OK...here goes. We have a 10 month old lab named Maggie that we got at 7 1/2 weeks old. We couldn't ask for a better dog. She has been very quick to learn new things and we have really really enjoyed having her. She does have her issues (jumping on people, problems sometimes with recalls, etc.) but we are working on those things and other than that she is the best.
Well...a few weeks ago my wife was approached by the breeder of the litter where we got Maggie. The breeder (who is not seeming too much of a breeder at this point) kept a male and a female from the litter. Well...the male is about 80 pounds, but very solid and healthy looking (not fat). And, the female is around 55 pounds and about average as well. Well, the male has been "beating up" on the female and it has made her excessively fearfully submissive...if that makes sense. So, the breeder was concerned about this and was wanting to get rid of the female to make sure that she didn't get hurt. We were planning on getting another dog, but not until about a year or so (till Maggie was more trained and a little older). Well, they asked us to take the sister of the litter. We talked about it and agreed. We did know that she had issues from being "beat up" so much by her brother. The breeder allowed the 2 dogs to eat from the same bowl, and of course the male would get all he wanted then the female was allowed to come in and eat. They also weren't able to control a lot of the dominance issues that were going on in the yard because like anyone, they were not there all the time. There were some other things that added to the problems too. She was never really socialized outside of their yard with the brother and horses and family. She also never went anywhere other than to the vets office. She was never really trained with much other than sit (and that is not perfect by any means). She was also never leash trained or house trained. So, we have got our hands full with starting from scratch with training and trying to incorporate her into "Maggie's world".
Our dog Maggie is very hyper, very dominate at times with other dog friends, and we knew we would have a chore ahead of us. Maggie is very loving, but she is very athletic and LOVES to play. She loves to play chase, she loves to run, to play fight, but at times doesn't know when to stop. Nonetheless, they have been together for about 4 days now, and all is going semi-well. A few things that I would like to ask about and get some opinions about is this. When they are outside (we have 5 acres) they will run and play and chase at times (more and more as time goes on). But, when they come inside the new dog, Suzie Q, ducks her head and her tail,l and she becomes extremely submissive to Maggie. At times, when Maggie is trying to play fight or wrestle in the house, Susie Q will actually just play dead. Then, when Maggie leaves she will get up. Also, Maggie will get on top of her and bite at her lips and ears and throat. Now, I do believe it is play, but there are times where it gets too rough.
So you can get the whole picture, I would like to let you know what we have done and are doing to try and help the situation. We feed them in separate bowls but at the same time in the same room. We want to create a pack with them. We walk them several times a week for long 1 hour walks. They have to be beside or behind us, without one of them out front leading the way. If Maggie gets really rough while they are playing I will flip her over on her back, hold her down, and let Susie Q just smell her and try to level out the playing field. We want to make a family with them and a pack between them. We would love for them to play together with us being able to feel confortable with leaving them together.
Also, things that have been suggested that we have not tried are not letting them play (horse play) in the house at all (at least at this point). Also, letting the submissive dog eat first, but with Maggie in the same room on a leash. It was also mentioned that there is some sort of plug in chemical that plugs into the wall like an air freshener, and is supposed to calm them down.
Any suggestions or things that have worked for you?
Please, under no circumstances, should you roll your dog onto her back. It does not level the playing field but only creates more tension and adversity in the situation, which Susie Q is trying to avoid. Nobody is better at talking dog than a dog. Suzie Q is very obviously trying to calm Maggie down when she plays dead, so is doing her job of communicating. If Maggie continues to try to wrestle with her, then Maggie needs some help with dog socialization because obviously she is not reading Suzie's language. As the two of them interact, Maggie will quickly learn that it is not fun playing with a dog who plays dead, so she will leave Suzie alone quicker every time. If she does, Suzie will learn that playing dead is a good strategy and they both will learn what the rules of engagement are.If Maggie gets really rough while they are playing I will flip her over on her back, hold her down, and let Susie Q just smell her and try to level out the playing field. We want to make a family with them and a pack between them. We would love for them to play together with us being able to feel confortable with leaving them together.
