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Have you ever had the following experience? You're out walking your dog when you come across an adorable, wide-eyed puppy. Your dog is friendly, so you let the two say hi. But then your dog gets annoyed and growls or snaps at the puppy. Your dog doesn't do that normally with other dogs, which makes you wonder: does my adult dog hate puppies? We get into the answer below.
The short answer is no, your dog probably doesn't hate puppies. There are a few other reasons why an adult or senior dog doesn't want to deal with puppies or enjoy being around them.
For starters, puppies don't yet have social etiquette and can't yet read social or physical cues. This can be bothersome to some older dogs, especially when a puppy isn't able to read his or her body language warning the puppy to stop.
Puppies are also overly excited and tend to jump and invade our personal space (human and canine alike). Older dogs don't always love being jumped on or having their personal space invaded. This can be especially annoying if your adult dog has an established routine and doesn't love change.
It's actually not unusual for an adult dog to have low tolerance for puppies and show their displeasure. It's a natural form of training for puppies and just another part of their normal growth and development. Though adult dogs may come off aggressive to us (e.g. warning growls, snapping, stepping on the puppy, etc.), these are relatively typical tactics for a dog teaching a puppy how to behave. But it's not always comfortable for us, so here are some tips for adult dog and puppy interactions:
Use treats for positive reinforcement, so your dog will eventually associate puppies with a reward.
Keep your dog on-leash to give yourself more control over your dog.
Make sure the two dogs are meeting in a neutral space, so no one gets protective over anything.
Stay calm and friendly, so your dog can take cues from your body language, know everything is okay and follow your lead.
Some dogs, however, are actually aggressive toward puppies, which may mean there is something else going on. Perhaps a negative experience in the past with puppies or other dogs or something else altogether. For these cases, trainers suggest using positive reinforcement to change the association your dog makes with puppies from something they dislike to something they enjoy (like treats). It's also suggested that you alert the puppy's owner and move out of their way or leave the area entirely.