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Moviedust
17th July 2006, 05:40 PM
Since Willow joined us, we have a 2 dog household. I've personally never owned 2 dogs at once before, and I'm curious what sort of behaviors are related to their establishment of heirarchy. I've seen dogs play before, but as these two spend more time together, I see more behaviors that are less familiar.

What are the signs of a heirarchy challenge and what are signs of subordination?

WoodHaven
17th July 2006, 06:40 PM
A lot of play behaviors mimic alpha/subordinate domination. Stealing toys can be for fun-- My alpha male will allow most females to steal his stuff (one exception) the other males know better. Sandy

Karlin
17th July 2006, 07:59 PM
Good books on this:

The Other End of the Leash: Patricia McConnell
The Culture Clash: Jean Donaldson

Tara (TKC), who is an APDT certified dog behaviouralist and trainer, recommends:


If a dogs prayers were answered..bones would rain from the sky
Suzanne Clothier
A Super Book and present for Christmas. It is informative from a canine behaviour point of view but it is also a true story about a wonderful Journey.

Canine Body Language, A Photographic Guide
Brenda Aloff
Never before has canine body language been so thoroughly documented with photographs and text! Hundreds of images in this almost 400 page book illustrate the incredible variety of postures, behaviors and situations that the typical dog either manifests or encounters in his day-to-day life. There isn't a dog trainer or behaviorist who won't learn something new in this incredible volume. And there isn't a dog owner who won't welcome the new insights they will gain into the behavior of the family dog.



She also recommends Dominance: Fact or Fiction by Barry Eaton

The body language book is one of the best ways to recognise what your dogs are indicating to each other and to you.

It is hard to generalise how dogs negotiate who fits where. generally they will challenge each other, and it is good to know when they are doing this non-aggressively and when their body language says things are going to get out of order.

To show how hard it is for the untrained observer to recognise what is going on with dogs:

1) a dominant dog has the option of taking the toys, chews etc desired

2) the dominant dog has the option of allowing the other dogs to steal those very same toys, chews, from her or him

So which are you seeing? It is very hard to tell. many people would say -- dog X is the dominant dog because Dog Y steals all her toys all the time and she never protests. But that may be the very sign of the dog that is the leader -- dog leaders tend to be benign dictators.

Leo is. Almost *everybody* thinks Jaspar is the dominant dog because he's more active, more playful, is the one who usually gets the toys, is more pushy and demanding.... but very close watching reveals Leo is actually number one dog as he actually allows jaspar to get away with almost anything and everythin g; he's so good natured and gentle but he can be steely if he wants.

It is easier to tell if you have more than two because then you have two dogs indicating in different ways that the dominant dog is dominant. Lily for example ignores Jaspar but licks Leo's mouth and face all the time, which he allows. This is clear submission behaviour. It isn't 'affection', as we'd like to think sometimes!

The only people who have ever pegged quickly that Leo is the dominant dog in my house are Tara and Lisa and they are trainers. :lol: Patricia McConnell is very good on a lot of this and the signals that pass between dogs -- and how you may well never be able to tell who is dominant. :) Plus, the roles change depending on new dogs that enter the group.

Jen
17th July 2006, 08:27 PM
In our household Abbey is the dominant dog, even though she is shy around people, she runs the roost where Gus is concerned. She lets him do anything, to a point, then she tells him off and he sulks. It's pretty funny to watch! Gus also does the face-licking that Karlin mentions. When they're playing and she's done, she'll snap a bit, he'll walk away, come back and licka her face and mouth. She may play again or she'll quiver her lip and he'll back off. Sometimes it seems he listens to her more than he does us! He also waits for Abbey to finish drinking, even though there are two bowls, he sits and waits until she's done and then approaches. We're just starting to let them have chews in the same room--usually he has his in his crate, but now we're seeing how they do in the same room together. He's yet to try to steal hers, but she'll just walk up to him and take his :lol:
My sister's labs are really funny when it comes to this stuff--the one will act like she has to go out to go potty, knowing that her sister will follow. Once the door is open, her sister bounds out into the yard, and she then "decides" she doesn't have to go and turns around to go get the chew that her sister had been working on! :lol: Too funny!!


What type of behaviors are you seeing?

Moviedust
17th July 2006, 08:36 PM
What type of behaviors are you seeing?

Well, for the first week or so they were just getting acquainted enough to interact with each other independently from humans. Now they are interacting, and some behaviors are sticking out to me.

