Do big dogs really not see little dogs as "dogs?"

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

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Czarka, CGC- UJJ

Why walk when- you can run?
Barked: Thu Aug 23, '12 5:01pm PST 
Dog is dog. Site, scent, and communication/posture all tell Charks what she is dealing with. Right now she's in a group daycare/boarding facility... with a mix of other well-socialized dogs ranging in size from big to small. Works quite well. And it is obvious all dogs are speaking the same language wink

As far as I can tell, dogs are aware of their size. Among the well behaved, a small dog will chastise a bigger dog for not watching where they are putting their feet... and the larger dog will adjust interaction to accommodate the smaller.

Less well behaved? On walks, Charka is very good about fearlessly holding position laugh out loud so the owner of the off-leash/escaped micro-terror can be retrieved by their owner. The most humorous (to me) situations are when the small dog owner is worried about retrieving their snarling beastie because it is next to my big wolffish, and totally calm, dog thinking Go figure.

Spooky Mulder
Barked: Thu Aug 23, '12 9:53pm PST 
I think there are a lot of things that factor here, and prey drive keeps getting brought up.

There's a lot more to these situations than JUST prey drive alone.

A Lab has a lot of prey drive. But what he doesn't necessarily have is a lot of drive to catch and kill. Sure its linked, but its different. Chasing and killing are different things that intersect down one line that we call "prey drive", but are not mutually inclusive.

Many sighthounds still have strong ties to catching quarry, and that of course goes back to the very purpose those breeds served. Hounds in general seem to have this mentality, as many WERE breed to actually catch and kill live game (even if it is not commonplace anymore, such as with coon hunting).

Where as you have Lab or a Golden, who's job was to RETRIEVE already dead game. Gotta have a lot of hunt drive to run out and get it, but there's no "kill switch" (if you will) that goes off in the dogs head that triggers the dog to fight and kill what its caught. IE, you might be more likely to see a Grey grab a small dog and shake/kill it as a prey response, vs a Golden who may run down the dog, and perhaps kill it accidentally by stepping on it or nipping it, but did not kill it for the sake of it being prey. Though of course, in those situations, I supposed it doesn't matter much... a dog is still dead either way.

I think with some breeds also, like Shepherds or other protection breeds, you run into a similar scenario though coming from a different place. Something may start out as prey, but quickly descend into a battle for control. Remember, keeping control of a target is also something deeply ingrained in those dogs, and shaking or mauling a small dog once captured may not necessarily be a prey response, so much as resistance that has been offered by the smaller dog, and is then being met by the offending dog.

Gunna get \'em!
Barked: Fri Aug 24, '12 3:12pm PST 
I was humbly reminded today that my dogs are just that. Dogs.

Reminded that they have prey drives that aren't necessarily going to be squelched.

Today, a cat got stuck in our empty chicken coup. I have no idea where it came from, but it was anything but friendly.

While playing fetch I noticed Paisley and Gunner staring into the coup, barking and whining. I went to the gate to see what was hiding and a cat jumped up, scared of me. The coup is enclosed, pretty much impossible to get into unless you open the door.

Gunner and Paisley threw themselves at the wire, Paisley do much as ripped open her nose in an attempt to get at the kitty.

They have "cats" at home that they respect. They "know" cats. But in that moment they didn't see a cat as a cat. I ushered them in the house where they (okay, I physically picked Gunner up and hauled him in) where the first thing he did was see our cat. A cat they KNOW. A cat he has snuggled with!

Prey drive hot from the stray, he took off after our cat. I noticed him realize that she wasn't prey from outside, but it was hard for him to make that switch.

I'm not saying Gunner would do that with a small dog (I don't think so), but it was a serious lesson in prey drive. A major *switch* was flipped.

Sanka- I'll Miss- You

The ground is my- newspaper.
Barked: Fri Aug 24, '12 6:51pm PST 
I don't know about that Gunner....many dog aggressive dogs do fine with dogs they live with but go nuts with unfamiliar dogs. They most certainly would know those other dogs are still dogs. I think your dogs knew it was a cat....just a different cat.

I also think the cat's reaction may have been the main thing feeding the dogs' reaction. Kato chases cats a plenty, but he tucks tail at a cat that stands its ground in confidence. Confidence being the key word. Backed in a corner hissing and slapping most certainly can cause dogs to go nuts. Same as when a scuffle breaks out in the dog park and other dogs jump in.

dog-sitter in- charge.
Barked: Fri Aug 24, '12 9:19pm PST 
right, sanka. actually i think selectivity (or prey drive) is extremely poorly measured based on the other dog or dogs (or other animals) living in the same house....

Cave canis- vigilo omnis
Barked: Fri Aug 24, '12 9:30pm PST 
I agree that relationships between pets in the same household aren't a reliable indicator of their attitude toward the same type of animal outside of their circle.

Cave canis- vigilo omnis
Barked: Fri Aug 24, '12 9:57pm PST 
Shoot - too late to edit...

I also think Mulder is getting closer to the mark... An animal that behaves like prey to a dog *becomes* prey to the dog, even if it's another dog. The fast movements, panicked vocalizations, 'fear' pheromones would all contribute to this, IMO.

Member Since
Barked: Sat Aug 25, '12 3:07am PST 
I think they see little dogs as small toys.. smile
Addy, CGC

Let's go for a- walk!
Barked: Sat Aug 25, '12 5:14am PST 
Created an account just to make a "funny" remark about small dogs not being real, Member since 8/24/12? Really?

Barked: Sat Aug 25, '12 5:51am PST 
Juneau is potentially dangerous around smaller dogs. She will obsess over them, drool on their backs, nip and bite, chase, etc. She does not do this with any other dogs but small ones. It is to me, predatory behavior, and I generally do not allow her to interact with very small dogs. She has tried to attack a couple smaller dogs (aggressive ones that charged and attacked first) but if she is introduced to them correctly, she will generally treat them like other dogs unless they screech or do something prey-like. She is not a really big dog, she's 50 pounds.
Juneau is a Border Collie/Labrador Retriever mix, and has an immensely huge prey-drive. I'm not talking retrieving drive (which is huge as well), I mean chase-bite-kill drive. She's killed a couple animals, mostly snakes, but I think she is capable of killing a small dog. She is not an aggressive dog, she gets along fine with other well-behaved dogs. She actually goes out of her way to avoid confrontational dogs and will hardly ever react to another dog shoving her around. I do not think there is anything wrong with her mentally or otherwise.

Edited by author Sat Aug 25, '12 5:53am PST

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