When do dog to dog corrections become bullying type behaviours?

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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Member Since
Barked: Sat Feb 2, '13 1:06pm PST 
"Still addressing the violence issues. I too, use verbal interruptors, which I don't think makes me a violent person. And the mildest of all with my timid dog -- isn't teaching 'leave it' an interruptor after all? thinking

....He has excellent dog manners. One hump onto him, and there was a loud growl, 2 air snaps, and he wasn't humped again. I don't consider that a violent correction. I don't consider that there is a more peaceful solution to this. This is a dog's solution, a solution effective in the world of dogs. Of course any more than this, and you break it up.

This has nothing to do with positive training, clicker training, marker training, drive training, balanced training, etc. It's common sense if you believe in social learning in dogs."

applause Yes, Rollo, I agree wholeheartedly! It has nothing to do with training styles, only to do with nature and the ways dogs communicate!

I love sitting- in laps
Barked: Sat Feb 2, '13 1:14pm PST 
If corrections regularly led to dog fights, Moose would have had dozens of tussles by now.
Moose is corrected many times on our outings and only twice has he been over corrected to where I and the owner of the other dog had to step in. Moose was on the run while the other dog way over corrected.
Stepping in when a correction goes overboard is very appropriate, but when it's just a growl or an air snap, interjecting isn't letting the pup learn from those he's interacting from.
When Moose plays with me, I have my rules. When he plays with dogs, they have their rules.
They have a whole social language all their own that has worked really well for them for a long while now. When we start muddying up their language, that's where problems will occur.

Moose is a bully to other puppies and I step in almost every single time. I don't like it and because of his size, it's scary. But, if I see that a puppy isn't going to take it and air snaps at Moose, I give it a little more time to see what Moose is going to learn from the other pup. Usually he learns that the pup ain't gonna fall for Moose's huffing and puffing and instead of pinning the pup, Moose either leaves the pup alone or they play chase.
If I interjected on every one of those, Moose wouldn't learn that the other dogs aren't as weak as he thinks.

Code name:- Farmcollie
Barked: Sat Feb 2, '13 2:23pm PST 
I personally think it is difficult to make generalizations about dog/dog communications, because when you come right down to it what you are dealing with is a conversations between two individuals. Each comes with their own personality and communication style. Some dogs tend to speak in a whisper while others launch into soaring arias.

My Chandler is usually subtle in his communication. I describe his temperament as a combination of "surfer dude" and "that TV sheriff that the entire town loves". He's not looking for trouble. He'd rather party and have fun. However, if he thinks something wrong is happening around him, he'll do something about it.

Here is an example of Chandler and another dog saying the exact same thing in two different ways.
"Shove off, buddy!" Chandler style.

"Shove off, buddy!" Dandy style.

Chan whispers. Dandy speaks in arias. Both communications were received and respected.

However, if the communications had not been respected the dog communicating would have had the choice of snarking (and maybe starting a fight) or retreating (and maybe being pursued). What happens after that is anyone's guess. Dandy would probably be more likely to snark. His owner says he is very dog-selective and doesn't like other dogs up in his face.

Chan usually first attempts avoidance, but if pushed he will snark. He's generally a "nice guy". A lot of timid dogs like him because he'll give them space and won't try to push them around just to prove that he can. I can count on one hand the times he's wrinkled his snout up into a snarl at another dog outside of play. Both times, I believe that kind of communication was his only option. It escalated into air snaps and snarking on the last occasion, but I can't blame him there, because his communications were being ignored and he was on leash. (I removed him from the situation...herding dogs do tend to find a greeting of being punched in the face with a paw and repeated attempts to wrestle and put paws over their shoulders unforgivably RUDE in the first 30 seconds of an initial meeting.)

Edited by author Sat Feb 2, '13 2:31pm PST


Member Since
Barked: Sat Feb 2, '13 2:31pm PST 
Thank you, Chandler for the pictorial demonstrations...

Code name:- Farmcollie
Barked: Sat Feb 2, '13 2:55pm PST 
"But believe me or not, they exist. Peaceful dogs are out there. Dogs who find new solutions to things because trying new things is encouraged,"

Guest, could you please give some examples of how your dog(s) have reacted in different situations? This statement is a bit vague and I'm wondering how this works, as I see interactions as a dialog.

Miss- Pig!
Barked: Sat Feb 2, '13 4:03pm PST 
Wow, this thread really took off!

I get alot what is being said here. But, just taking the situation i was explaining as an example, what is "normal" dog to dog corrections? When is an appropriate time to step in? Should i have stepped in when this Lab bitch was correcting Missy? I guess it's hard to sometimes read when enough is enough. Missy very obviously didn't learn from her corrections and IMO the corrections now, looking back, seemed OTT. I thought i was doing the right thing in allowing Missy to have these interactions with other dogs, but like i said i do wonder whether these interactions she had were having a negative impact on her rather than a beneficial impact and teaching her good manners.

I never thought of the corrections as violent though...at all. Intense, yes. But i never feared it would result in an attack from the Lab or anything.

Thanks Rusty for the compliments too!

Edited by author Sat Feb 2, '13 4:04pm PST

Sanka- I'll Miss- You

The ground is my- newspaper.
Barked: Sat Feb 2, '13 4:21pm PST 
I don't really see dog to dog corrections on the same level as human to dog corrections.

