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Wow, some of these comments are really striking a chord with me. I don't want to hi-jack Chene's thread (sorry), but I would sure be grateful for advice about my 21-mo old intact boy. He is one of those super friendly, overly submissive types, and I have really been struggling with how to handle it when he gets bullied/pushed around/lorded over by other males (and it is ALWAYS neutered males, and always in off-leash parks/trails.)

 

The other day he actually got jumped by a neutered older sibling. The other dog charged, rolled, and pinned him with a terrifying display of hackles, growls, and snarls. Most often my dog stays on his feet, but lowers himself and cowers some when a larger male dog comes up, goes stiff and stands over him, growling. (Talk about tension!)

 

Once it was a pit bull, and when my dog tried to leave to come to my side, that made the pitbull lunge and snarl. So it was as if my dog was pinned and not allowed to leave. (In that particular case the owner was also a jerk, and he wouldn't call the snarling pit away when I calmly requested that he please call his dog off. I considered carrying pepper spray after that.)

 

*Usually* I am able to call my dog, and move past the jerky guy quickly. Sometimes I yell "hey" at the other dog and/or try to step between them, but it's like they're in an eyeball trance, and my dog is waiting for the other male to "release" him. I seem to be at the mercy of the other owner(s), and I feel like I'm not being a good advocate for my young dog. At times I think that as he matures, he's learning to stand his ground more, or to simply avoid trouble, but then, every week or so, we seem to have another of these intimidating encounters.

 

Would neutering mine would help with this? Should I be more forceful about blocking, correcting, or pulling/pushing the other dog off? Have others with intact males experienced this kind of thing?

 

Cpt Jack can you elaborate on how you handle your submissive guy? Obviously I don't want mine in fights, but I also don't want him bullied and losing confidence... I worry it could backfire and create negative associations about other dogs. He is more alert, and I would hate for him to loose his goofy friendliness and become reactive.

Rebecca

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Point of interest: Jack was intact until he was 8 - and he is absolutely picked on less since I got him neutered. It didn't remove the KICK ME sign from his forehead, but it seems to have at least made him less offensive to some other dogs. I'd give your guy a few more months to make sure of growth, but honestly, I would neuter just based on my own experiences.


But it IS just my experience, so.

 

I handle my submissive guy mostly by being really protective/pro-active. In the house everyone's gotten the message that 'pick on Jack' is not an okay activity to engage in. Out and about, I'm just way more proactive. I won't take him to dog parks. Off leash hiking we do, sure, but I also make sure I can call him back rapidly and that I'm vigilant. It's also remote areas where frequent dog encounters aren't likely. If we were having these once a week, I'd probably look for new locations, for sure. It sucks and it isn't fair, but you need to protect your dog.


I also find being willing to just speak up and have some sort of short thing to say to get space helps a lot, regardless of issue. For me, with Jack, that's "He's scared, can we have some room?" He ISN"T scared, but it's a two word explanation that will get you some space and respect. Contagious is also great.

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My old boy Buddy would absolutely NOT tolerate a stare.

 

To the point that early on, there was a nice man who was helping me desensitize him. We used to laugh, because if the man looked away, Buddy was fine. As soon as the man turned his eyes on the dog, Buddy would growl. It was a perfectly functional switch.

 

He eventually got OK with stares from humans he loved. Dog stares? Never.

 

(Mind you, he was quite reactive his whole life. But I learned to manage his dog interactions very carefully.)

 

I think about this when I'm walking down the street and I get one of those "hard stares" from a young child. It's really off-putting and unsettling, seeing another human stare you down, even when they're three. They simply don't know the rules of politeness yet.

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it's like they're in an eyeball trance, and my dog is waiting for the other male to "release" him.

BINGO!

 

As I said, my old boy was reactive. He was probably reactive by nature, but had also been a street dog for a couple years before being brought to rescue. I largely managed this after I figured him out by yelling, "He's not friendly" and hoping the other owners had enough control that they could leash their dogs. Sometimes not - young labs were the WORST. Several times before I knew him very well, I watched Buddy do the exact thing you're describing: flip another (usually younger and energetic) dog, and then stand over him, growling and staring. Seemed like an eternity, but it was probably 30 seconds.

 

The thing I was amazed by was the precision and purpose of this body language. Buddy didn't lay teeth on the other dog - he didn't NEED to. He was giving the other dog a "come to Jesus" moment that told him "Don't ever get in my face like that again." It never escalated; always ended the same way, with a release. Kind of like a cop letting me off with a warning after I did 50 in a 35 mph zone.

