A week ago Rocky (7 month old GSD, not neutered) got introduced to my other two dogs, Lady and Max (1.5 years old, GSD and Aussie mix, fixed). Here's an update and some questions.
Here's the pack:
From left to right: Rocky, Max and Lady.
And here's Rocky:
Rocky got weighted today and came in at 91 lbs. He is big, strong and wants to play. The other two are now tolerating him in play for anywhere from one to five minutes. Than hair goes up on their backs and if I don't control things it turns into more of a brawl than anything else. No hard bites, squealing or anything like that.
Rocky seems to want to mess with Lady the most. Almost as soon as I let them out into the yard he'll go over to her and play-bite the top of her neck. She seems interested in playing but he just seems to be too rough for her. She actually pulled a muscle on her right front leg and is limping, which has created a bit more of a hair trigger on tolerating Rocky.
I know they've only known each other for a week but I am a little frustrated. There is no way I can let the three be in the yard without supervision. To some extent both Lady and Max are a bit scared of Rocky. For example, if he is laying on the floor in front of the TV while we are sitting on the couch both Lady and Max are hesitant about coming over to the front of the couch and generally walking near him. I don't really know how to handle this aspect of things.
Eating is another source of frustration. Lady and Max always ate together and out of the same bowl. With Rocky's introduction they are hesitant to go over to the bowl when he is eating. I got a much larger bowl (guessing 1.5 ft diameter) so that there's plenty of room for all to feed. I realize this might take time. I just don't want Rocky to bully the other two and for Lady and Max to be fearful of him. I don't see him as being aggressive, I just see it as him being a huge puppy who wants to rough-house and the other two are smaller and older and just don't care for that.
Yesterday I decided to feed them in the yard rather than inside. I brought the bowl out. Had all three sit-stay and not touch any food until I allowed it. I then hand fed all three of them. They were all laying in front of the bowl being fed and I kept the peace. I did this in the morning and in the evening and it worked well.
I've been walking Rocky a couple of miles a day in the early morning. As soon as we come home I let him go out in the back with Lady and Max, always with me supervising and controlling the "volume" of the interaction. I usually have to stop and down-stay all of them every five or ten minutes in order to keep things from escalating. Today I decided to walk him out to the back on leach. With this I was able to give him a correction as soon as he went for Lady. This got things under control right away but, of course, isn't allowing any play to speak of.
Any thoughts on controlling and improving their relationship? In the house they are great. They lay around and rest, often inches from each other and sometimes even touching each other. The conflicts are always in the backyard.
The other issue is that Rocky is mouthy. Boy does he like to communicate with his teeth. No clamping down at all. So, I'll say he has a very soft mouth --which is good-- but, frankly, I'm getting tired of it fast. Yelping only works part of the time. Sometimes it gets him more excited. "No" also works, sometimes. I've seen suggestions about carrying around a toy to offer-up when the nipping happens. My situation is that I've removed all toys from the house and the yard in order to prevent conflict between the dogs. If I now introduce a toy for Rocky it could create conflict. How should I handle this?
He is super-social with people. Total strangers walking down the street, at Home Depot, the vet even friends and family visiting. He is also great with doggie encounters. He doesn't get exited and doesn't pull on the leash. He just wants to meet them and whines.
I am going to visit the local Schutzhund club meeting on Sunday and see what develops.
Looking for continuing advice on both the pack relationship and nipping aspects.