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Old 12-15-2012, 11:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
Ziltoid
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Default Should I intervene in puppy play?

Hi all,

I have 2 German Shepherds; a 10 month old female named Heidi and a 13 week old male named Zakk.

Heidi has always been a really gentle, friendly pup and absolutely adores Zakk. Zakk obviously loves her too and spends most of his time with her.

My question is around their rumbles. Zakk seems to get a bit fired up at times and I'm not sure whether I should be stepping in or letting them sort it out themselves (have been doing this so far). Heidi plays nice and will lie down and let him climb on top, the problem is that when he gets on top he seems to change a bit - his nose crinkles up and he sounds quite savage... well as savage as a 13 week old pup can He obviously can't really damage her yet and when he does hurt her with the needles he calls teeth, she just stands up which knocks him over and continues on with the game. He does get a bit rough at times when he is not on top trying to pin her down too. It seems that if she gets a bit much for him, rather than yelping and stepping away like most puppies, he fires up and attempts to hurt her back - she would never deliberately hurt him but is over twice his size so accidents happen.

I was expecting her to correct him... basically tell him off for playing too rough. I have had multiple dogs before (always a female first and male second) and in previous cases the female has always told the pup what's allowed and what isn't. Maybe I got him while she was still a bit too young to take on this role?... either way it's a bit late to change that now.

Right from the start he would steal treats from her, and try to take over her food bowl when he had finished his dinner (she let him). I did step in here and now he knows that he has to wait until she has also finished eating before he can go and lick her bowl. Occasionally he will still grab a treat from her but when I take it back off him, he accepts that and just eats his own.

I'm in 2 minds about the play though.

1.) I ignore it and let them sort it out - Heidi needs to learn to either end the game or tell him off when things get too rough. I'm not always going to be here to do something about it due to work, so she needs to take control. Even if she was putting him in his place now, Zakk will eventually be top dog... he's going to be bigger and her personality is definitely more wanting to be a pack member than leader... so do I just let him take top position now?

2.) I pull him off and correct him. He's getting towards the age where he'll be going to the dog park in a few weeks and I don't want to see him trying this type of play with dogs he doesn't know. I am also a little concerned that if this keeps up the way it is going, he will hurt her when he gets bigger.

I don't think he is an evil puppy, he just doesn't realise that he shouldn't be playing at the level he is. At puppy preschool he was quiet for the most part, kept by me for the first couple of weeks and just watched the other dogs play without getting involved himself. He did come out of his shell in the last couple of lessons and was fine with all the other puppies.. bar one; a cattle dog that had been going round humping all the other pups each week. Zakk seemed to realise he was bigger so everytime he saw that going on, he would head over and knock the cattle dog over and hump him... which even the cattle dogs owners found amusing to watch.

Anyway, just figured I'd ask if anyone had suggestions on the best way to deal with it? Or am I just worrying about nothing? It's been a long time since I had 2 puppies so maybe I just don't remember the other males getting this feisty. If I should be correcting it, I'd rather start now than later.
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