PDA

View Full Version : Confused...



Lisa_T
1st January 2007, 10:30 PM
I am now very confused as to when to step in in any altercation with Holly and Amber.

Holly is actually very tolerant of Amber 90% of the time. She'll let Amber lick her, nibble her, lie beside her, lie on on top of her, and run off with her toys. They've started playfighting with lots of advances and retreats and play bowing and excited yipping. I've no issues with this, or with Holly putting Amber in her place if Amber is nipping/yanking etc- which admittedly happens much less now. When they've been apart for a while, Holly will run and dive and prace and twirl and try to get Amber to play with her. Especially when Amber has an attack of the wacky races. I think though that occassionally Holly has been too rough in this, and Amber can be cautious- but I've watched carefully and this behaviour is play. Holly behaves the same way she does when she wants me to play.

Then I read the very interesting article on 'He just wants to say hi!' and it's left me confused. After reading about resource guarding, and consequently rebuking Holly for snapping/diving for Amber when Holly has a 'resource' she wants, I see from the article that in some of those situations Holly's behaviour was understandable and should not be corrected.

For example, two incidents this evening.

One was on my lap. Amber was there first (I think) and Holly came up. I'm not sure whether Amber tried to pinch Holly's toy or did anything provocative, or whether Holly was simply resenting the fact that Amber was up beside me too. There was a little growling- but some of it might have been from Amber?- and Holly went to give Amber a nip on the ear but I didn't hear any yelping.

I said 'No!' and put both dogs on the floor. I *think* this was the correct response. They both need to know that they can both be on my lap/beside me (and indeed, have been so many times and gone to sleep curled around each other with no bother). Having said that, I notice they seem to have evolved a system. Usually, if Holly's on my lap first, Amber will go to the sofa, and vice versa. Tonight, now I think of it, *I* was the one who brought Holly up, so maybe I was the one who started the whole thing! Amber spent most of the afternoon on my lap (her choice) while Holly snoozed on her favourite spot on the sofa (also her choice) so...??? Do I respect this just?

The other situation is the one I recognise from the article. When Amber first came, she had a habit of pinching Holly's toys literally from under her nose. She frequently still does, but often only after she's sat and watched Holly for a while... and then slowly pinches the toy by stealth. Usually Holly lets her, mainly because she's not that bothered either way. It's funny to watch Amber being sneaky and Holly being dignified! However, when Holly is really enjoying her toy, she doesn't let Amber anywhere near it, and if Amber tries to come for it, or simply comes close enough to Holly for Holly to reasonably suspect she's up to something, Holly will often growl and give Amber a nip.

I've been thinking of this as resource guarding and have been trying to stop Holly from doing it- and they're great, they stop *immediately* at a word from me. However, from what the article says, Holly's behaviour was reasonable and understandable in canine terms- she was busy with HER toy (it was her favourite ring) in HER space, not harming anyone, and then Amber came that bit too close.. (although Amber actually seemed to be heading for me, and ignoring Holly..)- and Holly was simply warning her away. The article talked about how confused the dogs can get for being 'corrected' for this normal behaviour....

....and so I am totally confused. What do you think?

Karlin
1st January 2007, 10:53 PM
1) right on the first account -- looks like you put them into the close proximity that probably initiated the growl. Tara and Lisa say never reprimand for growling, ever -- as the alternative is for the dog to learn growling (indicating discomfort as a warning, rather than biting) is not OK -- so they risk going straight to biting. I would just have set one or the other or both on the floor but not said 'no' and kept in mind not to place them in such a situation again if it looks like it could be stressful to one or the other.

2) Keep in mind Amber is only a puppy and not really threatening Holly. And allow Holly to growl and nip in this case. Resource guarding is quite different behaviour -- she is only saying to Amber, 'It is not polite to try and steal something I want to have'. This is a good lesson for her to learn -- just as kids sometimes are tolerated when 'just playing' and sometimes reach a point where the adults say, 'enough, that is rude or annoying'.

I'd not really worry about behaviour towards a puppy. The point where you really need to start policing is as Amber approaches 6 months and sexually starts to mature. At that point their relationship may change considerably and you can get fights. Adults rarely fight with puppies. They will get into fights with another adult, especially one that is trying to challenge them and is the same sex. They are going to have to figure out who runs the house as Amber matures and it may well end up being Amber.

Lisa_T
1st January 2007, 11:03 PM
I'd not really worry about behaviour towards a puppy. The point where you really need to start policing is as Amber approaches 6 months and sexually starts to mature. At that point their relationship may change considerably and you can get fights. Adults rarely fight with puppies. They will get into fights with another adult, especially one that is trying to challenge them and is the same sex. They are going to have to figure out who runs the house as Amber matures and it may well end up being Amber.

This is why I'm more bothered about it now- Amber is now nearly five and a half months, and I'll be phoning the vet's to talk about spay arrangements tomorrow. Holly seems to have become a little less tolerant of her lately too, although not excessively so. She's been patient, but she's by no means the longest-fused dog on the planet. I'm wondering how having Amber spayed will alter these dynamics, if at all? I suppose I'm also seeing an example of bitches being uh, bitchy. I notice that there's fewer reports like this from people with male/male or male/female combinations. :lol:

luvzcavs
2nd January 2007, 01:08 AM
It is such a tricky one and I'm in a similar situation.

I personally would only step in when Amber is at risk of getting hurt. It is natural for Holly to teach her manners etc and respond with growling, nipping etc to say back off but obviously due to the difference in size Amber is vulnerable and at risk of getting hurt.

When you do step in it does not have to be to say no or to discipline but just to put some space between the two of them and therefore diffuse the situation for a moment, this may also teach Holly (as in the article, just wants to say hi) that you have her back, you see she is frustrated and you have it under control.
I hope you know what I mean. Good luck with it.