 

My sister got two puppies when Buddy was sevenish. The smaller one learned Buddy's more subtle cues while we walked on leash. The larger one could never learn - she thought Buddy was SO COOL and just wanted to be in his face. Finally, we let them off leash in a big field, and the bigger pup got in Buddy's business, and he flipped her and yelled at her. She never pestered him again after that. Peace reigned in our little group.

 

So, you are exactly right in that the submissive dog is waiting for the other dog to release him. This falls on some point in the "normal dog body language" continuum, and dogs understand it perfectly. I would never reach in to break this up, because I knew Buddy wasn't going to bite, but I was afraid that the addition of another body into the tense situation might make it worse.

 

This is not meant to be a summary of how bad my old dog was - I'm getting retroactive anxiety just reliving those moments! - but a clarification that what looks horrifying to us humans is purposeful and laser-sharp in its meaning to dogs.

 

It was interesting to me, seeing a dog whose formative years were lived among loose DOGS, not humans. He definitely had different rule book from the one issues to the pampered pets in my neighborhood. :)

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How willing to work on this are the new roommates? Maybe having them reward Wes for breaking that hard stare, or other ways to help soothe these interactions would help also. It doesn't really seem like it's just Aed needing to work on this. Gabe's a starer too, we do a LOT of clicking and rewarding for any focus away from other dogs out in the world, and big parties for attention towards us instead of the dog. It seems to be helping.

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Tess loves most dogs and plays happylly with many, but is quick to find ofence and to correct it. She uses stuff from just posturing, showing a bit of teeth or snapping in the air, to make the other dog roll over and growl over him. She has never hurt another dog and I let her explain her rules. She doesn't hold grudges and soon after correcting a dog she'll be playing with him (as long as he understood her point).

 

But then there's young dogs and/or submissive dogs lacking confidence. Those she likes to bully. That I don't let her do. By now I just tell her "No" and she stops the atempt to harrass the other dog. I do have to be alert to stop her at the first sign, but by now I know in advance which dogs she's going to try to bully (only pups she seems to like are the bold confident ones. Then they grow up and she's fine with the ones she previously disliked).

 

I think what's important is being proactive and knowing the difference between normal dog interaction and bullying or agressive behaviour.

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A couple of thoughts after reading this thread:

Chene,

You said when Wes walked by your door you said "Who is that?" in an excited voice and your dog reacted badly. If you want to keep all things associated with Wes calm, then you also need to approach all interactions and potential interactions with a calm tone of voice. Even if you think that a happy, chirpy voice would help your dog to associate happy things with the appearance of Wes, given the fact that you say Aed seems to be over the top in his reactions at this point I'd keep my voice calm to project calmness to Aed as well. That doesn't mean you can't offer him treats or whatever for ignoring Wes, but since our dogs read us so well and react to our tone of voice, I think you need to project calm, as in, "Hey Aed, there's NO reason for you to get excited, disturbed, defensive, etc., because I am none of those things."

 

I can't stand dogs who are bullies, and although I often will let my own dogs work things out, even with the boarding dogs they sometimes mingle with, if I see someone behaving like a jerk for no good reason, I will tell the bad actor to stop it. For example, there is an adolescent male (20 months) who hangs out with my dogs sometimes and he's decided to either work or sometimes plain harass Pip, who is 9. Pip pretty much tolerates the younger dog's behavior, but I know from experience that if the young dog continues to push his luck, he's going to get corrected, and hard. Since neither the younger dog's owner nor I want to pay vet bills, we usually correct the younger dog for being an ass. Ultimately it will be less traumatic for the young male than if we let it go to the point where the older dog decides he needs to teach the youngster a lesson. If Wes is truly staring at Aed and making him uncomfortable, then certainly enlist the aid of your roommates to also distract/redirect Wes. It takes two to fight, and Aed (and Wes too) can learn ways to defuse a situation (e.g., look away from the staring dog) even when he is feeling uncomfortable. And Aed will be more comfortable with that if he knows you've got his back (that is, that you're not letting Wes intimidate him, if indeed that's what Wes is doing--and not just being a social moron).

 

In my experience when an adolescent male is between about 18 and 24 months, many older intact males will simply take exception to the younger males' very existence (and sometimes the young males provoke that response, but often they don't). Every young male I've had has gone through this. It's as if they give off a vibe that says "kill me." And if you think about it, this is the age when their hormones are making them "think male thoughts," so to speak, and so other males may see them as a threat. I believe those older males are just being proactive putting the younger males in their place (presumably while the older dog still holds the advantage, at least with respect to maturity, if not also with size and strength). So there is likely some basis in pack behavior that plays into the "attack the young intact male" thing.

 

 

JMO.

 

J.

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I think for my border collies when they are just hanging out and playing that stare can be like a play invitation or it can be a warning. Just depends on the rest of the body language. I think border collies and herding dogs play a bit differently from other breeds. When my dogs stare it is an invitation for someone to take off running and a game of chase follows.

