When do dog to dog corrections become bullying type behaviours?

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Miss- Pig!
Barked: Sun Jan 27, '13 5:32pm PST 
All the recent discussions on dog to dog corrections got me thinking back to when Missy was a puppy. Very early on, during puppy parties at the local vet surgery, she was more "in your face". She would often play with a JRT puppy, but play between them quickly became more of a scuffle than anything where neither puppy would separate and they were trying to latch on and making lots of noise. It went beyond normal puppy playing to me and it did concern me at the time. She and the JRT puppy did receive quite a few time outs when they got that OTT. Missy also cornered the newer pups to the group and wouldn't "allow" them to move. They would make a break for it and she would block them or run at them and kind of pin them down. I think this behaviour in her eyes was an extension of play. She was getting really riled up about having them to herself so to speak. She used to do this to our cat too. Anyway, fast forward to when she finally could get out on actual walks. We still knew the JRT puppy and they actually got better at interacting over the coming weeks. We also knew three very friendly and tolerant adult dogs. But we also knew a Lab bitch who would constantly it seems, be correcting Missy. She would pin her down and kind of growl/snarl in Missy's face. Then we met a few more dogs that all kind of corrected Missy. At one point we was having more run ins with dogs acting negatively towards Missy than we was positive encounters. The only dogs that seemed to be able to tolerate Missy were the three adult dogs we had known from the beginning. All this came to a head when Missy ran over to a JRT that we knew of previously, and this JRT snapped at Missy and kind of pinned her down and Missy just went right back at her until both dogs were fighting! Was really awful because the young toddler walking with the JRT family was knocked over in the midst of the scuffle and both myself and the JRT owner had not anticipated the suddenness of the scuffle so were kind of panicked and shouting at the dogs. Anyway, Missy has never been the same since and her DA issues started from then on basically. I wish i had caught it earlier as i'd maybe have been able to channel it differently and/or have nipped it in the bud, but i didn't really understand her behaviour back then.

But i guess my question is, why did the corrections she received from the adult dogs not seem to have taught her appropriate communication skills? Is it a case of the adult dogs not correcting her sufficiently? The Lab bitch i mentioned corrected Missy on nearly ever encounter we had with her! Missy would get up, dust herself down and get on with the walk. But these corrections didn't stop her from making the same mistakes next time around ( in the eyes of the Lab anyway ) because like i said, she corrected her a number of times over a period of months. Both myself and the Lab owner rarely intervened in these interactions. I didn't really know any better and the Lab owner never seemed concerned so i didn't think there was any reason to intervene. But looking back i do wonder if the corrections she received were having a negative build up in her mind on her views towards other dogs. Were the corrections to much? More verging on bullying? Meaning when the JRT snapped, being smaller, Missy thought she'd give as good as she got?

Woo-woo- whineybutt
Barked: Sun Jan 27, '13 6:04pm PST 
Missy, how I see it is that usually when dogs get corrected too much, they begin to anticipate the correction and then try to.. uhm, beat the other dog to the punch?

For example, Nare loves other dogs, he loves playing with them and being in a pack-like setting.
However, on too many occasions a strange/unfamiliar dog will get in his face and posture, Nare was also a rambunctious puppy and didn't take the warnings so he would get corrected.
Now when strange dogs approach or get in his face, you can see him be confused.. He doesn't know if the dog is going to be friendly or is going to hurt him. He would never hurt another dog intentionally.. But he will raise his hackles and do 'air snaps' as a bluff. If the other dog takes offense to that he melts anyways, he just wants to be friends, but I think he is also sick of dogs bullying him ?

TBH i blame the dog park. confused atleast that is where the majority of this has happened.

Miss- Pig!
Barked: Sun Jan 27, '13 6:17pm PST 
Yeah Nare that's kinda how i see it too. I believe now that the reaction to the JRT was a case of releasing that pent up frustration she had been building up from her encounters with the Lab.

Ty was never corrected as a puppy. I can't actually remember one instance where he was thinking but he was a respectful and laid back puppy anyway. However, as he's aged he will stand up for himself when confronted or corrected, nothing major but he'll bark back or sometimes run after the other dog half heartily. We don't have Dogparks but i avoid large pack walks and/or enclosed areas with lots of dogs milling about, because of the potential for trouble between so many dogs together.

