Dogs that don't want to share...

By Jennifer Stoeckl, MAT - Dire Wolf Project CEO, July 12, 2023
Finn in his happy home

Yesterday’s video was great, right?!

I sure enjoyed making it for you.

Thanks for heading over to @direwolfproject on YouTube to check it out.

The time is FAST approaching when we will once again be on the road hand-delivering your new puppy right to your doorstep.

That means, time to prepare the household…

…including the OTHER animals that live there with you.

Have you ever thought about what your already-established animals might feel about a new dog/puppy coming into the house?

They have to make adjustments to the new American Dirus dog, too.

And… sometimes it doesn’t go quite so smoothly.

I received a SUPER question from one of our newest American Dirus owners yesterday.

Their family already had a 9-year-old hound/pittie mix in the home when the DireWolf Express brought their new puppy, Finn, to them.

As it turns out, the older dog, Jed, does not appreciate the new puppy all that well.

The two dogs have moments when they seem to be “friends”, but then other times Jed will growl and snap at puppy Finn… especially when Jed feels Finn is taking over something Jed owns.

Ultimately, Jed does NOT want to share his things with this new brother.

In today’s email, I want to share my philosophy behind a successful transition between the furry beings in the home.

This beautiful boy is Finn.

He is out of Essex and Meriwether from the Mr. Rogers Litter.

GREAT personality.

So sweet, gentle, loving, and goofy.

Like Fezzik, the gentle giant in the Princess Bride, he doesn’t really know how big he is.

Finn enjoys meeting new people, but is on the cautious side when meeting new dogs… especially the rude/happy/don’t-have-boundaries kind that plow into another dog’s personal space without asking permission.

His owner did the EXACT right thing when one such ill-mannered dog came bounding into Finn’s personal space.

Finn is not as eager to run up to dogs and I’m very thankful about that.  When we went for our first vet visit a man was in the waiting room with his big poodle-like dog.  Finn was sitting at my side at the reception desk. The man just let his dog come over to Finn …Finn had a very low growl and was visibly uncomfortable.  Timid me got a backbone and I held up my hand and said rather firmly to the man ‘PLEASE DON’T ..this puppy is just learning and isn’t comfortable with your dog.’  The man took it well and called his dog off. I reassured Finn without coddling.


That is exactly what we mean when we tell you to PROTECT YOUR PUPPY.

Here was my response to the family on how they handled the overbearing poodle dog,

In the canine world, dogs that come up too forcefully are rude.

“Canines do NOT greet like that unless they are puppies and even then, if they don't back off, they will learn real quick what the consequences are for being unruly and rude to another dog. Finn is very smart and speaks canine very well... being that he learned from the best over here with our dogs. He knows that an unruly dog without an understanding of proper boundaries is a nuisance. You did the exact right thing to step in front of Finn and stop the unruly dog at the vet from bothering him further.
”If Finn didn't have you to guard against the rude dogs of this world, he might get the mistaken belief that the canine way of handling rude behavior will be his only other option. And... I can tell you don't want that.

When a new dog or puppy enters your home, the furry companions who live there have to develop relationships with one another, too.

But, Finn’s relationship with Jed has gone awry.

For some reason, Jed feels like he must to protect “his things” from the unsuspecting puppy.

If Finn even looks at Jeb’s food bowl… Jed will throw a fit.

If Finn comes over to daddy while Jed is there… Jed will growl at Finn to back him up.

If Finn isn’t aware of his giant-sized body and accidentally sits on Jed, there will be swift consequences for boundary violations.

Poor Finn… he just doesn’t know what he’s done wrong.

So… along with hiring a dog trainer to help them, they came to me for any advice I might have.

Here were my thoughts,

“I suspect Jed is a more serious type of dog with forceful rules and boundaries. Jed believes that his things are his no matter how far away he is from them. This is a slightly incorrect or skewed interpretation of typical canine possession etiquette. If Jed were an alpha male in a wild wolf pack, he would be feared, but rules in his presence would always be respected. He tolerates the puppy when Finn doesn't get in his space or mess with things he 'possesses'. 

