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Old 06-11-2014, 02:15 PM
 
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So my family, until February, had a pit bull (female, 4, Sugar) and a mutt (male, (neutered), 3, Rock). Sugar passed away in February, and in late April we adopted a new dog (male (neutered), ~ 1, Ajax) - he looks vaguely like a husky mix and is slightly bigger than Rock. Rock and Ajax are both rescues from animal services (Ajax was abandoned, no history).
Sugar (who passed away) and Rock had a very good dynamic - Rock is very dumb and, as we like to say, socially awkward. Sugar was much smarter than Rock and knew how to keep him in line - he would do something dumb and she would bark, growl, nip etc. to gently correct him. Sugar was submissive with my other family member's dogs (who live separately) but as soon as Rock came she immediately established pack order - This gave me the impression that Rock is very submissive.
Unfortunately, Ajax, our new dog, in addition to being very much a puppy, appears to be completely unsocialized with other dogs. He doesn't get aggressive, per se, but he will chase Rock around asking to play, and Rock will be saying "No, no, no, no, no, I don't want to play" and the way I perceive it is that Ajax does not understand that Rock is saying no. I am no behaviorist, and only have real experience with those dogs I have personally owned, but my impression is that Rock is trying to submit, but when Ajax, as the dominant dog, should accept that submission and then not harass him, Ajax does not recognize the submission. Then, since Rock really wants Ajax to stop, he will try to express dominance behaviors, and Ajax will then repeat those behaviors, thinking that they're playing. Rock comes out of these interactions extremely clingy to us, as the owners, and will basically try to hide from Ajax. Rock is very high strung and easily confused, so I get the impression he just doesn't really understand and just wants it to stop.
I will separate these interactions and have another person play tug of war or whatever with Ajax while I pet Rock.
Ajax will also get in the way of us when we try to pet or otherwise interact with Rock. My family thinks this is cute and calls it "cuddle interception" but my problem is that Ajax does not get in Rock's way and try to move him, he will try to change our actions so that we will pet him instead. I find it to be an attempt to dominate us, not Rock. After I repeatedly ignored his attempts to divert me and paid attention to him only after he stopped trying to get in between me and Rock, he has gotten better about not shoving me away from him/ shoving Rock away from me.
Ajax also does kind of stupid things that I read as attempts at dominance, like repeatedly taking away whatever toys we give Rock, even when he has to abandon another toy he has already stolen to get it. My previous dogs, who had established pack orders, never resorted to that sort of cheap trick, and I see it as yet another sign of their issues with establishing dominance.
He will also get in a bed before us and then growl when we try to move him.
Ajax also seems to be stubborn in following our commands. It's almost as if he's testing us, and my family members tend to accommodate him, which I see as allowing him to feel as if he has the control in the pet/owner relationship. I have a negative sound I use to correct both him and Rock. It's a very guttural "EH" sort of sound that I use when I want a dog to IMMEDIATELY stop whatever they're doing. Most dogs that I meet/interact with recognize that noise as a correction without training. Rock will always sort of freeze and then I can reward him, show him what to do, etc. But Ajax will put his ears back, tuck his tail, and continue doing whatever behavior I want him to stop. This says to me that he knows I want him to stop but is refusing.
Again, neither Rock nor Ajax have ever been aggressive towards us or towards each other. I'm not worried about their physical safety but for their general happiness and future relationship.
My thought was to try and socialize Ajax with other dogs, but I'm afraid he would just make other dogs really angry (he has annoyed my brothers' dogs)
I just really want advice on how to try and get the two dogs to where they have a positive relationship. (Thanks for wading through my post)
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Old 06-11-2014, 02:18 PM
 
Location: Ohio
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What about an obedience training class? He can learn to obey and socialize in a different setting.