For example, this morning they were playing around. Then they got quiet. Willow was standing on the step up out of the sunroom, and Cedar was standing in the sunroom. This puts willow up a bit higher than Cedar, but Cedar's taller, so they were pretty even. They were stuck together nose to nose and didnt move for a minute. I thought at first they were smelling each other, but they werent sniffing much. Eventually, Willow licked Cedar's mouth, and then they smelled ears and then pressed their noses together again. As quickly as it started, it was over.

I've also seen Willow throw her butt at Cedar while racing. They'll run along and then when Cedar stops, Willow comes up and throws her butt against Cedar's head and spins around to face her.

Jen
17th July 2006, 08:41 PM
What type of behaviors are you seeing?
Eventually, Willow licked Cedar's mouth, and then they smelled ears and then pressed their noses together again. As quickly as it started, it was over.

I've also seen Willow throw her butt at Cedar while racing. They'll run along and then when Cedar stops, Willow comes up and throws her butt against Cedar's head and spins around to face her.

It sounds like Willow is starting to feel more comfortable and therefore testing the waters. If she was trying to be at eye level with Cedar, she was probably trying to stand her ground, but then "gave in" and licked her mouth letting her know that she understands who's the boss. Our cats do this, if one is on the bed, the other has to be higher so he sleeps on the dresser. If one is on the dresser, then the other has to be higher and sleeps on top of the TV that's on the dresser. :lol:
The butt thing is interesting, as Gus has just started doing this with Abbey. I plan on asking our trainer about this tonight when we go to class. When they play, he'll turn and press his butt/back legs against Abbey and try to press her against the wall, etc. I think it may be a way of seeming heavier, as he shifts his weight against her. I don't know, but I'll see what our trainer says.

Alison_Leighfield
17th July 2006, 09:59 PM
My Sheltie Rosie is top dog in my home, she is the quietest dog and so very gentle. My others watch her for signals all the time, she is always the next out the door/gate behind myself with the others following her, she never walks infront of myself up the house stairs to the bedrooms she is always behind, she eats slowly and the others just stand back and watch when they have finished theirs....they never touch her food dish but drink the water from the same bowl freely with her.

Living in a multi dog home is very interesting, lots to observe all the time.

Yes Rosie is top dog, gentle, kind and firm with them, she has their respect and I have a happy pack.

I would be lost without her!

Alison, Wilts, U.K.

JaneB
17th July 2006, 10:30 PM
Fauna rules our household. And her method is totally passive/aggressive. It is so funny to watch her torment poor Flora. Like when Flora is eating, Fauna will creep up behind her and stand just close enough to invade Flora's personal space. She does the same thing with toys - lays down near Flora knowing full well that she has Flora's favorite plaything. Poor Flora, she doesn't have a clue that Fauna is manipulating her. When they head outside, Fauna always takes the lead and then waits for Flora to exit so she can give her a "nip" and a "growl" just so she knows who's boss. Don't you wish people were so easy to read?

JaneB

molly
17th July 2006, 10:45 PM
Living in a multiple dog house is fun. They are amazing to watch. My oldest is definitely King here. He is the most laid back and gentle of my dogs. But he has quietly let each dog know that he is boss. They all lick his face in submission. There is a good book called "On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals" by Turid Rugaas that helps explain dog behavior. She also has a video out of dog behavior that is really helpful. Like freeze, turn/arc your body and face away and yawn if being charged by a dog! Amazing stuff that really works with the dogs.

I see the hip and body slams all the time when my 2 youngest play. The female is half the size of the puppy male but gives as good as she gets. It's generally Wrestlemania Smackdown around here!

Maxxs_Mummy
18th July 2006, 12:40 AM
Oh yes, Alison's Rosie is definitely top dog. She's more regal than the Cavaliers too - she's extremely dainty but posh - for those of you Brits if you can remember Coronation street's annie Walker - well that's Rosie :lol:

In our house, Maxx is most definitely top dog. He's very quiet and laid back and lets Charlie take all his toys and everything else. He'd even let him have his dinner to a point and at one stage was atucally being ullied by Charlie who kept snapping at him. Maxx had obviously had enough of this behaviour from the whippersnapper though.

