Dog Overprotective of New Puppy [Taming the Protector]

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

Are you a new dog owner and facing the challenge of introducing a new puppy to your existing furry friend? Or perhaps you’re considering getting a second dog but worried about how your current dog will react?

One of the most common issues pet owners encounter when introducing a new puppy to their home is an overprotective reaction from their existing dog.

This behavior can manifest in different ways, such as growling, snapping, or even attacking the new puppy. It can be distressing to witness and may cause anxiety and stress for both the dogs and their owners.

But don’t worry, there are solutions to this problem.

Through my years of experience, I have found that gradually introducing the dogs in a controlled environment and rewarding positive behavior can go a long way in fostering a harmonious relationship between your furry companions.

In this post, you will learn about the reasons why dogs behave this way and actionable steps to socialize them.

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Why Are Older Dogs Protective of New Puppies? 7 Reasons

Why Are Older Dogs Protective of New Puppies?

Have you recently got a new puppy? If yes, you might notice that your older dog is protective of the new pup.

I find it adorable when an older dog acts all protective and hands-on with new pups. It shows how caring doggies can be!

Now, this probably got you thinking about why older dogs are protective of new puppies. I can give you some clear answers to that!

1. Being a mother

The older dog might be a mother that’s why her primal instinct to care activates upon seeing the new puppy.

Whether or not the older dog is the mother of the puppy, she will still feel the need to protect him as she might perceive him as a member of the pack.

You’ll observe this kind of protectiveness among older female dogs, especially those who have already given birth in the past.

They know puppies are more fragile, thus needing protection and more comfort.

2. New friend

Dogs are very social and friendly animals.

If you took home a new puppy, your older dog might see the pup as her potential new friend. Thus, she’ll be a protective older doggy.

The older dog will want to protect the new pup from any harm so that it can grow up to be her playmate. 

Seeing the new puppy will sometimes make the older dog think that she got an opportunity to expand her social circle. 

Doggy says, consider reading this too: How to stop your dog from licking other dogs privates

3. Protecting like a resource

If your older dog is protecting the new puppy like a resource, she might have a possessive nature.

She sees the new pup as her own possession. In her mind, the pup is hers and she can’t let others share it.

If your older dog sees the new pup as a resource, she is guarding it because she doesn’t want other doggies to play with the new pup.

Dogs can be loyal and so possessive.

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Doggy says, you might be keen to read this too: Do dogs go through terrible twos?

4. Establishing dominance and leadership

Older dogs sometimes view new puppies as an addition to their pack. And in a pack, there’s a hierarchy of dominance and submission.

Older dogs will naturally take on the dominant role leaving the pup to be the submissive one.

The older dog will show the new puppy that she is the one doing the protection, making it clear the puppy is fragile and weaker.

Later on, when the pup grows up, he’ll remember that the older dog protected him on many occasions. Thus, he’ll follow the lead of the older dog.

Doggy says, you might want to read this too: My dog sniffs other dog then attacks

5. Needs attention

If the older dog has become used to being the center of everyone’s attention, a new puppy is a threat to that limelight.

For the older dog to maintain being the center of attention, she’ll protect the new puppy.

When she does that, her fur-parents will shower her with praises and treats thinking that the older doggy is doing something wholesome.

She might even get posted on social media for being the best older doggy in the fam!

6. Accidental reinforcement

The older dog must have received praise and treats when she has shown protection over the new puppy so she continued doing so.

Dog owners often take it to their hearts when they see their doggies acting all caring and adoring, especially to another pet.

When an older dog gets loving attention from her fur parents for doing something she didn’t mean to do, she’ll keep doing it again thinking it’s the right thing to do.

7. Learned behavior from previous litter

Older dogs, especially females who already had a litter of puppies before, have learned the needs of new puppies.

When they meet another new pup, the behaviors they have learned from taking care of puppies in the past will resurface.

Older dogs will recognize the need to protect the smaller and weaker addition to the pack.

Older dogs will be on the lookout for whatever threat may put the new puppies in danger.

They will even provide discipline and encouragement if they think it’s necessary since they are already experienced in the field of protecting pups.

Doggy says, consider reading this next: Why does my dog lick my armpit?

How Do Dogs Express Their Protective Behavior Towards Puppies?

Physical and verbal cues

Dogs may stand over puppies to exhibit their protective behavior.

Standing over the puppies allows dogs to position themselves between the puppies and a potential threat. 

Their presence along with that attacking stance will deter any other pet or human from attempting to get to the puppies. 

Dogs will also nudge and touch the puppies from time to time to keep them close. Hovering and lying next to puppies can also be noticed!

They become too clingy to the pups so others won’t have the chance to pet them.

Dogs bark and growl at potential threats to the puppies too. These are signals not to hurt the puppies!

You’ll also notice the soft whines dogs make toward the new puppies.

Soft whines are their ways of assuring and comforting the puppies that they are safe.

Dogs are very protective of those they love, and they show it in different ways.

Doggy says, you might like this too: Why are Chihuahuas so clingy?

Demonstrating ownership and guarding behavior

A dog shows their protectiveness to new puppies by demonstrating ownership most of the time. 

You’ll know that he is demonstrating ownership when he is always hanging around close to them, licking them, and even holding them around in his mouth from one place to another.

It’s also common to see a dog in guarding behavior when he is being protective of a new puppy.

Barking, growling, and standing over the puppy are some of the things dogs do to protect the puppy.

Nurturing and caring for the puppies

Dogs are sensitive animals. Hence, they can perceive the needs of another puppy.

To try to protect the new pup, a dog will nurture and care for it.

She may do that by grooming and cuddling the puppy, giving it as much warmth as it needs.

Grooming and cuddling nurture their relationship too since the puppy will sense security and safety from the doggy.

The older dog may also encourage the puppy to have some share from her food bowl as a sign of caring.

Hey! Quick one. Check out these other dog behavior posts on our site too:

How to Socialize an Overprotective Dog

Obedience training

Obedience training helps an overprotective dog to behave during social interactions. 

Teaching overprotective dog obedience commands like “come” and “sit” will allow you to lessen her protectiveness. 

For example, you want to pet your new puppy but your older protective dog is keeping you from doing it.

You can command the protective dog to sit so you can pet the new puppy she was protecting. A reward should follow swiftly to reinforce the right behavior.

Training your dog to be obedient will reduce her tendency to overprotect since she will be more behaved and conscious of what he does.

Doggy says, you might be keen to read this too: Are poodles velcro dogs?

Manage the behavior

Socializing overprotective dogs can be complicated since their first thought is they might get hurt.

But you can’t let an overprotective dog remain that way so you have to manage that behavior. 

You can do so by recognizing the triggers of their overprotective behavior. 

Once you recognize those triggers, gradually expose the dog to them and give positive reinforcement each time they don’t get triggered.


Gradually expose your overprotective dog to the close members of the family and other dogs.

This will help them come to terms with the realization that they don’t have to always put their guard up since others can be nice too!

When gradual exposure works, you can then bring her to controlled environments like dog parks.

In there, she’ll be able to meet other behaved doggies that can rationalize her into thinking that she doesn’t have to be too protective.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do dogs have maternal instincts?

Dogs have maternal instincts. However, it’s only activated when a hormone called oxytocin is released. And it’s released right after giving birth. Hence, it’s understandable that female dogs are the ones who have maternal instincts, and they exhibit them after giving birth.

Are all dogs protective of new puppies?

Not all dogs are protective of new puppies. In fact, some dogs hate new puppies because they perceive them as a threat to their position in the family. They might think the new puppies will take the attention of their owners away from them.

In Conclusion: Dog Overprotective of New Puppy

I can totally understand the joy and excitement when bringing a new puppy into your household, but it can also bring about unexpected challenges.

Dealing with an overprotective dog can be daunting, but with the right approach and tools, it is possible to help your dogs develop a positive relationship.

Remember to be patient, consistent, and kind, and always seek professional help if needed.

You’ve made it to the end, but I hope it’s not the end of our journey. We want to hear your voice! Share your thoughts, problems, suggestions, or anything related to your dog in the comments section. And don’t forget to join our newsletter today too.

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Daily Dog Drama!

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