 

I think you need to be aware of if that stare is not an invitation to play and you are asking a dog to break that stare you are asking him to submit. The dog that is staring and does not break it Wins. That breaking the stare is an admission the other dogs wins so be careful there. Depending on the other dog if one submits that could insight more aggression from now the dominate dog just to prove his point.

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Haven't read the whole thread. Disclaimer there.

 

There's a big big difference between a dog being friendly meeting other dogs on the street/at class/at the park and being ok sharing the home with another dog. Especially if you have clashing personalities.

 

My dogs didn't get along at first- specifically Hank and the papillons. Just mostly an issue of papillons being fun police and Hank being a wild very physical cattle dog terrier. He wanted to chase them and jump on them and they wanted him to die. They are both very not physical and not fans of in your face dogs (which Hank is).

 

The biggest thing is time and supervising. Hank spent the first two weeks essentially tethered to me. I rewarded calmness around the papillons, corrected for the chasing. I gave the papillons some time to adjust to this wild dog antics so they realized he wasn't trying to hurt them. Etc

 

Basically what I'm saying is peaceful coexistence can take weeks to months. It was about 2 months in when I realized I was doing a lot less management of every little thing.

 

Make sure the dogs get some time apart and time to adjust.

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"There's a big big difference between a dog being friendly meeting other dogs on the street/at class/at the park and being ok sharing the home with another dog."

 

Laurelin makes an important point. Moving in with another dog is almost like asking Aed to accept a new sibling and he hasn't had to do that before. When I think back about my 2 littermates (who had always been together)- they still had adolescent squabbles. I spent a lot of time training and walking them together as well as separately. I did training sessions with the two together so they'd learn to take turns and experience receiving treats in each other's company for doing "good" behaviors. Had to nip any guarding or staring/intimidation in the bud by redirecting, creating more physical space (go to your mat/corner and leave that), or taking away the object-of desire regardless of who started it. Of course, it's a little different with room mates...


 

For dogs that are just getting to know each other, I'm a big fan of parallel walks (on-leash). They don't meet head on, they aren't in each other's faces. We all just join up and go on a walk together in the same direction. Everybody relaxes. The dogs are with their people (usually on opposite sides at first), but we're still all moving along together like a pack, sniffing the neighborhood etc. No play, no posturing, no issues, just walk and relax.

 

Rebecca

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I agree that there's a big difference and that definitely affects the way I'm acting going forward, but as far as his attitude towards Wes he did just meet him like he'd meet any other dog on the street and acted aggressively/defensively/whatever. I would love to do a parallel walk but Aed is slightly leash reactive (or restraint reactive in general really) around dogs, so it wouldn't be a good idea.

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I don't know about Aed- but most leash reactivity I've seen has been when dogs are approaching each other, or when one is leashed and another isn't. Parallel walking can be a great way to diffuse that issue as well- I might start with an easy, (older?) neutral dog who will just ignore the adolescent. Goal being to build a habit of on-leash walking in the same direction near another dog :o being no big deal, and in fact pleasant!

 

When I've done this with friends with reactive dogs, we find each other in a park and just start walking in the same direction, and gradually merge. We don't let the dogs "greet" or get too close. Maybe there's a sidewalk or 2 or 3 of space between us (which can be adjusted as necessary to remain under threshold) and we just move in the same direction. Any posturing just ignore and/or redirect with a "let's go." Dogs quickly become interested in the actual walk and/or are rewarded for desired behavior (look at me, heel, sit, touch etc.)

IME- :rolleyes:

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My suggestion is to get a babygate or, even better, an exercise pen and separate the living room somehow. That way you and your roommates can interact normally and have both dogs out at the same time, but you don't have to worry about them actually getting to each other.

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If gates are something you are serious about I highly recommend the type that has a swing open door. Taking the gates off and putting them back on to get around is really obnoxious after a while. I have one that separates one room for the cats and chinchillas.

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I'll consider a gate if it gets to that, but today's update is that Aed is showing an increased interest in Wes. They've sniffed each other over a few times now, and are considering playing but haven't gotten there quite yet. Aed shoved his nose into Wes's chest while Wes was sitting - I have no clue what that's supposed to mean. :lol:

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Success! They are best friends now. They'd been improving all day, and (although I wasn't there to see it happen) apparently Wes tried to hump Aed and it collapsed into a big play fight and since they've been playing non stop. Thank you everyone.

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Good news! :)

 

I wouldn't let down your guard completely, just because things like food and toys can set up a different, non-neutral dynamic. But it sounds like they're on their way to working it out. I'm a bit envious - tired dogs are so much easier than wired dogs.

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