View Full Version : Marking/dominance issues w/ 9 month old--need advice/help.

13th September 2006, 06:30 PM
My good friend Lou has Chester's 9 month old nephew Becket and he is a wonderful, sweet, awesome little guy BUT a few days ago he did something really odd and Lou wants your opinions.

A few nights ago Lou was sitting on the edge of her bed talking on the phone with her Mother when Becket jumped up on the bed walked up behind his Mommy and peed right on her back. Lou was totally shocked and has no idea why he would do something like that. She asked Becket's trainer when they went to puppy obedience class and all she had to offer was that it was probably a dominance/marking issue.

Has his happened to anyone else? Should she and her Hubby do some work on stressing their dominance and not let him up on the bed again? From everything I've seen on "Dog Whisperer" I think he was marking her as a dominance thing.

I have experienced his marking/dominanace issues first hand and the first time he came here to my house he cocked up his leg and marked my refridgerator. He then proceeded to hump Chetser every half hour or so until Chester showed him who was boss of the house.

Any ideas why he has such a BIG DOG attitude and what Lou can do to stop it?

14th September 2006, 09:43 AM
We still have to watch Ozzy - especially when I change the duvet cover, we think he is just leaving his scent on things because they don't smell of dogs...... could she have put on clean PJ's?

14th September 2006, 11:33 AM
No no no -- not dominance.

I hate that *&%£^@ dog whisperer for taking training back about 40 years to theories that no one coming out of any modern dog behaviour qualification programme believes any more. YES his techniques are effective -- because you scare or gently bully your dog into submission. Gentle bullying (eg forcing the dog to walk behind you, pulling it up short, and into place etc etc) is still bullying and a dog sees it that way, That is not the relationship I would ever want with any dog particularly a cavalier. I'd rather have the dog want to work with me out of trust, not wariness. Dominance has become the easiest answer to every problem for many trainers and is one of the most complex of dog relationships and very badly understood.

Humping and marking are TOTALLY NORMAL dog behaviours and are only PROBLEMS because we would prefer they are not done. Hence it is OUR job to train away from them, especially at 9 months when a young male has his hormones raging and is actively trying out these new behaviours (he is like a teenage boy and for modesty's sake I will not go into what kinds of things teenage boys might be trying out at 14 but gals, you might remember feeling some of the same urges yourself :lol:). Dogs mark new houses because they are marking territory, NOT displaying dominance. he is saying 'hey I was here'. Every single male I have had in my house as a foster has tried to mark. These are gentle, sometimes abused cavaliers, not aggressive, dominant dogs trying to show dominance behaviours.

So those are my cards on the table!

I will ask Tara or Lisa to have a look and give an opinion here, but my guess is that

1) he is at the age when he is starting to mark. So either neuter or start to work to actively train away from this or both

2) dogs at this age very often wee into bedding -- and I would suggest he was actually marking the bedding, and only happened to get her (after all a 9 month old is not exactly the most adept at weeing much less marking. They are only just learning to lift a leg and balance and Jaspar used to almost fall over sometimes at this age, or miss his aim entirely). The reason dogs mark bedding is that it is full of all the rich yummy earthy scents of us sleeping there -- our sweat, other fluids and semi-fluids, our personal scent. Some dogs seem to mark there just as they wee on top of each other's wee (amongst household dogs) and to mark the bed as part of their territory they are comfortable in. He has NO idea that the bed should not be a luscious wee spot unless he has been trained to not go there; and at any rate only 9 months is still an age for mistakes. Weeing on beds must be one of the most common accidents dogs have as they gradually learn to not go anywhere in a house.

The solution is -- a 9 month old still needs close supervision and cannot be considered a fully housetrained dog; he's only a puppy. Giving him the run of the house is probably too much freedom and now they will know to be very cautious with him in a bedroom as he doesn't yet make the connection that this is a place not to go.

At this age I think pups just sometimes get a bit mixed up and try to wee in innappropriate places. Jaspar once started to lift his leg on the leg of my neighbour who was sitting on his step petting Jaspar!!
:sl*p: Jaspar is the most submissive dog imaginable and he just loves Frank next door. But he needed to do a little wee and was learning to mark as well and suddenly there was a leg, not unlike a post in his mind. The idea that he was being dominant with Frank is just laughable; he wriggles like mad when he sees Frank and rolls onto his back. :lol: If he were a bit older he'd probably have tried the wall or the edge of the step.

