Luuuciii, you- have some- 'splainin to do
|Barked: Sat Dec 4, '10 4:48am PST |
|So we've had Luci for a little over a year (adopted, she is about 5 years old), she is believed to be a Shih Tzu, about 11 lbs, and a diva to boot.
Within the last month we adopted PJ, a 4 year old male Shih Tzu/Pekingese mix, he is around 15 lbs (but he's fat, so he's not a lot bigger than her - or he wont be for long! He will lose weight to a healthy size soon enough...).
Anyway, Luci is overall quite good at "tolerating" him and accepting him in the home. About 95% of the time, anyway. I don't believe she's ever been properly socialized, she barks like crazy if she sees another dog (not aggressively, just loudly), and when we originally introduced her to a friend's Lhasa Apso who tried to play with her, she looked almost confused by the general "play" moves dogs make (leaning on the front paws with their butt up in the air and wagging the tail, for example). After a few tries she finally reciprocated and it was like a flip was switched - she copied the other dog's behavior and almost as if she suddenly understood - they started chasing each other around the yard and were playing what almost looked like "tag", and finished by plopping down together to sunbathe. She now tries those same "moves" with PJ - but if he tries any other play-like moves, she gives him that same blank stare she gave the other dog before she seemed to figure out what it was, like she doesn't understand it.
She also doesn't like to be alone for even 20 minutes (it just so happened someone in the house was with her for the first 6-8 months after we adopted her, but recently found a job so she is alone during parts of the day now). So after a few months we decided it would be a good idea to adopt a second dog. We decided on "trial" periods with a couple of dogs before finding PJ. He came from a home where he had a German Shepard to play with, so he is obviously used to being around a bigger dog, which probably means he's used to playing a little differently.
So the first week or two, Luci would try to use her "tricks" learned by our friend's Lhasa to try to get PJ to play, but he was pretty sullen for awhile. When he finally started to settle in he would try to play back, they're still adjusting to trying to figure out how to play together. They have different playing styles. He plays rougher (German Shepard type play, not little dog play), but she doesn't. We've been observing them and trying to just let them find what works for them.
Now, to my question. Overall, Luci is pretty good with him. However there has been 4 times now where she has jumped on his back and with her mouth she grabs hold of his neck scruff and growls. Reading up a little, it seems this has to do with her trying to show him she is the dominant one? 3 of the 4 times were when he was outside going potty, and would come back to the sliding glass door and paw at the door to tell us he wanted inside. Luci doesn't paw at the door, she usually sits and just waits. Now, I don't know if she had been scolded as a puppy for pawing at the door, or what, but if PJ does it - she does not seem to like it. She jumps on his back and growls and grabs the scruff of his neck and just holds him there growling lightly. She isn't biting to draw blood but she clamps down enough to pinch the fur I guess? His neck has been left with wet spots, I assume from her saliva, but I haven't even found as much as a red/irritated spot from where she had been grabbing him. It seems to me as if she is almost trying to scold him for doing something she thinks is "bad"?? Like I said, she isn't being aggressive as in vicious/biting to draw blood or anything like that. I have seen her fight one dog once, this was prior to us realizing she had probably not been socialized whatsoever, and our neighbor tried to bring her small dog over, and we found out that Luci was apparently very territorial. She lunged at the dog and barrels over her, tumbles and scuffles, snarling and barking, nipping at the dog all over (not nasty biting, just nipping, it was odd). It was very different than how she's acting with PJ, so it doesn't seem like she's trying to really attack him in that way. We have since made sure to introduce her to other dogs on more of a neutral area, instead of just surprising her in her living room, and it's worked out well, we haven't had any problems since with "meet and greets".
The fourth time was actually earlier today, it was a little different scenario. She has remarkable hearing (she once woke up at 3am and started making all kinds of noise, barking to wake everyone up, we all come out trying to figure out what was going on, only to find two coyotes in our front yard. She was in a back room where she didn't have the ability to see them, and when she was barking up a storm, she was running to the front door as if she was telling us someone was at the front door). Well, today she was in the kitchen with me and sniffing around, she nears the dishwasher and suddenly starts acting very weird. Runs to the back door and starts whining to be let out (she isn't a whiner), so I let her out and she runs to the wall on the outside of the house on the same area where our dishwasher was, running back and forth between two of the crawlspace/holes that go under our house. We determined she must have heard a mouse after finding a hole chewed in a box under our sink. For at least an hour she was pacing around the house, inside and out, keeping her head low to the ground as if she was trying to track where it was going. Very focused on it - oblivious to her surroundings. PJ joins in and starts following her around, but it seems like he takes it as playtime, so he starts jumping around her trying to get her to play. She doesn't even notice him. Then he jumps on her. She suddenly starts growling/barking/yipping (kind of an all-in-one thing, the most aggressive noises I'd heard come from her towards him), and she again jumps on his back and grabs his neck, but this time she seemed to be pushing along the ground with her back legs while her front half was still leaning on him and she was still holding the scruff of his neck, kind of like she was trying to move him or push him?? She was growling louder this time, like she was pissed at him and scolding him loudly or something. I don't know how else to describe it. It wasn't the typical growl that tells you a dog is going to attack, it was more like she was giving him what for or telling him off by growl???
She seems to get in these hyperfocused states sometimes where she is completely oblivious to her surroundings and it can sometimes take awhile to get her attention away and focused on something else, even her favorite treats. So when he jumped on her, I get the feeling she reacted more aggressively than she would have, had she not been sniffing out a mouse. Because minutes later, almost like when she snapped out of her focus, she went over to him and rubbed noses with him and sniffed him all over, like she was checking on him. She's never done that before with him. She does it with my nephew when he cries (he is 1), she comes over and sniffs him all over like she wants to find out if he is okay. It was a similar behavior.
Other than that she has been almost perfect with accepting him. No problems with food (which surprises me - she loves her treats - and we haven't had any issues with that, I thought she might be protective of them). They even curl up by each other on their blanket or the bedding. Their food bowls are close, no food aggression; no problems with the dog toys - she seems to like to share with him. He loves tug of war, she's never cared for it, but when we played tug of war with him she suddenly seemed interested and tried to play with him by grabbing part of the toy and tugging back and forth with him.
Sorry for the insanely long post but I'm not fully understanding what's going on here? I get the idea it may be "pack" related but what is "ok" and what isn't when it comes to her proving her "dominance" with him? I understand she has never had a companion dog, or any real interaction with dogs, and she is overall a very good dog so I am a little baffled by her behavior.
What can I do to stop the behavior without throwing off the "pack" balance? He seems perfectly content with being the submissive one. I just don't want to cause more problems than I help by figuring out and stopping the behavior. I am also wondering if "solidifying" her spot somehow might stop any possible anxiety or frustration she has that's making her do that? I wouldn't have a clue how to go about that.
Also, crate training isn't a current option, as she does not go for it. I don't know her history but it seems she must have had a bad experience along the line with crate training. She acts like you're beating her if you try to put her in it. Crying, whining, and tries to run from it - like she's afraid of it. I don't have a clue why, because everywhere else she is so not a "scaredy" type personality - quite the opposite. So there would need to be extensive training for the crate itself before I could even use that as an option, and I would rather tackle this issue between the two of them first.
Edited by author Sat Dec 4, '10 5:05am PST
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