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This may seem a bit complicated, but I will try to explain my scenario to the best of my ability, and I'd appreciate any feed back I can get:

 

My husband and I recently adopted another dog (a male pit bull mix) as a companion for Bella (female border collie / husky mix). We often had play-dates with her and other dogs, and found that she was extremely social and "the boss" whenever a situation like that came up, and she thrived with that - it gave her the attention and stimulation she needed when we were otherwise preoccupied. We do exercise her regularly, and have a fenced-in yard for her to go nuts in (which she does!). Upon the arrival of her new "friend", they got along great very soon. I'm just curious if anyone has a method of getting them to play outside without wanting to play rough to the point where I'd have to be concerned. I let them out one at a time to do their business, and after that, once in a while I let them out together to run around. It seems, out of the two of them, that Bella is the one who wants to go for the other dog's neck - but not in a mean way - it's just be a really, really rough-housing type of play, but I don't want a situation to happen where I'd have to intervene and get hurt. She's not an aggressive dog by any means, she just wants to show her place I think, being part husky. It only happens outdoors. I'd really like to let them out to play together, and have been going out with both of them to show them how to play (the best I can). First, should I be concerned about their rough play? I don't want the other dog to act on it either, because that could lead to a giant mess. :rolleyes: And second, should / how can I get them to play less rough?

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Like Carlasl, my dogs sounded like they were ferociously tearing each other appart when they played. I separated them the first few times, but they'd run back to each other, tails wagging and looking relaxed, and go at it again.

 

Having said that, how old is your pit bull mix? You might go to the Bad Rap website and ask your question there. My understanding is that pit bulls start to show dog aggression at around a year and a half to two years. If your new guy is older than that, not so much to worry about, but I'd still get an opinion from pit bull experts.

 

If it's just roughhousing, enjoy it. My dogs are well into their golden years, and we don't get any Extreme Bitey Face contests anymore. I miss it.

 

Ruth

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^It sounds like the BC mix who is being too rough, not the pit bull mix. But anyway, like Carla said, mine sound like they're killing each other when they really get wound up playing. There is lots of teeth and grabbing, but you can see that their bites are inhibited, nobody is actually chomping down on anyone. I'd suggest watching the dogs together, and you can see if Bella is just "play biting" his neck, leg or whatever. When mine get to the point where I think they're being too rough, and somebody might get mad, I usually just have to yell at them to knock it off. Since your new guy hasn't been there too long, I would closely supervise all their play sessions and intervene if necessary.

 

Can you try playing fetch or frisbee with them out there? Get them playing with you instead of each other?

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If you hear one of the dogs yelp in pain then they have gone to far and what usually happens it the other dog will stop abruptly because of the other dog yelping. THey police themselves in that manner. I've seen maybe 2 or 3 all out brawls come out of this type behavior and those were from dogs that really didn't get alont that well in the first place so it was sorta doomed before they start.

What looks horrible to you, is probably just play for them. if the dogs are happy and enjoying themselves, I'd let it go

I do love watching a good game of bitey face. Wonder why is so enjoyable to me?

JMO

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OK, first, I agree that sometimes Really Fun Playtime sounds scary to people when in fact it is still just Really Fun Playtime for the dogs. Reading the dogs' body language can tell you what is really happening. My old dog LOVED my sister's corgi and was totally submissive to him (even though he was half her size), but when they played and chased it sounded SO ROUGH! And they nipped a lot. But no one was getting upset either. They were both very high energy dogs.

 

Dog body language links, if you need them (probably you don't--but reminding yourself of these behaviors and their meanings may help you feel more confident in your assessment of their play):

http://www.squidoo.com/readyerdog

http://www.canis.no/rugaas/onearticle.php?artid=1

Anybody have better links than these?

 

Second, how to manage? I have never had a multiple dog house, but I have had lots of successful encounters introducing reactive dogs in short playdate type situations. If I were getting a second dog, I would watch them super closely for two months, not allowing them to play at all without me present so I could be sure they knew the rules, and then I would start increasing the time I left them out in the yard, starting with about a minute at a time, secretly watching from the window where they couldn't see me, so I could see how they'd interact without me appearing to be present. If things continued to go well and the dogs clearly got along, they might be playing on their own for short intervals anywhere between a month after that to six months. It would just depend on the body language of the dogs and how deferential and communicative/easy they were with each other during their supervised daily lives. If there was any indication of aggressive or pre-aggressive behaviors (hair rising, wall-eye, etc) I would go REALLY REALLY slow and maybe stop alone-time altogether. The relative and individ. ages of the dogs is probably v. important also because as I understand it (mostly from reading here and talking to a vet. behaviorist) aging affects a dog's perception of self and status, so if either dog is < 3 as someone else mentioned that would affect the way I would handle this too. This is just a common sense / personal experience answer though. I would be interested to see what others have to say for sure!

