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Can you teach a BC pup to play gentle w/ small dogs?

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As some of you know from my introduction post, I am fostering a 6 month old BC pup, and he is wonderfully sweet and smart and beautiful. He is a very submissive dog; I'm actually trying to work on his confidence, as he has big time submissive urination issues when anyone pets him or especially if you lean over him at all :D He is already improving in this area in the 3 days he's been with us though.


The biggest obstacle I am having is that one of my resident Shih Tzu (Willie - 2 yo, neutered, 14lb) is very afraid of him, and maybe with good reason. The BC is a bit rough and clumsy with his play style. He spent his life up until now with his litter-mates and the other adult rescues, so he's used to being the "underdog". He has smacked Willie in the face a couple of times now and he tries to hump my other Tzu, who is only 10 lb. The pup is already 3 times one of my dogs' weight, so my concern is that he will hurt one of them if I were to let him off leash - even if not intentionally. He also tries to play bite them, which my dogs do not care for either. Willie did snap at the pup's nose a few times, but I don't think the pup gets the message, or maybe he just doesn't care because he's just a big galoot?!! LOL!

I'm just wondering if you guys think I should just teach the pup to leave the other dogs alone - and that they are not there for him to play with - or is that just going to be too much to ask of a young BC? I'm also kind of leery of correcting him off of the other dogs because I don't want to send a negative message to the pup about other dogs or accidentally teach him that small dogs are bad and then end up with an adult BC with "dog issues"! Although, I will be taking him back to the farm (where the rescue is) every Saturday when I am volunteering, so he will get social time with about 20 other Border Collies once a week at least.


So far I have kept the pup tethered to me or crated when inside the house (because he has never been in a home environment and he is still potty training and learning boundaries, etc.). He is doing really well with the tethering and it enables me to give a quick correction or re-direct him when he makes bad decisions :rolleyes:


He's doing fine with my indoor cat, he only growled once and I gave him an "At-At" and he was fine (although seeing cats on our walks is completely different - he growls like a "BIG DOG"! :D


Any insight or suggestions with the small dog thing would be very much appreciated, as I can't really get him acclimated to our home until I can trust him more with the other dogs.


In some ways, there's more pressure when fostering such a young pup...I just don't want to screw him up! :D

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I think keeping him tethered to you is a good idea for now.


I don't have advice per se, but I did go through this when we adopted Dean. The "breaking point" for his original owner surrender was that he harassed the family Golden Retriever! So, he came into my house with no dog manners whatsoever and he decided that he LOVED Speedy and was going to play rough with him. Speedy tried to stand up for himself, but Dean was oblivious to it. I decided to intervene because I was not having that.


I used time outs and I kept them very neutral. If Dean got rough with Speedy or barked in his face, Dean was either put on a leash and kept quietly by me on the sofa, or he was put in the bedroom or his crate for a time out. What he learned, pretty quickly, was that barking in Speedy's face and trying to tackle him resulted in him being removed from what he wanted. If he played nicely (which he figured out through trial and error), he earned freedom.


Interestingly, I watched Maddie, my older mix, use this same technique with him! He noticed her one day and went over to her and grabbed her ear and bit it. She pulled away and turned her head from him, removing access to herself. After a few minutes, he tried again, and she allowed it. This time he took her ear gently and she responded by gently biting his face. She actually taught him how to play with her appropriately and they love to play together.


Speedy couldn't do that, though, so I stepped in to remove his access to Speedy when he didn't play appropriately.


It took some work and patience, but it did work for us. He plays beautifully with everybody now. I am glad now that I didn't use corrections because I'm not sure if the results would have been as nice.

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:rolleyes: I just re-read my post and want to clarify that by keeping him tethered to me to enable a quick "correction", I am not referring to being physical with the pup - I'm referring to VERBAL corrections and re-directing - such as appropriate chew toys, stepping on the leash if he jumps, intervening if he's pestering other animals, etc...


Root Beer: Thanks so much for sharing your experience; that's really encouraging to hear and congrats to you for keeping at it. I am a committed and patient trainer, and hearing from someone who has accomplished what I'm trying to do will really help me stay consistent and not give up. :D

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