Fostering a puppy - can't figure if he's being submissive, aggressive or dominant

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Barked: Fri Jan 25, '13 1:43pm PST 
I have three dogs of my own and fostering a puppy. My cocker spaniel who's the Alpha of the two doesn't go near the puppy and already nipped him and he stopped bothering her. My two lab mixes play with him and he likes to bite my chocolate/white dog on his neck and my gray dog puts him in his place and he stops and then licks the inside of my gray dogs mouth but then when my gray dog sees that he back down he'll walk away and the puppy will get up, run towards him and bump my gray dog with the side of his body and tries to mount him. His tail is always up too, I see that he's being submissive but then tries to be I guess dominant. I'm kinda confused about the way he acts because either a dog is dominant or submissive...not both. I mean I could be wrong because I never seen something like this. I do correct him in a humane way when I see him do that and he does stop. He's not toy or food aggressive either. I just want to know what I can do to train him or stop the behavior. Thank you all!

Edited by author Fri Jan 25, '13 1:45pm PST

Dr. Watson

Not a wiener- dawg!
Barked: Fri Jan 25, '13 2:00pm PST 
First, I wouldn't think in terms of dominant or submissive, as relationships in a group of dogs are always fluid. And of course this is a puppy that we are discussing here. Perhaps he is a 'bold' puppy. I certainly wouldn't call him aggressive.

How old is the puppy? It would really help to know this. What was his previous situation? Was he raised with his littermates and/or his momma? thinking

Body slamming is a typical method of play. Mounting is not a sign of dominance, it is a sign of overexcitement. Remove him from play when he does this. You also want to teach him a "Leave it!" smile
Shiver Me- Timbers- "Charlie"

My Little Dog, a- heartbeat at my- feet.<3
Barked: Fri Jan 25, '13 2:03pm PST 
Your dog isn't aggressive, submissive, OR dominant. I suggest looking into a few books: Don't Shoot The Dog by Karen Pryor is a good one, as well as, Control Unleashed - The Puppy Program by Leslie McDevitt, and I'm sure others can chime in.

Honestly, your puppy sounds like just that - A PUPPY. A rude, rambunctious and obnoxious puppy who could use the other, older dogs telling him off to teach him proper canine social etiquette and manners.

I agree completely with Dr. Watson.

Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
Barked: Fri Jan 25, '13 3:27pm PST 
" because either a dog is dominant or submissive"

Ah, well that's actually not true. This is about interchange/interplay, so he can be one with one dog, and then flip to an opposite role with the other. So it's not a "quality"....my dog is dominant with others or he is submissive....but rather that the role he is playing in the interchange takes whichever role is available to him.

So with one dog, there is all sorts of stuff he can get away with and does, but with another dog he tests that, gets told off and immediately takes that opposing role of submission for balance. Then may try to test the boundary by being vigorous, or with the exciting conflicting emotions may try to hump.

Your gray dog is more patient and may be more of a "peace keeper," meaning comes to the defense of his friend, who just won't stand up for himself, but maybe one-on-one with the puppy is more tolerant. A lot of dogs are extremely tolerant of puppies, simply because puppies are never a threat to them and they understand this.

I wouldn't worry too much. He's got some balance with one dog telling him "no way!," one who will correct when necessary, and one who is eternally patient, but if you feel it is too much bossyness from the puppy, just put him on a longline, so that you can gently pull him over to you and get him to do something focused, like a sit, and give him a treat. That usually helps get his mind off being too jazzy.

Barked: Fri Jan 25, '13 6:04pm PST 
Dr. Watson - No one knows the age of the puppy and they said his litter mates didn't make it...not sure if they were found dead or put down. And the mother wasn't around when they were found. I heard from a trainer at a local pet store saying that body slamming means "dominance" and did read up on some articles saying its a method of playing...that's why I was confused. I do appreciate your response smile

"Charlie" - I'll definitely look into reading up on some books especially about puppies...haven't had a puppy in years. So used to older dogs. Thank you for your response as well. By the way, he is a rambunctious pup.

Tiller - I was a little worried only because I do want him to go to a forever home and don't want him to go back to the shelter because of a bad behavior. Thank you for your response too! smile
Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
Barked: Fri Jan 25, '13 6:11pm PST 
Just replace the word dominant with "bossy." That's how a lot of people mean it anyway wink

I foster rescue pups a lot. Don't worry. How old is he? If he was separated from his ill fated litter too early, he's behind the bar, as littermates will teach each other what is too much. In fact, those too pushy usually end up being the ones most frequently beat up by their siblings.

So he probably has a lot of learning to do, and he's really a bit lucky to have three dogs who represent three different sorts of attitudes. I'd just let him drag a leash for when he gets too rough with the chocolate and white and try to get him to do something focused for a reward. Are you handling him? Meaning handling his feet, etc.?

You also should be playing with him as well, where you can also address if he gets too worked up.

I wouldn't worry. I've had fosters do far worse wink

Edited by author Fri Jan 25, '13 6:21pm PST


Ice cubes? YES- PLEASE!
Barked: Sat Jan 26, '13 9:12pm PST 
It just sounds like he's just being a rude, bossy little pup. Clyde was like that and got "beat up" all the time for his behavior when he played with bigger dogs. laugh out loud
Now, he's extremely polite when he plays and can appropriately play with dogs of literally any size. Just keep socializing the pup with other sympathetic dogs and he should outgrow the bossy when he matures up a bit. I found Clyde also benefited from roughousing and bitey-play with me because if he got too rough and made me hurt at all, I would immediately ignore him for 5 minutes as punishment for being too rough. Some consider those play styles as encouraging "dominance", but it only made Clyde more sensitive to other dogs' needs during play. It also gave a huge mastiff a very soft mouth, which I think is convenient. wink

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Barked: Sun Jan 27, '13 4:43pm PST 
Are there any puppy classes in your area that the rescue/shelter would pay for? That could be a huge help in teaching social etiquette.