Edited by author Sun Jan 27, '13 6:20pm PST


Member Since
Barked: Tue Jan 29, '13 8:10pm PST 
This is why I don't let dogs correct other dogs, generally. I encourage communication like lip licks, yawning, avoidance, and stuff like that but I don't leave it up to dog to get physical. I break it up before it gets to that point. A good time out for everybody to calm down is usually what I find is needed. Ignore stress signals and you don't get to play anymore rather than letting the victim potentially hurt the other dog and a fight ensuing.

I don't like those free for all puppy classes where one puppy is relentlessly beating up on the other puppies either. I feel that it's the trainer's job to step in and stop that. What else are they being paid for if they're just sitting there doing nothing?

I really want communication to be learned, not violence. Mediation through non-violent methods is reflected in dogs who learn these skills. They often avoid violence all of their own free will and are less likely to engage in fights and when they feel they have no other choice, it's mostly bluffing with LOUD snarls and teeth grazing.

Member Since
Barked: Wed Jan 30, '13 7:50pm PST 
'This is why I don't let dogs correct other dogs, generally. I encourage communication like lip licks, yawning, avoidance, and stuff like that but I don't leave it up to dog to get physical.'

I don't think you can pick and choose - you either let dogs be dogs or you intervene, and create neurosis. Of course the use of common sense is, I hope, apparent to everyone - you don't let things escalate to a fight - but normal dog to dog communication? Interfere with that, and you will inhibit normal dog/dog interaction.

'I don't like those free for all puppy classes where one puppy is relentlessly beating up on the other puppies either.'

Of course not - this is where common sense comes in.

'I really want communication to be learned, not violence. Mediation through non-violent methods is reflected in dogs who learn these skills'.

Ummmm.....I think that pretty serious research into both nature and anthropomorphizing is called for here.
Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
Barked: Wed Jan 30, '13 11:28pm PST 
Puppy litters have their share of brassy bullies, too. Adult corrections, flares of temper as they get a little older. Puppies who are raised in optimum settings where they get to see all shades tend to cope best with things that are all shades. Puppy time to me is the time for tons of exposure, as they are so more resilient. Once a dog is "cooked," you get a lot more of the "the world is not supposed to work that way!" type reactions and some degree of fracture from that.

In terms of you, Missy, I think the thing that no one really wants to hear, amidst all these (correct) chants of the importance of socialization, normalization and so on, is that the time spent with the litter is the most important time a puppy will have. They are a lot like toddlers then. You may learn a lot in school, sure, but the amount of learning through younger ages is far more impressive, dynamic, etc. The difference between a four and sixteen week old puppy is a vast mountain compared to four to eight months. In addition to this, the puppy is in this peak learning stage in the safest bosom he will ever know, with mom and littermates, so there is an underpinning of senses of security and belonging.

I don't muck around with it. I only take four month old puppies with the litter held together through that time. They get lots rougher and tougher with each other then and are so more well adapted. My case is a bit extreme, but twelve weeks to me should be the new normal. My rescue mirrors this....I refuse to adopt out anything less than twelve weeks, with fourteen my optimum. I'd go to the sixteen, but then I'd lose my mind laugh out loud They are just nuts by then wink

At any rate, best guess on Missy, particularly with the early behavior you described, is that she got to be a bossy pants in her litter and didn't get enough correction. With that, her fate may have been somewhat sealed. That's a lot like Chester, who was a learning pup for me, for sure. I was so cautious about bringing a small, soft breed into my fold, it was one of the few times I didn't surrender myself to a breeder's discretion because "only" I could understand the intricacies of bringing a little Cocker puppy into my pack of Giant Schnauzer and rather drive-y GSD.

