Challenging Dominance?

Roxy's CD

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#1
Lately I've noticed Roxy and Hades getting into some more "serious" fights lately. I've been very observant with their interactions together and am not quite convinced that he's challenging her "dominance" but am looking for some honest opinions.

(They have not been left alone since their last big fight which left Hades with a gash on his head, (I make it sound a lot worse than it really was, a half inch mark that only produced blood when I pushed on it with a warm cloth. My parents baby sit them if we have to go out.)

Okay so the circumstances revolving around the event, when Hades got his gash are pretty clear that it wasn't dominance. They were stuck together with their harness' on and Hades was in what me and my trainer call "terrier mode". Pupils dialated, high energy just wanting to pull, pull, pull. Roxy doesn't enjoy sledding and was the one that actually instigated the fight which ended after Roxy pinned him down and he stopped protesting within seconds.

Lately, more commonly their fights happen at the park when I have my parents dog Brutus. We play a lot of frisbee, another game that puts him into that mode. He still doesn't instigate the fights, nor does he finish them, but I guess my question is, should I break it up? (Roxy doesn't play frisbee, just Hades)

They always end in the same manner with Hades on his back, and Roxy holding him there. They seem like they go on forever, but in reality they probably last about 10 seconds. Just long enough for Roxy to take him down.

Roxy hasn't suffered any scars/scrapes and the only time Hades did was in the above described time which was probably 2 months or more ago.

Why all of sudden is Roxy doing this?

It's pretty clear that Hades isn't starting the fights, could Roxy just be annoyed with him?

When we play frisbee, often enough he slams into her, or they jostle for position, Roxy usually loses. Is it possible that she's annoyed? He never nips at her, bites her or tries to take her down and submit her.

I guess to be a little more clear, Roxy usually instigates these fights, when either I or my bf have the frisbee. Roxy usually hangs around us, sniffing or waiting her turn to fetch the stick. Hades will return with the frisbee and as we're getting ready to throw it again, he jumps around all excited and that's when Roxy starts the fight.

Should I be correcting Roxy?

Should I be working on Hades, keeping him calm?

So far I've just been letting Roxy start/finish the fights because they haven't caused any serious damage either than the little scab on his head. But lately I've been leaning towards her just being annoyed and I've been contemplating reprimading her verbally...

Any ideas?
 
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#4
Personally, I would not allow Roxy to do that. The longer you let that go on, the more control she will feel she has. If she starts it, just walkup to her and put her back on leash. Don't say anything, just let her know you are in charge of the fun and if she wants to act up, she can go back on lead.

Even though Hades is putting up with it now, there may come a time where he has had enough and when that happens they may not be able to be around each other period. You are his guardian, he is relying on you to keep him safe, if he feels you are no longer keeping him safe he will take it into his own paws.
 

Roxy's CD

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#5
OutlineACD's- I agree, but than comes the grey area, for Roxy's defence.

Hades does tend to get a bit excited. He accidentally bumps her and for being such a sissy dog he does play rough and I don't think he realizes sometimes when he bumps into her how hard it really was.

Should I also be correcting her Hades, or calming him then when he annoys Roxy?

I mean, if I'm going to stop Roxy from "dominating" Hades, how should I be correcting Hades for bothering Roxy if that makes any sense?
 
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#6
You should work with Hades seprately on some ground rules for play. Take him out somewhere and take his frisbee. When you see that wild-eyed look don't throw the frisbee for him. Wait until you can see him calm down. Even if that means you have to walk 20 minutes before he stops being frantic. Reward for calm behavior. You can use a clicker for this.

Another suggestion:

Get a reliable "lie down" on him, and if he gets too rambunctious, give him his lie down cue and if he doesn't obey you can take him out of the game and play with Roxy for a few minutes.


You say that Roxy is not actually chasing the frisbee. What is she doing? I'm just trying to get a little bit clearer picture :)
 

Roxy's CD

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#7
Okay, rewarding the calm behaviour, makes sense, and I introduced the clicker a week or so ago and he really seems to be taking to it.

I'll definitely give it a try once the weather clears up, thanks a lot of the idea!

His down is reliable until chasing the frisbee/stick comes into play. Especially when he's in that mode. He might not chase it totally, but he does get up and it annoys Roxy even more than her play is interrupted by Hades. LOL. If he's pretty rambunctious I usually leash him and he calms down.

