of the blue, Gunther started attacking Parker whom he grew up with. He would actually stalk Parker and we literally had to put up gates to keep them apart. Parker weighed 135 at the time and Gunther a very solid 110 pounds.

Both dogs were Lab mixes and the whole experience really changed Parker. He was afraid to be anywhere near Gunther. We had no idea why Gunther had such a change in his personality, not to mention he was only 4 years old.

Several weeks later while petting Gunther he cried out in pain when I petted him and I immediately checked out his entire body for any reason he would be in so much pain.

I found huge baseball size lumps under his throat and on his back legs. To make a long story short Gunther had cancer and we put him to sleep a month later. It took Parker a really long time to get back to his normal self and years later while he and I were sitting in the waiting room at our Vet, a tech came out and called another dog in the waiting area by the name of Gunther and Parker jumped up on the bench that I was sitting on and got directly behind me trembling. This was probably a good 3 years after we put Gunther down and poor Parker hadn't forgotten.

Was your dog and cat ever really friends? I would probably take your dog to the Vet for a complete check-up and also have his eyes tested.

Parker is now 11 years old and turning gray. He has Hip Dysplasia and I take him to a Chiropractor for monthly adjustments. He's a good old boy. I wish you well with your dog. (03/20/2010)

By CaroleeRose

Advice For Aggressive Older Dog

I think there is something wrong with your dog. I have had several lab mix dogs and they were sweet all their lives. The other posters have it right, dogs put on the "brave face" and try to do what they think they are supposed to do even in the face of illness and pain. Our dog, Suzie, who died last year, had a large tumor in her chest and we didn't know it until we took her to the vet for shortness of breath. (03/22/2010)

By Marfette

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March 17, 20100 found this helpful

I have a 7 year old Siberian Husky and a 3 year old Husky. Lately, the older one has been attacking the younger one for no reason. Even when I let them outside if the little one even growls the bigger one jumps her. It is breaking my heart. Its been going on for almost 2 weeks now.

I started letting the older one sleep with me and the younger one sleep with my kid, but she still attacks her even if she moves from the spot she is in. I have tried to show the older one more attention, but the minute I even try to show the younger dog any attention the older one wants to attack her. They have been together for 3 years now, but all of a sudden they have been fighting and they are both female. Any ideas would be great because I am at wits end I don't want to get rid of the older one, but I will if she keeps it up. Please help. Thanks.

Tammy120002004 from MI


Advice For Aggressive Older Dog

Have you had the older dog checked at the vet. Like humans with age dogs attitude and dementia change. The older could feel threatened, protective or feel as if her time is ending and is perceiving the younger as a cause. Call you vet and ask before getting rid of her. He may have other ideas, it could be a illness like arthritis or heat or any number of things not even related to your other dog, just the older using the younger as a scape goat. My fear would be that the kids might get caught in the cross fire and get hurt when it could be something minor. Good luck. (08/06/2007)

By dpool from Memphis

Advice For Aggressive Older Dog

I suggest having your older dog examined by a vet to rule out an illness. We all get cranky when we don't feel well. (08/06/2007)

By Carol in PA

Advice For Aggressive Older Dog

I agree with the others, but even if it turns out to be just aggression and no physical issue you can completely turn the dog around by taking obedience classes from instructors who specialize in training aggressive dogs. They can work magic. (08/06/2007)

By Me

Advice For Aggressive Older Dog

Just a shot in the dark, the other suggestions are certainly sound, but if the change was sudden, and the aggression real, perhaps your younger dog has developed an "adult dog" scent, which the older dog is reacting to.

She might not have felt threatened by a pup or an adolescent companion, but maturation occurs in some breeds as late as 2 1/2 - 3 years. Please ask your vet. (08/06/2007)

By U*u*U

Advice For Aggressive Older Dog

I agree with a few other posters here who say it's time for a once-over by your vet. When an adult dog's behavior changes drastically it's usually tied to a medical problem. At seven, your dog is middle-aged and it's not unusual for a variety of medical issues to start cropping up then.

Another thought is to also get the younger one checked out; as yet another poster mentioned, in the wild, dogs mask any pain they're in so the others won't overpower them in their weakness. Could also be that your younger dog has a medical issue that the older dog is picking up on and showing aggression to the "weakness".

Either way, your vet should be able to give you some answers. (08/14/2009)

By PupperMom

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