Playing or competing for dominance?
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Thread: Playing or competing for dominance?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007

    DefaultPlaying or competing for dominance?

    Our 17 week old lab, Ella, has always "tried" to play with our 10 year old 10 pound yorkie Max, by pawing at him and chasing him. The yorkie wants none of it. We always treat Max as the Alpha (feed him first, greet him first, he does not get scolded for nipping or barking at Ella). Max always responds to Ella by trying to bite her and barking like crazy. He can't hurt her because well, she outweighs him by 25 pounds and he has no front teeth to speak of. We wind up seperating them because we are afraid that Ella will hurt him because she always gets him cornered and winds up slamming him into walls and running over him. She bites at him but seems to know where to draw the line and doesn't chomp down but we have seen her nip him pretty good in the leg and butt. We have tried putting her in crate time outs whenever she is overly aggressive in her play but we just can't seem to curb the behavior. Will she grow out of this and recognize he is the alpha and she should respect him? Is this her competing for dominance? We just don't know because this is a first for us. Any help, shared experience will help!

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  3. #2
    Baloo317's Avatar
    Baloo317 is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2009

    DefaultRe: Playing or competing for dominance?

    this is going to sound funny, and others will probably disagree, but I think you need to "claim" him.

    She needs to know that YOU are the alpha dogs, the "pack leaders", and what you say goes.

    You need to convince her that he belongs to you, and he is not a toy for her to play with. Because you are the pack leaders, and because he belongs to you, she will start to respect him.

    example: when she starts to go up to him and initiate play behaviour (pawing him, etc.) you would get in between him and her and not let her get near him. Use a quick, harsh-sounding sound to get her to pay attention and respect the boundaries that you have set.(ie, ah ah! or sssht!) its really hard to illustrate those sounds over the net LOL ;D

    Create an invisible semi-circle around him that she's not allowed in. In order for this to be effective you must be consistent, and do it every time she "acts up"

    however, when she is respectful of him, just leave them be, that will teach her what behaviour is appropriate to use around him, and what behaviour is inappropriate.

    I hope I explained that decently, it's pretty much adapted from cesar millan's method, so maybe look up a little on him?

    Best of luck!
    Baloo - 5 year old black lab
    Peanut - 7 year old minpin
    Monster - 3-ish year old frenchie/jack, rescue
    We're Superdogs!

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2006

    DefaultRe: Playing or competing for dominance?

    No it isn't dominance. It sounds like typical play for a pup with no doggy manners. Unfortunately it sounds like Max is too small/old to teach her manners so it's up to you. You need to control the type and amount of play. Labs are a rough and tumble kind of dog. Their play could easily hurt a small dog like a Yorkie. They can be taught to play nice together but if Max has reached his limit, you should separate them. I'd make sure Ella gets in some good rough play with someone her own size who is capable of putting her in her place. It will help burn off some energy and allow her to play more gently with Max. If you don't know of anyone with a dog of similiar size, try doggy day care once or twice a week. Max will thank you for it.

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  6. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007

    DefaultRe: Playing or competing for dominance?

    Both replies make perfect sense to me. I think we have inadvertantly been rewarding her behavior by reacting so dramatically to her rough play. I have been trying to head off some of this by getting her outside and playing fetch and letting her rip around and wear herself out when I know she is probably getting bored and Max looks like the next best chew toy in the house.
    Thanks for your input!

  7. #5
    Brigettas Mom is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2006

    DefaultRe: Playing or competing for dominance?

    I have a similar situation with Brigetta and Prudence (dachshund mix). I have seen Prudence take on an alpha role when my dogs are with other dogs, but at home I take the alpha role. Brigetta will try to get Prudence to play with her, she'll play bow, nip at her, bark, etc. Prudence is much older and just doesn't play anymore so she'll bark, growl, and go after Brigetta. Because of Prudence's age I usually step in. I either use the "settle" command or (I know this may sound weird, but it works for me) I give the "leave it" command. If I see Brigetta approaching Prudence I can say "leave it" and it usually stops anything from happening. I've had Brigetta for almost a year now and she has gotten better, but she still doesn't get that Prudence isn't going to play with her. Only once in a year have I seen them play together. After I give the settle command, as soon as Brigetta stops bothering Prudence I give her a treat. I don't have to reinforce the leave it command with a treat anymore. I also give Brigetta something else to play with.
    Good luck.

    Teresa, mom to Brigetta and Prudence


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