Roxy is waiting politely for her turn to fetch the stick when Hades starts jumping around and bumping into her waiting for his frisbee to be thrown. :)
 

Doberluv

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#8
I recommend you get the book Click to Calm, by Emma Parsons. You can learn how to condition your dogs through positive reinforcement to not only tolerate more from other "rude" dogs, but also to learn calming signals on cue and more appropriate behavior as far as dog to dog language. Some dogs just don't know "dog." LOL.
 

Roxy's CD

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#9
But you don't think it's particularly, Hades "challenging" ROxy right?

That's my main concern. I'm pretty sure if I made it clear these scuffles weren't allowed they wouldn't happen.

I've just been letting them continue because of the whole "let them work it out".

I'm waiting to hear back from our local bookstore if they can order it for me, it's not something they keep in stock. I'd asked about it a week ago when I first got my clicker to see if there were any methods that I could use with Roxy.

So I am trying to figure it out, it's just if this is something I should worry about, due to Hades breed, I'd rather know now than later! LOL
 
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#10
But you don't think it's particularly, Hades "challenging" ROxy right?

That's my main concern. I'm pretty sure if I made it clear these scuffles weren't allowed they wouldn't happen.

I've just been letting them continue because of the whole "let them work it out".

I'm waiting to hear back from our local bookstore if they can order it for me, it's not something they keep in stock. I'd asked about it a week ago when I first got my clicker to see if there were any methods that I could use with Roxy.

So I am trying to figure it out, it's just if this is something I should worry about, due to Hades breed, I'd rather know now than later! LOL
To answer your question, yes and no. lol I do not think Hades is trying to challenge her as much as I think he's just excited and not looking where hes going. He probably doesn't have much body awareness either. Not exactly his fault. Should he be watching where he is going a little better? Yeah.

Haven't you had aggression issues with Roxy in the past? Like her growling when told to get off the couch? This is why I put a lot of the focus on Roxy just being bossy. Sure, he's probably running into her and it can hurt, but dogs play rough, and my dogs can take a lot of hits from each other that would just make me cringe.

If Roxy is waiting in a downstay for you to throw her stick then why is she getting up to jump on Hades? If you have to, leave her in her downstay and walk a few feet away so Hades isn't close to her and then throw the frisbee. Then you can release and reward with the stick. :)
 

Roxy's CD

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#11
Yep, we had issues with Roxy, but we've changed a lot about our life with the dogs to ensure that she knows her place and knows what's acceptable and what isn't.

I guess I've made it seem like "dominating" Hades is acceptable because I let it go on in my presence.

I guess I've made it confusing. Roxy isn't in a downstay because she doesn't chase his frisbee. She doesn't like the frisbee, just the stick. So I don't put her in a down stay, just Hades. Roxy just hangs around, 3 or 4 feet away waiting for her turn.

I know the hits your talking about that make me cringe too! LOL Most of the time when their tugging or just running about neither "complain". I suppose it's because Roxy's up and ready to go to as opposed to when she's calmly waiting her turn.

Thanks for the reply Outline ACD's.

I think my first steps are to calm Hades down and minimize the trouble he causes Roxy as well as if I can't, and she does get annoyed to either stop the fights, or distract her and reward before she even starts.

Using the clicker for identifying/shaping the calming behaviours will probably take a bit more time, something I'll do on the side, but I'll do the above right away to stop the fights from happening at all.

Thanks again :)
 

sam

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#12
It's hard to really get a feel for what's happening without seeing it and knowing the dogs.

It may be that Hades is being rude and Roxy is getting fed up and correcting him harshly. It's not polite to body slam someone and dogs have as much sense of what's an ok way to behave as we do.

I wouldn't leave it to the dogs to "work things out" To my way of thinking, it's my house, my rules, everyone defers to me so there's not room for or need for any dominance displays. I'll decide what polite play behavior is and I don't tolerate bullying, fights or rudeness.

I'm going to sound like a broken record and Suzanne Clothier superfan, but have you read her article about rudeness called "he just wants to say hi!" ?
http://www.flyingdogpress.com/sayhi.html

It's a great read and might give you some insight to help decide what you think.

