Dog Dominance

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by SarahFair, Dec 14, 2009.

  1. SarahFair

    SarahFair Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 23, 2008
    Monroe, Ga
    I have a few questions on my "dog pack".

    I have a Shepherd mix - Mary.
    Have had her since she was 3 months old which puts her at 5 years old.
    Shes about 35 lbs

    I have a GSD -Rudy
    Have had her for a year and a half putting her at 2.5 years
    Shes about 55-60 lbs

    I have a GSD - Baal
    Have had him for about 3 weeks putting him at 9 weeks old

    My question is really about Rudi and Mary

    Mary is a very calm dog. Much doesnt get to her. She likes to sit in a corner and sleep. She and Rudi have gotten along very very well. We took Mary to meet Rudi before we adopted her. Never had a fight between them.

    Question 1:
    Rudi will come bounding up to a sleeping Mary. She will paw and paw and paw and "yap" at her. Mary will ignore it for awhile then shell stand up straight and start a growl type noise. Mary wont move and hold her ground and Rudi will circle her and yap more and throw her legs over Mary.
    Mary will eventually start playing but if she doesnt want to shell give Rudi a good growl and go lay down. Rudi leaves her alone at this point.
    If Im understanding this right Mary would be Beta dog and Rudi Omega (Im alpha..)
    Why does Mary sometimes give into Rudis annoying shenanagians?
    Is it Mary wants to play but shes telling Rudi she better not get too rough with her before play even starts??

    Question 2:
    When we call Mary over for her petting time Rudi will come between Mary and the petter. Shell herd Mary away and constantly lick her face. Once Mary is away and laying down or standing off Rudi will come back and shove her way into our hands.
    I make Rudi lay down when she starts coming in between Mary and I. I make her stay there till I am done with Mary and have sent her to go lay down.
    If Mary is Beta why does she not tell Rudi off?

    Question 3:
    I have read that a dog freaks out when you leave home because it believes that it is Alpha and is worried about a pack memeber that has left without permission. That is why when you return your blinds are torn and the house is a wreck. The dog seems super happy when you leave is because you have returned safely.
    When we leave we dont have a problem with them tearing up the house or peeing anywhere but they often get "excited" and start barking and circling when we unlock the door. Once we get in they are "excited" to see us. They dont jump on us but they do sort of sit up and whine at us.
    Is this a dominate behavior?

    Question 4:
    We have introduced a new puppy to the house, Baal. He is a male. He left his mother at 6 weeks and I have read that a puppy should really stay with his mother till 10 weeks to help develop "manners". The puppy will nip, jump, and bark at Rudi and Mary to entice play. Sometimes Rudi will get up and play but Mary just does not seem that interested in playing with the puppy. She will ignore it at best, sometimes get up and move away till the puppy leaves her alone. I often times just seperate the puppy from her but I want Mary to stand up for herself. She usually wont until I tell her it is ok. For example: If the puppy wont leave her alone Ill tell Mary "Tell him how it is Mary. Tell him" She will then stand up firmly and growl at the puppy and hold her ground. The puppy will back off on the nipping but still bark bark bark. Mary will often times just move away and if the puppy follows shell hold her ground and let out a soft deep growl till it backs off again. But sometimes Mary will get down on her front paws and bark back at the puppy. She never plays with the puppy like she does Rudi (Pushing, play growling, taking turns on the ground..).
    Does Mary dislike this puppy or is she taking on a parenting role and teaching this puppy about proper behavior?

    Ive noticed when Rudi doesnt want to play shell show her teeth and push him away with her big nose while she makes sort of whine noise. The puppy usually finds something else to do.
    Should I ever interviene (by physically removing the puppy) or should I let Rudi and Mary have some responsiblity in showing the puppy what is right and wrong behavior?
  2. RiverOtter

    RiverOtter Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 4, 2009
    Some really great questions, I'll try to help

    Q1; Seems to me like just young dog and older dog more then dominance. It is very popular among some very popular trainers right now to be ultra-aware of dog dominance and pecking order. Think of it like this, do you have siblings a couple of years younger who always had to nag you into a game? That's probably what's going on. "C'mon, it'll be fuuun!!" "Leave me alone kid" "C'mon, please pleasepleasepleeeease.." "Oh, ok already" Not really a circumstance where dominance comes into play.

    Q2: Mary doesn't tell Ruby off because Ruby is more dominant. During play and general daily living it is very hard to determine dominance order in dogs - especially dogs who have a good pack leader (you) because they really don't spend every second jockeying for position. It's subtle. I'll bet Ruby is probably the first to walk through a door 9 out of 10.
    I know Mary was there first, is older, etc. Dogs don't care. It sounds like they are content with each other so just always pet ruby first and don't make a big deal out of it.

    Q3; If the dogs were freaking out, then yes, it can be. But it sounds like they're just happy that you're back, which is totally natural, the pack is back together. Aren't you glad to see them too?
    Routine keeps coming and going from being a problem. Always say the same thing when you leave (I use; Be a good dog and guard the house) and keep coming home low-key. Just say Hi puppies, hang up your coat, give a quick ear rub, go sit down, then call them over to you for their "pack reunion"

    Q4: Sounds like a parenting role. She's telling him "Mind your manners youngster!" It is very rare for a dog to go too far with a puppy. In fact, often people will be horrified that "the dog BIT the puppy" when what happened is; the little squirt gets really obnoxious, then the older dog lets out a scary roar and knocks the puppy on the side of the head with the side of the long, canine tooth. Whereupon the puppy screams bloody murder and goes scampering to the nearest soft touch. That's not a bite. Neither is it a bite when the older dog opens it's mouth, presses the puppy's head downward (often the puppy's head is entirely in the older dog's mouth - the older dog exerts no pressure) and lets out the same Wild America sounding snarl. Again, the puppy screams like it's being killed and goes scampering off. Close inspection might show a little drool, but certainly no damage.
    As long as it doesn't go farther then that (and it rarely goes that far) I'd leave them alone. It's good for a puppy to learn manners from another dog, especially as he didn't get it from momma.

    Enjoy your new puppy! And read Dog Talk, by John Ross and Barbera McKinney. Best training book ever, imho
  3. SarahFair

    SarahFair Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 23, 2008
    Monroe, Ga
    Rudi is always the first out the door to potty. Mary usually waits till I tell her go. Ive been working with Rudi to wait till I tell her.

    I wont let her walk out a door before myself though..

    Thanks for the advice!
  4. Melissakins

    Melissakins Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 15, 2009
    South Alabama
    for question four, Baal has what is called a "Puppy Pass". It'll last for a while and the older dogs will be tolerant of his antics and will also teach him stuff that his mom would ordinarily have done. Older dogs are quite tolerant in my experience of younger dogs.
  5. lemurchaser

    lemurchaser Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 11, 2008
    Corvallis, OR
    It you are a strong leader, then the pack rankings aren't very important. My dogs vary over who takes the "dominant" role. One will give up a sleeping spot to the other, but will protect its food bowl. Don't worry too much about who's dominant, I usually let dogs work it out for themselves as long as no one is getting hurt. The obsessive licking to get her way is manipulative, but not necessarily dominant (it's a remnant puppy behavior).

    Q3: Separation anxiety has nothing to do with dominance. They are excited to see you because they are pack animals. To decrease excitement at the door, do not greet them for 5 minutes after getting home. I walk in the door, send the dogs outside, have them go potty, etc and then say hi to them.

    Q4: puppies are obnoxious to older dogs, it sounds like it's going fine. You may find that what is tolerated as obnoxious puppy behavior will suddenly not be tolerated as the pup hits adolescence.
  6. cmjust0

    cmjust0 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 30, 2009
    Central KY
    Quote:That's a really good idea for many different reasons. Allowing a dog to race through a door before you is not only dangerous for you and the dog (trip hazard for you, dog bolts out into the road, dog encounters a dangerous situation before you reckonize it, etc] but it can also be sort of a 'power' thing for the dog. A dog that routinely races through the door before you is showing a bit of disrespect for your spot in the pack.. Some folks may say 'Oh, but he's trying to protect me'...well, maybe, but consider that dogs below the alpha look to the alpha for protection -- not the other way around. So if your dog really is going out to protect you from whatever's behind the door...well, guess where you are in the pack order so far as he's concerned? Same sorta goes if your dog simply feels it's OK to bump you out of the way just to get through the's disrespectful, and the dog knows it.

    There are certain situations where I don't mind it so much (routine potty to fenced area, etc) but they all know that when I say "BACK" that they'd better find a spot to be other than between me and the door, like, right now, and that they'd better stay there until I allow them out. Handy when your hands are full of groceries or you just need to get out the door without the dogs following, and it tells me that they understand the difference between me allowing them to go first and feeling like they have the right to go first.

    Also works well if a door pops open unexpectedly and the dog jumps up like "YAY!! FREEEEEEEEDOM!"...just call the dog's name and say "BACK!" and they come right back to Earth. [​IMG]
  7. SarahFair

    SarahFair Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 23, 2008
    Monroe, Ga
    My dogs are very weary of the front door. If it gets left open and Im out there theyll poke their heads out to see whats going on but Ill tell them 'Get back in that house RIGHT now!' theyll go back in.

    I have a problem with my GSD when I take her in public. It is not the people its other dogs.
    I read shes protecting me because she thinks she owns me. I never get disrespect from her at the house so why is she doing it in public?

    She does not like other dogs much unless I approach her with them BUT if Im walking her and someones coming with a dog she acts like shes going to loose it.

    When we are in the back yard and a dog approaches the fence shell get all upset but will come off the fence when I call her.
    I dont know whats going on with her when it comes to walking around other dogs..
    Does she think she owns me and is trying to protect me?
  8. cmjust0

    cmjust0 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 30, 2009
    Central KY
    Personally, I think a lot of people aggression for guardianship simply because they happen to be behind their dog when the incident occurs..

    Does your dog run toward the fence and bark at other approaching dogs, even when you're not in sight?
  9. SarahFair

    SarahFair Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 23, 2008
    Monroe, Ga
    I dont think I understand what you are asking?
    Ill be cleaning the coop, playing with my kids on the swing set and will see one coming and go off.

    I let her out to potty in the fenced back yard and will leave her out there for a little while and shell do it..
  10. cmjust0

    cmjust0 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 30, 2009
    Central KY
    Ok, so you're not directly there with her all the time when she gets aggressive toward other dogs. To me, that would indicate that her aggression toward other dogs probably isn't linked to your being present and in need of protection, so the idea of her feeling some sense of ownership/guardianship probably isn't the root.

    She may just be dog aggressive. There are lots of reasons for a dog to be dog aggressive. The fact that she's OK with a dog you're controlling says something...I'm just not sure what. Perhaps it's that you're alpha, and if you've got the other dog under control, she may feel less threatened by its presence because you're providing protection like a good alpha would. If that's the case, then perhaps you might consider the possibility that she goes berserk at other dogs because she feels threatened by them. The trick to solving that situation might be to convince her to leave the running-off of strange dogs to you.. Not sure how you do that, though...if you were a dog, you'd just start whooping the other dogs but that won't really work here. [​IMG]

    Something else you might do is retrain her to feel something else at the sight of another dog. When she sees a dog, she gets a treat. New dog, new treat. Another dog, another treat. Pretty soon, she'll associate the sighting of another dog with something pleasant inestead of something uncomfortable.

    Just thoughts...

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