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I definitely do agree that what we hear is a lot worse than it actually is... my concern, however, is that the other dog isn't vocalizing enough to let her know she's being too rough, and vice versa when he does nip at her. It's more of a play-growl sound before the biting begins. I actually don't think I've ever heard a yelp, but they do play pretty rough - grabbing the neck and throwing each other on the ground. I've worked with Bella as she's grown with bite inhibition (we had a roommate live here with us for a short time who "trained" her to be VERY mouthy :D ) and she has done very well with that. It doesn't work so well on dogs though, as she doesn't seem to back off as well - one of her "play date" friends will bark and lunge forward, and she often doesn't get the hint :D . I do work on verbal commands when the rough play escalates, and that will work only as long as she isn't extremely involved in her play; otherwise, she refuses to listen, to which I start heading over to where they are playing to distract her. She doesn't really seem too into frisbee or ball when they are out there playing (as of right now... but the whole situation is still relatively new), which is ok, I'd just like to be able to know they aren't going to rip each other to shreds! I guess I shouldn't say it's ENTIRELY her, but she's the initiator and the one who continues it, so she's guilty 90% of the time.

As for their ages, Bella will be 1 1/2 in April, and the other dog is between 1 and 2 years old - we aren't exactly sure. We've had him for 2 months though, and haven't let our eyes off of them for a minute. I'll slowly start leaving them out alone and peek through the window - that's easy to do with my garage door. :D

 

Thanks for your replies so far, I'm interested to see what else other people have for input also! I think so far it's been a general consensus that I shouldn't be TOO worried, but I'm still learning about the new guy and want to make sure they're just having fun. :rolleyes:

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Though in principle agreeing with previous posts (looks usually heavier than it is) bad stuff does happen. Not so long ago my wife (vet) had a DOA patient, a danish dog that was actually killed by a mastiff, both dogs living together, same owner.

Ripped carotic vein, bled to death on the way to my wife´s practice. Owner didn´t have the impression that it was an intended "fight to the death", more of an accident during too rough play/fight.

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Guest echoica

i think if you are able...a short video example would help us a lot with answering your questions. it is hard to say without seeing the body language first hand. and like some other posters above, it sounds like a dog fighting ring around here when my 2 dogs get going. growling, barking, throwing each other down, biting on the neck, ears etc. but i am 100% positive it is all play. and the few times one or the other got too excited and excessive the other dog corrected the other anyway.

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As for their ages, Bella will be 1 1/2 in April, and the other dog is between 1 and 2 years old - we aren't exactly sure. We've had him for 2 months though, and haven't let our eyes off of them for a minute. I'll slowly start leaving them out alone and peek through the window - that's easy to do with my garage door. :rolleyes:

 

OK and an added warning, two months is good, but those are the ages at which I understand there can be fluctuations in dog-dog relationships, your dogs are both basically teenagers (eep! teenaged dogs! I love my three year old BC! she is so mature!!!), so I'd definitely take it super slow leaving them alone until their personalities are solidified! And you might want to work on a solid default down (repeating lots of times a day) so you can call out a down in the middle of too-rough play and it will stop them because of an almost instinctive obedient response. You really can get them that good on a down even at that age. But it takes lots of repetitions (I used lots of tiny treats). Once I had a vet. behaviorist having me do 50, then 100, then 200 sits and downs a day. You may not want to take it so far but the more repetitions the more likely calling out a cue like that if something happens will break it up. Not that they will necessarily obey if things have gone too far, but the word may stop them and make them at least think about an alternate-and-incompatible behavior which could interrupt them. I certainly would not want to have to consider breaking something like that up physically, especially if it got serious.

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echoica, I'll see if I can get a video up in the next few days. I've been really busy this week and the times where they get out to play has been when the sun goes down! Plus I'll have to test my video-posting skills to the test... we'll see how long it takes me to figure out. :rolleyes:

 

pansmom, I know exactly what you're talking about with the whole teenager thing... I'm fairly new to owning dogs, and the dog we owned before Bella was just under 2 when we got her... boy did I see a change between that and when we lost her a few years later. I really can't wait until Bella gets over this teenager bump, although she has come SUCH a long way since we got her. Like I said before, I'm always watching the two of them - I give them a little more slack in the house because they're pretty good most (if not all) of the time, but I'm always within earshot. It's just the outside part that they get out of control with. The male also does need a lot of training, and I'm trying to balance the both of them so Bella doesn't feel like she is getting left in the dust with the new guy. Slow and steady!

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Ok, so I'm not trying to be a slacker or anything like that, I'm reeeeeeally trying to get a video up... the weather just isn't cooperating with me! It has either been raining or snowing since I made my last post, and now my yard is mud, so we haven't gotten much backyard run-around time. Poor crazies :rolleyes:

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