If you think Hades is being rude, you should intervene at the verey beginning of that, well before it turns into an altercation. I would not wait for Roxy to tell him off. It's the leader's job - and it's not fair to Roxy to leave it to her and doing so tells her not only that she can't count on you but it can cause her to become defensively aggressive towards Hades. It sounds like he is continuing the behaviors she is telling him off over, so her correction isn't working. I wouldn't call that him challenging for dominance then, I would call that bullying and being a jerk-- not traits of a good alpha/leader/dominant dog.

I would work hard on preventing altercations by teaching Hades a rock solid "settle" cue and having him settle for a few minutes when he gets revved up. I would also just avoid/prevent circumstances that you know will cause a blow out. Will the dogs immediately stop what they're doing if you tell them to knock it off ? If you can't get the dogs to knock it off during an altercation, I wold work on elevating myself and do the attitude adjusmnet program- also on Suzanne Clothiers site. I think that might do alot to restore some harmony.
There are some circumstances where two adult dogs just can't live harmoniously and safely together and things can seem to get uglier when the younger dog reaches 18-24 months. Then it's a lifetime of management and keeping dogs separate- total PIA. I hope that isn't what's happening here!
 

Roxy's CD

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#13
In the house when they get into scuffles all it takes is for me to show interest/displeasure by standing up and giving the "eye", in heated situations a sharp "HEY!" will get them to stop, and they both usually go back to their respective corners and immediately lie down, ears back, puppy dog eyes glancing at me when I'm not looking.

I could see it being a little bit harder at the park obviously, because it's plenty more fun to romp around at the park, but I'm pretty sure a tap on Roxy's shoulder, not a smack, more or less a physical touch to get her attention would stop her if a verbal command didn't work.

It happens the same pretty much everytime so I don't think it'll be hard to avoid altogether and work on a cue word for calm with Hades on the side.

I guess I kind of understand the point about making Roxy defending herself, is allowing her to think she's in charge.

It's funny because in most circumstances I have the same attitude, my house, my rules, my toys, my food etc. I don't know why I've let this continue.

I guess as I said before I let the old "let'em work it out on their own" phrase go on too long.

I seriously *doubt* (of course I can't say for sure) that they're not going to get along and have to be separated for life. It's in those specific circumstances I mentioned that this happens, and even still Hades doesn't fight back. He immediately submits to her. I could see if Hades wasn't submitting, that would be a huge issue, but he never puts up a fight.

Thanks for reply, it's starting to be even more clear that I shouldn't be allowing this to happen.
 

jess2416

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#14
I'm going to sound like a broken record and Suzanne Clothier superfan, but have you read her article about rudeness called "he just wants to say hi!" ?
http://www.flyingdogpress.com/sayhi.html

It's a great read and might give you some insight to help decide what you think.
Thanks for posting that....I need to read it when I get a chance to really sit down and read...
 
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#15
I seriously *doubt* (of course I can't say for sure) that they're not going to get along and have to be separated for life. It's in those specific circumstances I mentioned that this happens, and even still Hades doesn't fight back. He immediately submits to her. I could see if Hades wasn't submitting, that would be a huge issue, but he never puts up a fight.

Thanks for reply, it's starting to be even more clear that I shouldn't be allowing this to happen.
The reason I was so adamant about not allowing this to happen is that I am in the predicament now. I have an older alpha female and a younger (5 yr old) female. They have always gotten along well. I would always let them 'work it out' because they might scuffle three times a year. It only lasted 3-5 seconds. Carrie always ended up on the ground apologizing. Until 3 months ago. Now both dogs must be kept separated and they are both on strict training plans with hopes of getting our houshold back together.

Sorry if I came across as harsh, but now that I look back, there were plenty of opportunitues on my part to have stopped rude behavior etc etc. So I'm just trying to give you a friendly heads-up :) It can happen, even when the dogs are best of friends.
 

Roxy's CD

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#16
Nope, I didn't see it as harsh :)

I was kind of figuring that if it was a correction on Roxy's part it wasn't working because it's been happening so frequently lately, hence why I was on the fence about letting them work it out or stopping it.

I guess I let it go on as well because no one was getting seriously injured, but now that I look back it's not really an excuse.

I'll see tomorrow when we head out to the park if they do, and if so, if I can avoid the whole situation :)
 
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