Your original 2 dogs lived together, were used to each other and different sexes plus similar in age. the new dog is a puppy, male, and is the new guy around.
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Old 06-11-2014, 02:38 PM
 
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Thanks for the advice - do you think I should take them both together so that they have positive experiences in a neutral place together, or just take Ajax and focus on the relationship with him?
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Old 06-11-2014, 02:38 PM
 
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Dominance relates strictly to priority access to resources, so when you talk about snatching toys and hogging bed space I have to grudgingly admit that those are indeed resources. However, I think you should throw out a lot of your ideas about dominance / submission when it comes to general interaction between dogs.

If one dog is annoying the other, I would step in and give the offending dog something better to do. This reassures the annoyed dog that YOU are in charge and will protect him, so he never has to escalate past a couple warning signals directed at the other dog.

Encourage all appropriate interaction with praise. If you can get the new dog into a playgroup monitored by trained professionals that might be helpful. I'd locate such a group by going to the CCPDT website (Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers) or the Pet Professional Guild website and looking up trainers in your area. Call and find out if their facilities offer supervised playgroups. They are usually very inexpensive. Here are those websites:

CCPDT (go to "find training and behavior consultants" and search for facilities in your area.)

The Pet Professional Guild (go to "fetch a professional" and enter your location.)

Walk them together daily. I do believe it helps them bond.
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Old 06-11-2014, 03:48 PM
 
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I'll accept that I'm over analyzing their interactions. I would argue, however, that the attention of an owner is a "resource" that one dog can try and deny another. If he is getting attention from one person, he will leave that person to get in the way of the other dog getting attention. It's not about getting attention so much as preventing the other dog from getting it.
And dogs always seem to get worked up about mounting more than any other type of play so I find it hard to believe that it is normal play as opposed to wrestling/tug of war etc.

Thanks for the advice - I'll be sure to look into getting someone to help me help them interact.
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Old 06-11-2014, 04:06 PM
 
1,699 posts, read 3,371,553 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eozfrost View Post
I'll accept that I'm over analyzing their interactions. I would argue, however, that the attention of an owner is a "resource" that one dog can try and deny another. If he is getting attention from one person, he will leave that person to get in the way of the other dog getting attention. It's not about getting attention so much as preventing the other dog from getting it.
And dogs always seem to get worked up about mounting more than any other type of play so I find it hard to believe that it is normal play as opposed to wrestling/tug of war etc.

Thanks for the advice - I'll be sure to look into getting someone to help me help them interact.
I agree that attention from the owner can be a resource. I just want you to get past the idea that the way dogs interact is that one dog is dominant and the other is submissive.

Mounting is absolutely a normal part of dog behavior and as you noted, is often seen in play. Here are some of the many reasons a dog may mount / "hump":

1) To get attention. (It's pretty much 100% effective!)

2) To initiate interaction. (Similar to #1)

3) To test bonds and boundaries. (This one is most fascinating to me and can be observed in stable, established packs. Mounting is like asking the question "will you let me do this kind of annoying thing to you?" The answer helps define the relationship.)

4) To relieve anxiety or release over-arousal (Just like barking or zoomies or any number of energy releasing actions.)

5) To displace an uncomfortable emotional state, for example when the dog feels worried or conflicted. (Here, humping is just like other displacement behaviors i.e. licking, scratching, yawning: normal dog behavior displayed out of context. Scratching when there is no itch. Humping when there is no mating taking place. Displacement of an uncomfortable emotional state.)

Just because mounting is normal doesn't necessarily mean we as owners should allow it to go on - if one dog is bothering another I think it is totally warranted for the owner to step in and redirect. But if it doesn't seem to be bothering anyone... eh let it go.
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Old 06-13-2014, 02:23 PM
 
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I don't think that it is as simple as one dog is completely in charge of the other, but as in human relationships, there's usually one person who tends to say "Hey let's do this". My two dogs seem to be stalled in figuring out how to relate to one another. They both seem to kind of mill around.
I really appreciate your advice - I think I just needed someone to tell me that it was normal.
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