“The issue is twofold:

  1. Jed's idea of possession is very strict. He sets a very wide boundary range around 'his' things. Typically, doggie etiquette goes like this: "If I have it, it's mine." But Jed's rule is: 'it's mine whether I have it or not'. This is much more like human possession etiquette and isn't usually seen in dogs that often. But that is what makes Jed who he is. And knowing this about Jed, we can help both Jed and Finn come to understand one another. 
  2. Finn doesn't understand which items are Jed's and which are not. Finn is a typical canine using canine etiquette to determine possession. He believes a dog must have physical proximity for the item to be claimed. So, in his innocence, he feels okay to take things when Jed moves away. He doesn't yet understand that Jed style lays claim to those things even though he is no longer in the area.

“I suspect Jed believes his food bowl, his bed, his crate, his couch, his human, his chew toys, etc. are not to be used by other animals... especially when he, himself, is physically nearby.

“So, when Jed is laying on "his" bed or being pet by "his" human or eating out of "his" bowl, he expects Finn to simply understand the necessity to leave them alone. 

“The great thing is that Jed is NOT aggressive. 

“Jed is setting strict, firm boundaries in the ONLY way dogs can. 

“Jed is trying hard to communicate to Finn in as clear a way as possible in his own canine language that Finn is stepping over the line. 

“I can tell Jed has no intention of harming Finn in any way.

“Dog boundary setting can look fierce to our human emotional sensitivities, but Jed showed quite a bit of restraint to Finn when he could have literally ripped him a new one, but Finn didn't have a scratch on him. It's a lot of puffery, but not much aggression. 

“This is great news for you. 

“This means you can help them both begin to work out their differences of opinion/understanding by being the boundary setter and not leaving Jed to fend Finn off on his own accord. 

“Just like you stepped in front of that dog at the vet's office, Jed needs to know that you will help Finn understand Jed wants his own personal things for himself. 

“It is perfectly acceptable for Jed to have his own things. 

Finn is also capable of understanding which things are Jed's and to always leave them alone... just like he leaves your personal human things alone. 

“So, identify what items Jed believes are his own and make sure to help Jed out by specifically teaching Finn those are not to be touched. 

“If Jed mistakenly believes an item is his when it is not, then, Jed needs a correction in his understanding from the human to whom the item truly belongs. 

“For example, if Jed believes human daddy is his and Finn cannot intervene, then make the rule that when daddy is petting or loving on Jed that Finn isn't allowed to butt in. But, when Finn is getting love or pets from daddy, the reverse is also true. Jed cannot butt in during those moments. 

“If Jed possesses daddy more than just when he is petting Jed, then Jed needs to understand his error. 

“It is going to need to be all about helping the two of them work out their differences so that they can live together without fear that they are going to get snapped at or their personal space will be invaded.

“When they don't have to take on the responsibility for making sure their boundaries aren't crossed, then they will relax around one another and trust that the humans have it. 

“For now, while they are learning about how to be around one another, I would keep them in separate areas while the humans are away. 

“You might even need to keep up this practice of separating them for several months. At least until you find you are no longer correcting one or the other for crossing boundaries. 

“I hope that helps. I would recommend the book "Bones Would Rain from the Sky" by Suzanne Clothier. GREAT book on how to listen to a difficult dog and find out what they are trying to communicate to us. 

“Let me know how it goes as time goes along. I am super curious about that Jed and his strict boundary-keeping ways.”

Dogs can be complicated emotional beings, too. It is up to us humans to help them live together within the confines of our own human boundaries. Sometimes, when dogs don’t get along with one another, we find that there is a strain on their relationship in some way. Fix that by working to understand why each dog in the household feels stress, then we can work out a peaceful existence.

Ultimately, here’s how I look at it:

You can be mad, but you can’t be mean.

Feelings are okay, but not all behaviors are.

Time is getting short! The DireWolf Express will chug down those silver rails real soon.

You can track the Bowtie Trip IN REAL TIME all the way to their new homes.

Remember to follow Jay Stoeckl on the free PolarSteps app to track and receive the daily messages, pictures and updates of the dogs/puppies on the trip!

Here is the link to learn more about this FREE tracking service:

Jennifer Stoeckl is the co-founder of the Dire Wolf Project, founder of the DireWolf Guardians American Dirus Dog Training Program, and owner/operator of DireWolf Dogs of Vallecito. She lives in the beautiful inland northwest among the Ponderosa pine forests with her pack of American Dirus dogs.