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Old 02-29-2016, 04:55 AM
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Default Growing pains or potential problems?

Oookkkaaayyy...so recently I posted about how Finley has become a tyrant to our cat, chasing him and bullying him. We have been working on teaching him to be nice to the cat, and it's going okay...I would have said it was going pretty well, but Finley seemed to forget everything two days ago and had another bad cat-bullying day, so it's a work in progress...

He's actually quite the damn tyrant in general at this point. Don't get me wrong, he's still a very happy, playful, loving puppy who we adore. But he's also quite the butt head right now. What I need to know, is if this is "normal" puppy maturing behaviour that will settle soon, or if it's the start of some serious issues that we need to do more to fix now.

We have never had two male dogs before, so this is new to us and I don't want to write it off as "growing pains" and then regret it if it becomes a massive problem later.

He has reached the stage - he's not quite 10 months old now - where he's decided he's all grown up now and king of the world. He has starting testing Gizmo for dominance...they have started fighting more often. Not all the time, but it's a daily occurrence at least once or twice a day now; typically they start by playing, but it gets rough and next thing we know they're actually fighting. We totally leave them be and let them go at it (with close supervision of course) to sort it out. Gizmo always puts him in his place, and after a minute Finley rolls over and submits. But he keeps trying.

Over the last two days, he has twice now picked fights with Tinkerbell. She starts playing with a toy, and he immediately drops what he's doing to go steal it from her. On these occasions, she has told him off when he takes it, and he immediately fights back. Again, we have left them so she can put him in his place - BUT, while she does fight back, she very quickly has backed down and let him win, and off he goes with the toy. Obviously, I'm sure this is going to his overinflated puppy head and not helping the situation - PLUS, she's miserable about it when it happens. She sulks, immediately loses interest in playing, and seems a bit tense if he's near for a while afterwards. I'm worried he may figure out how easy it is to bully Tink and start harassing her like he does the cat...

And he's an absolute jerk when we take him out and he sees any other dog. Won't stop barking at the dog.

So, I wanted some opinions - growing pains that we need to wait out, or problems brewing? Obviously, I have no intention of letting him get away with this bad behaviour - we are working on him with Oliver, and we are going to start packing snacks around with us when we take him out so we can redirect his attention when he barks at another dog, making him sit/lie down etc. Our breeder also suggested randomly putting him on his back and gently pinning him down for a few seconds throughout the day to help remind him of his place. I wanted to see what you knowledgeable people had to say )
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Old 02-29-2016, 05:56 AM
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YES mine is 10 months old now, although neutered just before 7 months he is only now showing signs of overcoming the butthead stage.

How does yours act if close to a strange dog on a walk?

The barking at other dogs on walks thing he's been going through for months now, and only now just starting to stop that. He will still bark at dogs around our house (territorial) but if we really run his legs off then the second half of the walk there won't be a peep. We have really had to work on this. I give him an hour and a half walk every day and that is pure practice time! It was very sunny and warm down at the river so we took him the other Sunday, and he barked at nearly everything. For him I know it's too much excitement. It almost seems like he has Tourettes in that even when he's laying down, looking at me and knows to quiet the bark is involuntary and trying to escape. He also used to charge into the dog park barking each time. He's stopped that though.

What helped on the walk was doing a lot of brisk uphill walking, putting a backpack on him (I made a tiny one) and practice of correction when barking at another dog. Yours may give signs before barking. That's when you correct. Mine got wiggly and fixated and over the top excited, that's when I corrected and kept walking. Now he knows looking and sniffing at another dog is fine, staring, growling and charging is not.

The pinning down thing I wouldn't attempt. I think it's better to correct him in the exact circumstances you don't like (and want him to change) rather than just show you are boss. It seems like he's only testing his place within the dog-world which I've heard is very normal for them at this point.

Edit: I also wanted to say that the forgetting things stuff is also normal at this point. It's like every day is the first time all over!

Try googling: adolescent male dog behavior there are some very interesting and helpful articles out there.

Last edited by Momo; 02-29-2016 at 06:03 AM.
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Old 02-29-2016, 01:44 PM
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Oh, yes, I'm not faulting him for forgetting that he has to be nice to the cat...lol I just feel bad for the cat when he forgets.

He's pretty easy to read when he's going to start barking at another dog. It happens very quickly, but he locks on visually and takes a defensive stance and starts barking his little puppy head off.

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Old 02-29-2016, 04:34 PM
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Please don't do the 'alpha roll', it is outdated, cruel, confusing and will make Finley scared of you.
Dominance theory is outdated, dogs do not have a fixed hierarchy. They are not motivated by the urge to be 'top dog'. They NEVER try and dominate humans. (Hence no need to ever physically bully by alpha rolling or similar)
This theory was based on flawed research on wolves that has since been disproven by the original researcher. Even wolves do not act like this!
So stop worrying about 'dominance' and pack theory, it really does not apply to domestic dogs

The only time a dog will 'pull rank' is over access to resources. So when Fin gets bolshy because he wants a toy that Tink has, that is as close to 'dominance' as you will see between dogs.

The barking is probably insecurity, it commonly starts after a young dog is neutered. Work on building his confidence around other dogs, without letting them get so close that he goes above his threshold and he feels the need to bark.
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Old 02-29-2016, 04:51 PM
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What would happen if you took Tink's toy away from Finley and returned it to Tink? Would he try again to get it? Does Fin have a similar toy that you could give him, after you return Tinks toy? Or another toy that he loves? If he is acting like a tyrant, then a time out might work?
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Old 02-29-2016, 05:08 PM
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Okay good, I wasn't particularly fond of the flip and pin him idea. If not dominance, what would be causing the fights between the two boys?
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Old 02-29-2016, 05:11 PM
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If we take the toy he stole and give it back to Tink, he lunges for it again. And then she doesn't want to play anymore.
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Old 02-29-2016, 07:24 PM
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Could be anything. 'Dominance' is often blamed for all sorts of bad behaviour, he is probably just being bolshy and bad mannered, a disrespectful teenager.
There will be a point before the play escalates into fighting where you need to intervene. I would keep play sessions short and supervised, do not let them fight at all as it can become habit.
Watch Gizmo for signs that he wants the play to end or things to calm down. Or any body language that indicates he is uncomfortable. If Finley isn't listening to Gizmo, this is when you should distract him and end the play session.
Doing more training with Finley will help at this age. Keep him busy both mentally and physically, and work on building the bond between you, it will help with his insecurities
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