So I walk in, and there is Chester, on top of some hapless puppy's head, chewing it. And that was it! I had found my ideal puppy! "Bold" enough for the German boys, I felt. Well, wrong. laugh out loud

He was such a little brazen potato and my marvelous large dogs had not an idea what to do with him he was so small. So they just shouldered his bossing tolerantly. At first I thought great, Ches would stay the confident little dog he was. I got more concerned as time went on with no corrections. Really wanted them to tar Chester, who was getting more and more plucky, but no. He grew up to have so much confidence that he had quite a great long run. He'd roughhouse with Pit Fosters, play with everyone, and because he always entered the scene with "king pooch" attitude, although he could be pushy, it was always tolerated. He was never corrected, he never corrected anyone either....he was just the bold one. Had a good five or six year run before a Boxer foster gave him a wallop, and that threw him for a terrible loop and shattered his trust in the world. He really hasn't a clue how to manage himself socially, now that there is this new, rude fact.

I could work with him and have. If I were another person, I would say "great success" as he is far better with other dogs, trustworthy nose to nose and so on. But he won't play anymore. He doesn't want to go there. He doesn't understand that world anymore. It died on the day he was savaged and could not understand why.

Contrasting Tiller, and Giants are a handful and prone to DA. Kept with his litter to four months, got corrected plenty. He got attacked as a teenager, and walked out of it without one emotional scar. He knew ranges of normal and could process that as an unusual circumstance, for all the times before he was properly corrected by another dog. And he was a nutso teenager then. Worst time for it to happen, but it didn't really matter. It was stupid, he thought so, and just left it behind.

That's the difference.

Miss- Pig!
Barked: Thu Jan 31, '13 9:07am PST 
Yeah, in all honesty the puppy parties and classes were not the best set up. I was told Missy would grow out of the bossy and pushy play behaviour and i believed that at the time.

I got her when she was 8 weeks old Tiller, and we was told she was the most confident in the litter. I got Ty at 10 weeks and the difference between them both was like night and day. I definitely agree that bringing a puppy home later is in their favour! New pup will be a week off of 4 months when he arrives having lived with his breeder and their adult dogs/visiting dogs all his life. I'm hoping that will make him confident and well rounded with other dogs by the time he reaches me.

I don't know what corrections she received in her litter but like i said, she received enough once we got out and about walking.

Member Since
Barked: Fri Feb 1, '13 5:46pm PST 
"Ummmm.....I think that pretty serious research into both nature and anthropomorphizing is called for here."

No. This is personal experience speaking here with my own dogs, my fostered dogs, and my training clients' dogs. As well as with the other trainers I often consult with and do shop talk with. The dogs will almost always use communication and if it fails, they'll seek out the humans to intervene rather than resorting to a possible fight. Which is JUST the way most people would want it.

As I said, YES, I want dogs to learn communication. But NO, I do not want dogs to be forced to resort to violence to protect themselves. YES, you CAN pick and choose. Letting dogs physically correct each other often leads to fights because they learn that they have no choice but to use violence because the humans won't bother to do anything about the escalating situation. We're the humans here. We don't need to let our dogs "sort it all out however they may".

Whether you agree is up to you and not of my concern. I was responding to the OP.

Q.E.D., baby,- Q.E.D.!
Barked: Fri Feb 1, '13 8:18pm PST 
"'I really want communication to be learned, not violence. Mediation through non-violent methods is reflected in dogs who learn these skills'. "

Do you believe that dogs learn to function outside their nature as animals? Do you think they learn mediation skills and resolve things in non-violent methods? Maybe I'm just perplexed by the way this is worded, but I think this whole concept is counter to Nature herself. Of course I'm not advocating that you allow things to get crazy out of hand where someone gets hurt, but otherwise, I believe that the other Guest has it pretty much nailed as far as animal behavior.

When the night- closes in I will- be there
Barked: Fri Feb 1, '13 10:34pm PST 
Ok here is what I see. Generally I don't have single puppies to raise. I get litters, or at least part of a litter. I usually keep them to about 10-12 weeks. Shadow was a singleton. Sabi raised her well, I can't fault that, but she had no puppies to play with just my stepdaughter. I now have a dog that I swear thinks she is human. And it causes serious issues!
If you remove the ability of dogs to be dogs, what else would you like them to be?
Anyone who thinks to teach dogs to be non violent needs to take a good look around. Nature is violent, all creatures are violent. Humans are the only ones who take it to extremes, and conversly the only ones who see it as wrong.
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