If my tone gets on the stern side with Kato, he either goes belly up or hides. He's a bit sensitive to that. But when corrected by other dogs? Heck no. He gets the message and moves on. No problem.

Correct my other dog, Sanka? Yeah, he doesn't really care what I have to say. But if another dog tells him off, he gets it quite clearly. He doesn't go by that dog again.

And yes, what is violent when it comes to dogs? Dogs are TOUGH. Seriously, watch them play with each other. Hard to believe they're having such a good time when they really get going.

Is this body slam violent?

How about this video of Kato knocking a puppy down quite often during play?

Sanka gets corrected here. No problem and moves on. Heck, Sanka got bit on the nose the other day when a GSD got tangled in the long line and got scared when Sanka got too close. Again, no problem. They happily walked down the trail together.

Knowing how to take a correction is far more important than knowing how to give one. That is a great dog to me. Accidents happen, and even a great-minded dog can get corrected.

I've only seen one case where I actually would call it a bit bullying. That's with my 2 cousins' dogs. The black lab, Junior, just doesn't like the goldendoodle Tobie, and regularly goes out of his way to keep Tobie from doing every little thing. Playing, going through the door, drinking out of the water, laying on the bed. A dog shouldn't get corrected for these things, yet Junior does it to Tobie. That's too much. That's not good social interaction. And it eventually did lead up to a fight. Not right away. No, many weeks later of tolerating each other until Tobie reached his boiling point and gave some sass back.

Where a dog's boiling point is depends on the dog.

Edited by author Sat Feb 2, '13 4:23pm PST


Code name:- Farmcollie
Barked: Sat Feb 2, '13 4:49pm PST 
Missy- as usual, I think the answer to your original question would be: it depends.

I have a friend who had a dog that thought flattening and terrorizing any dogs not part of her family was a fun sport. If the lab was that type of dog, yes, I'd say that was a problem. If Missy was acting out and bothering the lab, I'd be less concerned. One thing you did say that does concern me is that Missy was not "getting" the communication...now whether that is because she's a terrier and they tend to be tough and scrappy, or whether because the lab was just randomly beating her up, I can't say.

Corrections also don't have to be violent. Here's another photo set with Chandler, note the eye contact between Chan and Dandy in the second photo. That was the only communication that was necessary.

Dandy is playing, but he sounded and looked REALLY fierce. That's Chan's head with his left ear standing up in the bottom right corner.

Sheriff Chandler says "I don't know how you do things up in MA, but this is my town and you need to play nice with your sister." Dandy says "Um...ok, Sir!"

About 15 seconds later Chan has completed his flyby correction and has circled back. He says "Yes, I know I just told you off for being too intense, but I'm really Mr. Fun! We should all play chase instead!"

Miss- Pig!
Barked: Sat Feb 2, '13 5:10pm PST 
All those look to be reasonable and acceptable forms of communication, Chandler.

I'm certainly not of the belief that intervening in minor corrections is needed. I said it in another thread, but Ty has corrected his VERY boisterous friend Molly a few times. Mostly when she runs full speed at him, knocking him for six and resulting in him sprawling across the ground. He jumps back up and snaps/barks at her clearly and loudly and she immediately backs off. Molly's owner and myself are both ok with this as we know the correction was warranted and seen as we're helping Molly learn better communication skills, Ty is doing the job we signed up for. However, i can also tell when Ty has had enough and he's trying his best to avoid Molly. He'll come by my legs, jump up on a bench or try to outrun her. I can tell that he really doesn't want to correct her again and is looking to me to help him when he's standing between my legs! So in those situations, rather than making Ty feel forced into having to deal with it all himself, i step in.

As for Missy, that's why i included the background info about her behaviour as a very young puppy. Was she not able to learn from the Lab because she was naturally inclined to be more pushy, bullyish and less open to corrections. Or, was the Lab just being a bully too and not teaching any worthwhile lesson? The Lab corrected Missy on many occasions over a period of months, never escalated the correction, but if Missy was learning it never seemed to change the Lab's view on her. And then the incident with the JRT just topped it all off really.

Edited by author Sat Feb 2, '13 5:10pm PST

Sawyer- *ADOPTED*

Shy Boy
Barked: Sat Feb 2, '13 7:25pm PST 
I think "normal" depends on the dog. Risa is pretty subtle in her suggestions unless she is overly stressed by the interaction. Like Chandler said, some dogs communicate loudly and others less so. I think what is important is not what it looks or sounds like but how it is perceived by the other dog. If a subtle suggestion is repeatedly ignored by the other dog and you can see it getting close to escalating, you should step in. If the one dog does a loud snark and the other dog backs off and reassess his play style, then I would say the interaction is fine. It's more about how the two dogs interact and communicate with each other rather than their method for telling another to "back off." It's when one of the parties doesn't listen to the other that problems occur.

(And thanks for calling Mr. Sawyer cute. smile Fortunately, Risa and he get along pretty well and have similar play styles. Unlike our former foster Jagger who was a bit more into body slamming than Risa liked. Though she was surprisingly tolerant of it. I often had to step in, though, as it was clear she wasn't really enjoying herself.)
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