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Old 03-19-2014, 06:06 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Integrating a GSD with a small breed

I just had a general question about acclimating a German Shepherd into a home with a small, fragile breed. I live in a home with an eight pound Papillon, Koda, but my mom is a little concerned about me bringing a GSD puppy home in 9 weeks.

I am not as concerned, as I feel I know how to set boundaries with the dogs in our household (I'm the pack leader of the two dogs we currently have). However, I am no expert by any means, and a 70+ pound dog attempting to play with an 8 pound dog can sound a little frightening. Even unintentionally stepping on Koda might not turn out well. I already know things like "gentle" and "leave it" should be mandatory things the pup will need to learn. However, I want the puppy to see that the little dog is part of the "pack" (and not some chew-toy or thing to chase). I do not want to always keep them separated, unless that is the suggested thing to do. I also want to give my mom confidence that a large breed and a small breed can coexist just fine. I know multiple people who have both, though I have not met anyone with a GSD and a small breed.


My real question is, what advice would you give on introducing a large breed puppy into a home with a small breed adult?

And a little more specifically to my situation, Koda is a fearful dog (which I partially blame on my mother's anxieties for him and "babying" him), so he will not "assert" himself over the new puppy when he arrives. He will warm up to the puppy, as he does with other dogs, but it may take a while. I can almost guarantee though that he will act submissive with the puppy (and I'm not sure if this is a good thing), unless he completely changes his personality. Our other dog, a Border Collie/Aussie mix, will be just fine with a new addition. He's so laid back he might not even notice a new puppy hanging off of him.

Thank you for any responses! And if this thread is in the wrong place, I'm sorry! New to the forum and trying to figure everything out!
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Old 03-19-2014, 06:16 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I also have 4 small breed dogs around 10lbs. We brought our GSD home he was 8 weeks old he was around 8lbs. I have had no issues that get along great. I do worry when they play Tax (GS) will be to rough as now he is 30lbs. I just watch them closely, I think he realizes they are small. When they don't want to play they let him know.I usually let them work it out unless things get to rough. My advice would be to always keep an eye on them when they are together. Hope this helps.
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Old 03-19-2014, 06:25 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I've a little 8 pounder who gained some weight / muscle after I got my GSD because the GSD gave the little one good daily workout plays. =)

#1 advice - be fair to both dogs. If GSD is irritating the small dog, address the GSD immediately and consistently and if a pattern is developed, watch for the trigger and address it before the GSD start the irritation. Same goes for the little one. It can't be one sided. I made the mistake of only addressing the GSD at first but once I addressed both dogs' behaviors I got peace. No one bullies the other. I set the tone, they stop whatever they are doing to each other when I say so. Both dogs must be patient and polite (learned that from Patricia McConnell on pack structures) towards each other and me. For example, if I'm petting one, the other cannot push in. The other must wait (how you do this depends on your dog and circumstance). One cannot steal toys or food from the other. With consistency and firmness on developing a fair environment I think it'll take care of a lot if not most problems of having multiple dogs. I have three dogs and enforcing a patient and polite environment keeps me sane and the dogs from bickering with each other.
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Old 03-19-2014, 06:32 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Not as good at putting it into words as your are Bear L. I totally agree with you. Mine will tire each other out. This helps keep me sane as well
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Old 03-19-2014, 06:42 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Taz's Mom View Post
I also have 4 small breed dogs around 10lbs. We brought our GSD home he was 8 weeks old he was around 8lbs. I have had no issues that get along great. I do worry when they play Tax (GS) will be to rough as now he is 30lbs. I just watch them closely, I think he realizes they are small. When they don't want to play they let him know.I usually let them work it out unless things get to rough. My advice would be to always keep an eye on them when they are together. Hope this helps.

That is something I am going to do for sure. I am also worried about the GSD puppy playing a little too roughly, but it is something that can be kept under control with supervision and management. I just have to keep telling my mom that.

Thank you for the reply!
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Old 03-19-2014, 06:50 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bear L View Post
I've a little 8 pounder who gained some weight / muscle after I got my GSD because the GSD gave the little one good daily workout plays. =)

#1 advice - be fair to both dogs. If GSD is irritating the small dog, address the GSD immediately and consistently and if a pattern is developed, watch for the trigger and address it before the GSD start the irritation. Same goes for the little one. It can't be one sided. I made the mistake of only addressing the GSD at first but once I addressed both dogs' behaviors I got peace. No one bullies the other. I set the tone, they stop whatever they are doing to each other when I say so. Both dogs must be patient and polite (learned that from Patricia McConnell on pack structures) towards each other and me. For example, if I'm petting one, the other cannot push in. The other must wait (how you do this depends on your dog and circumstance). One cannot steal toys or food from the other. With consistency and firmness on developing a fair environment I think it'll take care of a lot if not most problems of having multiple dogs. I have three dogs and enforcing a patient and polite environment keeps me sane and the dogs from bickering with each other.

That's great! I hope Koda can build up some muscle since he's such a skinny toothpick.

Thank you for the advice! I am someone who treats dogs of all sizes as equals, though I cannot say that for the other member in the household. She just favors Koda so much over the BC/Aussie mix since he is so small.
I definitely think the fair environment is good advice and will be something I really have to get my mother to understand (and sometimes she wonders why the dogs listen to me better). Or at least with my dog. It is not a permanent situation, but the new GS puppy will have to follow the rules of the current household until we are on our own.
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Old 03-19-2014, 09:04 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Unfortunately you can't change your mom's attitude about the small dog. I too have a small dog, a Chi, that I treat just the same as a big dog. He gets no special treatment or privilege or (over) concern for his size.