Excellent reading on dominance:


From the wonderful, world famous behaviouralist Dr Ian Dunbar.

The very relevant bit for what has happened with your friend's pup:

Unfortunately, the real danger of the alpha-concept of physical dominance lies in its questionable extrapolation to dog training and husbandry. Instead of being educational, many so-called 'training' methods are just downright adversarial if not abusive; the dog is often viewed as our enemy, rather than as our best friend. Many playful, greeting and fearful gestures are misinterpreted as being aggressive, providing the unthinking owner with a convenient excuse to abuse the dog under the guise of 'training'.

For example, snapping, pilo-erection, growling and lip-curling are often misconstrued as signs of dominance, whereas they are, in fact, more usually signs of fear - most probably the direct product of a person pounding on the poor dog. Similarly, owners are advised that urine marking, mounting people, stealing food, jumping-up and prolonged eye contact are all signs of dominance, for which the dog should be punished. Some ill-advised, big blue meanies are confusing issues and trying to take the fun out of dog ownership. In my book:

A dog which marks indoors, needs to be housetrained.
A dog which mounts people, a) needs to be instructed to desist and b) requires social introduction to another suitably inclined furry quadruped.
A dog which steals food, a) is in desperate need of an owner who remembers to put food away and b) requires rapid introduction to my favorite booby-trap.
A dog which jumps-up, needs simply to be taught to sit when greeting people.
A dog which is tricky about eye contact should be taught a) that human eye-contact is no threat, b) to look away, or look at its paws on command, and c) to lovingly gaze in the eyes of its understanding owner.

Certainly, we need to control dogs - but mental control is what is required, not physical domination. Even though an ill-experienced, middle-ranking dog 'handler' might be able to jerk, hang, roll-over, and/or beat a dog into submission, what is the point of winning the battle and losing the war? What possible advantage is there in converting a 'dominant' dog into a fearful one? Both are equally as worthless as companions or working dogs. Furthermore, most physical corrections are well beyond the physical and mental capabilities of all but a few dog owners. And so, why advise novice owners to enter into a physical contest that they are bound to lose? In fact, why abuse the dog at all, when it is possible to achieve the same end using brain instead of brawn? Why try to wade the Atlantic, when one could take the Concorde?

We must prescribe training methods which are effective and lie within the capabilities of the average dog owner, including women, children and the elderly. If we have learned anything at all from studying dog behavior, ... owners must establish control in a developmental context, whilst the dog is still a puppy. Rather than browbeating the dog into submission, it is far easier to convince the dog to join the team, so that it enjoys life living with us, rather than fighting against us.

Ian Dunbar Ph.D., BVetMed, MRCVS
copyright 1989 Ian Dunbar

14th September 2006, 08:04 PM
I picked up a book in the bookshop the other day. Can't remember the name but it was something like "what your dog is really trying to tell you". Anyway it had a really interesting section on this kind of stuff. It was mainly talking about biting and how dogs never, ever bite for no reason. Even if the reason isn't clear to us, it is to the dog. An interesting example I thought was of a highly trained guarddog that bit it's owner when there were intruders. Apparently that is quite common. The reason behind it is the dog telling the owner to stay back because it's actually trying to protect it.

Anyway, in terms of a 9 month old the book had a section on dogs this age and how they can begin to challenge authority. When they're a puppy they are submissive and tend to shy away from confrontation. They accept their place in the pack quite happily. When they get to 9months old and older they may start to challenge for a higher rank in the pack. This is when young dogs may be a little aggressive with children as they see children as weaker pack members and the easiest to challenge first. I can't imagine a cavalier ever doing _that_, and this was a general book, not one specific to cavaliers. However I think the cavalier might have been marking as a challenging behaviour. As for what to do, I don't have a notion! Sorry ;)

15th September 2006, 06:29 PM
Thanks for the wonderful advice! I have forwarded the thread to Lou and hopefully it will help her deal with his issues.

Karlin, I always appreciate your advice and I'm glad you're always willing to lay your cards on the table. I'm still on the fence about Cesar Millan and I think some of his methods are not appropriate for Cavaliers.

Thanks again!