Why would you let the subordinate dog eat first? IF Maggie is truly dominant, then she should eat first and if you were to feed the subordinate dog first, she would feel usurped and you would be creating a problem that doesn't have to exist. I know people who have tried this with terrier siblings and very bad fights have broken out.
If you are worried that she will not get all of her food, continue to feed them at the same time (to prevent food guarding) but hang around to make sure they both stay in their own bowls until the food is gone.
It doesn't sound like you have too many problems here. If you continue to intervene, you must might though :
As long as there is no biting or injuries, let them learn all by themselves how to communicate with each other. If you feel Maggie is having too much trouble reading Suzie, or if she is playing too rough, introduce a cue to stop the play and cut her off at the pass. Otherwise, they will do just fine
To err is human:To forgive, canine."
As hard as it may seem it's better to let the dogs sort it out. Support their pack order, if there is an obvious one. Being the dominant one doesn't make Maggie less lovable..they're dogs that's what they do. Ultimately it's your house they need to live by your rules but some things are better left to them.
My Autumn was rude..she ignored other dogs body language etc. until one day she got "corrected"..it was hard for me to watch but the other dog never hurt her it was more noise than anything. It took more than one time too..but she got there. Now she knows if the dog walks away, ingnores her or growls..it's a warning "knock it off". Gunny has always had another dog in his life he has way better social skiills because of it. But at times he gets "pushy" and Autumn lets him know to "knock it off". Gunny is younger but more dominant than Autumn, he's ALWAYS gotta be out the door before her, down the steps, across any threshold..so I let him and I feed him first. I've never had a problem they are fairly even in temperment.
I trained "ENOUGH" when I want them to calm down in the house, they know to stop wrestling/bitey face etc. or "OUTSIDE" and they run to the door..this is normally when I high speed chase is about to break out.
I agree with what has been said here.
Most times the noise from wrestling is worse than the action. Rider and Drake sound like WWIII but in reality, they are having the time of their lives.
Let the work it out. It won't come over night...but it will. Spend time training them individually and together...that will help the pack better than those other things.
You need to make sure both dogs respect and trust you...their interaction will come.
Dani, Rider & Rookie
SHR Watson's Safari Rider, JH, WC, CL1-R, RA, CGC, TDI
SHR Endeavor Put Me In Coach, RN, WC, CGC
Member Since 6/2003
Thanks everyone. Lord knows I am not an expert, and that's why I came here to get some good sound advice. I felt so prepared and educated when we got Maggie, but I felt a lot less so when we got Suzie. Thanks for your help and I will just let them settle everything out. They are learning the rules of the house, and I promise they know who's boss. If I can get this multiple dogs in the house thing down I think I will be ready for kids! ;D
First thank you for getting Suzi Q out of an awful situation. Idiot breeder! Can you imagine what the pups that the brother will sire are going to be like? If Suzi Q isn't going to defend herself in the house then I would step in and not allow Maggie to beat her up.
Well...we have decided that in the house, there is no rough play from either one of them. They are catching on pretty well. Outside, it seems to be more even keel. Maggie will dominate, but Suzie Q will step up every once in a while too. They are doing better and better each day. Maggie is definitely the dominate one, but Suzie Q is growing more and more confident. I was really feeling up in arms about it the other day, but it's getting better. Suzie Q is a really affectionate priss and Maggie is an over rambunctious tom-boy. So, it's always interesting to see what happens when they are together. On a serious note, whatever (and I mean whatever) Suzie Q has (bone, toy, whatever) Maggie has to take or try to take it away from her. Should I stop this too? I have not been. For example, there are toys that we got Maggie that for whatever reason never interested Maggie. But, now that Suzie is in the picture, if Suzie likes that toy that has never been played with, Maggie all of the sudden has a great interest in it as well. So much so that she just comes and snatches it away from Suzie.
Just like human kids. No that stuff I wouldn't stop as long as there aren't any fights. You have already said it, Maggie is the dominant dog and she is reminding Suzi of that fact. Hopefully this will resolve itself soon and each dog will accept its position within the pack.