Now, however, when enough is enough Maxx will let Charlie know with a quick snappy noise - no contact has ever been made but Charlie will immediately back off and then creep round Maxx by licking his face and bringing him toys & things. He also has a disgusting habit of washing Maxx's underneath bits :yuk: - usually when Maxx has told him off :roll:

The funniest thing they do though is with their chewies. Charlie will always want the one Maxx has and will chase him for it - he must know by now that he'll never win :roll: :lol:

Maxx will just sit on his bed holding the chewie until Charlie has softened the top of his - then he'll get up and swipe the chewie from Charlie and get back on his bed again. Charlie just sits and looks at him as if he's shocked :lol:

Karlin
18th July 2006, 02:07 PM
It is so funny to watch her torment poor Flora. Like when Flora is eating, Fauna will creep up behind her and stand just close enough to invade Flora's personal space. She does the same thing with toys - lays down near Flora knowing full well that she has Flora's favorite plaything. Poor Flora, she doesn't have a clue that Fauna is manipulating her. When they head outside, Fauna always takes the lead and then waits for Flora to exit so she can give her a "nip" and a "growl" just so she knows who's boss.

Interestingly, all these signs may indicate just the opposite! :) As noted the play behaviour between dogs often mimics more serious behaviour) and I would guess it is very likely that what you are seeing is the more submissive dog doing all these things to the one that actually makes the decisions. Dominant dogs in the house don't generally have to keep proving things like this or challenging, whereas the other dogs may well play with the more dominant dog in this way, knowing this playful behaviour is tolerated. Jaspar for example always is taking toys from Leo and likes to sit just out of reach with ALL the toys, much to Leo's occasional annoyance. But Leo rarely challenges to take anything away. The dominant dog is almost always the one who allows all this type of behaviour as they have nothing to prove, and it is a bit of play for them.

That's why all the aggressive and dominant training approaches, if you think about it, should logically teach fear, not respect, and can cause serious behavioural and aggression problems, rather than resolve them. Few dogs fight to settle who gets the most respect. Usually there's just some minor bickering, if anything at all. So imagine us coming in and shouting commands, yelling 'No', jerking the dog with leash corrections, pushing their face in their feces, hitting... you'll never see the equivalent from a respected dog leader. :) The dog leader however makes the decisions about food, play, toys... and is generally gentle but firm unless the situation is way out of hand and extremely dangerous/anxious (eg the leader loses his/her place and the pack needs to resolve who takes that spot). Isn't it strange that so many trainers then take the example of fighting, captive wolves, rather than the example of the dogs before them, for the best training techniques? Be gentle and firm, and control access to food/treats, toys/rewards, play/rewards, praise/rewards, and see how fast a dog learns. :D

Incidentally there are all sorts of new issues that come up as soon as you own two or more dogs, but especially three or more, as it does bring out pack behaviour (I am seeing this with Lily aded in, all the time). One can set off all the others to do what normally they would never do -- attack a cat or another dog, run away as a pack, chase as a group, etc. With the three I now have it is barking and whining or all deciding to pull hard on leads. Cavaliers seem to be less likely than many trypes of dog to do this but I've sat in sessions with professional trainers who will talk about how careful you need to be as soon as there are three or more dogs living together.

misty
18th July 2006, 09:36 PM
Karlin, I'm confused.

Cailean and Declan lived apart for a couple of years when my ex-husband and I parted.

When they were reunited, Declan exhibited the following behaviour with Cailean:

(1) mounting him
(2) licking Cailean's eyes

I'm confused because I thought mounting was dominance and face licking was submission.

What do you reckon?

Mary
19th July 2006, 03:43 AM
I think Declan was just so darn happy to see him...he didn't know what to do or think! Happy dog happy dog :)

misty
19th July 2006, 05:11 PM
I think Declan was just so darn happy to see him...he didn't know what to do or think! Happy dog happy dog :)

awwwwwww - what a lovely thought!

Declan was amazing, I must admit!

Cathy Moon
20th July 2006, 02:43 AM
I once had a Veterinarian Behaviorist at my house because we had a serious problem with our puppies (a few years ago) eating acorns and getting ill. (Even when we had them on a leash in the back yard we constantly had to pull acorns out of their mouths! :shock: ) Plus Geordie was sort of maladjusted or not properly socialized at the time.

Anyways, we got in a discussion about dominant / submissive dogs, and we told the vet we thought Geordie was the top dog in our house. She had been watching them closely for awhile, then she said the top dog is usually the secure, laid back dog, not the more active, higher strung one. She felt India, who is sweet, quiet and laid back, is the top dog. But she also said that domesticated companion dogs have no need for a strong hierarchical system like wolves do.

It's interesting to watch them, though. Geordie and India play and rough-house every day since they've been together the longest. Now Chocolate and Geordie have a new rivalry going to see who is first out the back door, first off the deck, and first to a corner of the yard!! Geordie tries to body block her from getting ahead and has even grabbed her by the ear, it's very entertaining. :lol: