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dog people



We recently added a puppy. The puppy and our older dog get along wonderfully except when the puppy invades the older dog's "safe space". When this happens the older dog nips and growls at the puppy. We respond with a firm "NO", which we rarely ever have to do. In fact this really stresses out the older dog to the point where her bottom lip/jaw trembles for about a minute. Has anyone ever heard of this, should we be concerned that this is a symptom of a problem?


Senior Member

I have never heard of a dog's lip trembling when it was disciplined, but I really don't think it is necessary to discipline the dog. I don't think it will hurt the puppy and it needs to set boundaries. The older dog should be able to have a safe space and the puppy should learn that this space is off limits. I think I would just let the dogs settle this themselves. Of course, I would stay close by just to make sure the puppy doesn't get hurt, but they need to establish a pecking order and the older dog should be the "top dog".


Senior Member
You're Right!

I am in my spare time a German Shepherd handler in the conformation AKC shows for owners. I also train my dogs for the obedience ring. I was asked to show a five year old shepherd. She was beauiful but as the judge would come near, her bottom jaw would tremble! It was a case of nerves! This happened at six different shows and never at any other time. Unfortunately, the dog never titled because of this. As for your dog..... That is the older dogs space. When the puppy comes near and the older dog is defensive don't tell her "no" rather side with her and tell the puppy "no, back" and pull the puppy away. Even dogs like their space and privacy at some point!:) The puppy will quickly learn that that space is off limits. Growls and nips by the older dog are her way of telling the puppy to respect her. Most likely its a warning rather than a vicious attack. Dogs are pack animals and one of them has to be dominant or "ALpha" especially if they are both the same sex they have to work it out between them. Hope this helps and calms your fears about the trembling jaw!

Chicago Teacher

Full Member

I agree with Eydie. Your older dog should be the dominant dog in your new "pack". If you are disciplining your older dog for defending itself or what it feels is it's "safe space", then you are - in a way - telling it that the puppy is dominant over her. I think as long as your older dog is not aggressively seeking out your puppy to attack it, you should try to let them work out their boundaries on their own. It takes a little time.


I agree with the last 2 posters. I watch Dog Whisperer on National Geographic Channel and they recently did a show about this exact situation. The dog who has already been living with you should be dominant and, at least for awhile, get more priveleges than the puppy. This keeps resentment at bay. When the puppy does this, you need to tell it no, and roll it on to its back (gently) until it is calm. In the wild, this is what a leader of the pack would do if another member was doing something inappropriate. Also, when leaving or coming, let your older dog go through the door before the puppy. This signals to the puppy that it is the follower. Walking them together, side by side, should help build a bond between them.

Good luck! :-)


Senior Member
Thanks for the input

But I didn't explain everything corrctly. We have definitely allowed our first dog to remain in the role of dominance (coming in the house first, respected certain areas in the house, food issues, etc.). I didn't go into the whole explanation because I was concerned with the lip trembling issue more than the dominance.

Thanks for the advice, its nice to have reassurance that you are doing things the right way. The only time we correct her with the "No" is when she shows aggresion with food and the puppy. This concerns her wanting "people food" which we don't allow, but she still thinks if she holds out, we will cave in. This is when she is growls, nips and has bitten the puppy. We can't let her show this type of food aggresion, which is why we tell her "no" . Other situations have been for her and the puppy to work out. Which they have done awesome and are best friends.

This first dog is like our "baby" and I don't want anyone worried that she is not receiving all the awards of the being the first:)