I had no problems bringing in a GS/mix pup into the house. Because of what you've described, I'd watch for the little dog to cry wolf or act hurt when he's really not and maybe just frightened. I mention this b/c I personally would not step in if I know for a fact that the little one is not being hurt physically. it's my thinking that it is better to only act when you know he's being hurt so that he knows you'll be there when he really needs you. Some may not agree, and that's okay too; they may think that the mental irritation should be avoided for the little one too as that is 'painful' too. I personally think that only exacerbates the problem of the little one playing up to his size and being rewarded by being coddled like you mentioned your mom might do. That said, I have interrupted play when I know my Chi isn't being hurt, but the game is too dangerous and getting amped up. My GS likes to drag the Chi around by the tail sometimes. It's hilarious! And the Chi isn't too insulted by this and isn't hurt. But sometimes the GS will start getting amped up and rough so I'll interrupt them. He also likes to get the Chi's harness and pull him by that too. Also funny, but could get dangerous if escalated, so I'll interrupt that too. I don't scold either one for these b/c neither has done anything wrong, but I don't let it get to that. In my opinion, this builds their trust in me as a fair and watchful leader. They respond well and back off for a minute before going back to playing. I find that it is hard for them to tell who is getting fussed at when I fuss; so I try not to let it get to that. I DO let the GS pounce and chase and whatnot. I've watched him close enough to see that he 'misses' the little guy without hurting him. I hope all of this makes sense
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Old 03-19-2014, 09:39 PM   #8 (permalink)
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The thing is sometimes I think the little Dog gets to rough with the GSD and I have to calm him down. I also know that the smaller dog is not being hurt cause he is the one always going back for more, he usually starts the rough play.
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Old 03-19-2014, 11:00 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I just had a general question about acclimating a German Shepherd into a home with a small, fragile breed.
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Old 03-20-2014, 01:22 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by A girl and her dog View Post
Unfortunately you can't change your mom's attitude about the small dog. I too have a small dog, a Chi, that I treat just the same as a big dog. He gets no special treatment or privilege or (over) concern for his size.

I had no problems bringing in a GS/mix pup into the house. Because of what you've described, I'd watch for the little dog to cry wolf or act hurt when he's really not and maybe just frightened. I mention this b/c I personally would not step in if I know for a fact that the little one is not being hurt physically. it's my thinking that it is better to only act when you know he's being hurt so that he knows you'll be there when he really needs you. Some may not agree, and that's okay too; they may think that the mental irritation should be avoided for the little one too as that is 'painful' too. I personally think that only exacerbates the problem of the little one playing up to his size and being rewarded by being coddled like you mentioned your mom might do. That said, I have interrupted play when I know my Chi isn't being hurt, but the game is too dangerous and getting amped up. My GS likes to drag the Chi around by the tail sometimes. It's hilarious! And the Chi isn't too insulted by this and isn't hurt. But sometimes the GS will start getting amped up and rough so I'll interrupt them. He also likes to get the Chi's harness and pull him by that too. Also funny, but could get dangerous if escalated, so I'll interrupt that too. I don't scold either one for these b/c neither has done anything wrong, but I don't let it get to that. In my opinion, this builds their trust in me as a fair and watchful leader. They respond well and back off for a minute before going back to playing. I find that it is hard for them to tell who is getting fussed at when I fuss; so I try not to let it get to that. I DO let the GS pounce and chase and whatnot. I've watched him close enough to see that he 'misses' the little guy without hurting him. I hope all of this makes sense
That is a very true statement. She's a worrier by nature, still deathly worries about me and I'm 22. She gets anxious at the thought of something bad happening. I am at least trying to prepare her though on how to act around both dogs once the puppy is here to avoid escalations, or the GS not listening to her when I am not there (even though the GS will be my dog only, he needs to understand that all humans in the house are his leader, but my mom needs to learn to be that).

Koda definitely does this already, and it irritates me that my mom DOES reward the behavior. My sister has a Jack Russel, and he can be aggressive towards our two dogs when he is over. However, this is caused by either resource guarding and either dog gets too close to him while he has something, or just too much nervous energy around when all dogs are together, since it seems no one trusts Cass around other dogs, except me with supervision. Sometimes though Cass will be running around and get close to Koda or jump over him, and Koda makes a squeaky noise. No harm, just afraid I assume. Then my mom runs over and freaks out, though nothing happened. She wants to keep them separated at all times so Koda doesn't get hurt. I had to dog-sit all three dogs for a weekend while my mom and sister were out of town. Let all three roam the house, absolutely no problems except one resource guarding incident, but I stopped that before it escalated. I even had Koda and Cass laying down with me on the couch together. I just need to teach my mom that freaking out over things does not help the situation, and can result in unwanted behavior or reactions.

But yes, everything in your post makes sense to me! I feel like this is more of the approach I would take, but I will have to assess the actual situation when it arrives. I really do want the two dogs to play with each other, but even I would never want anything to happen to Koda, as he was originally my dog. He's a sweetheart but is so scared sometimes (and be a crybaby when nothing happens too...lol).

Thank you for your reply though! Good advice!
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