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KatM 04-04-2014 04:02 PM

Input on New GSD's behavior toward small dog
Hi - I'm a newbie so please forgive any etiquette faux pas or ignorance on my part. I wanted to get people's input on our situation.

We have an 8 pound chihuahua yorkie mix. We also HAD a large shepherd/lab mix. They were great friends and she considered him her protector, I think. They were totally safe and happy alone together, though I realize that every dog is different and I'm not making any assumptions with the new one. She really loved that dog. Only him, though. She barks at other dogs and shows what I assume is fear aggression toward them. Sadly, we had to put the big one to sleep a couple of months ago.

Yesterday, we adopted a 3 year old GSD from the pound. He's been at the pound for over a month with not much exercise - he had a broken toe (still healing, though he's not limping), and just got neutered yesterday, so major exercise is not in his very near future, unfortunately. He's very sweet to people, and fairly nice to the little one, but he seems overly interested in our little dog at times. It makes me nervous. Of course, I will use extreme caution, not leave them alone, etc, but I'm wondering if someone here can give me insight into his behavior.

Specifically, when the little one is in our arms or on the couch next to us, he still wants to see/meet her, but he's not really hyper about it (by the way, he's a bit hyper in general and I don't blame him for his lack of exercise). To my great surprise, last night, my little one approached the big one (who we've had on leash in the house), and kissed his nose. He licked her face as well. I have let him approach her a couple of times and though she's scared, it leads to them licking each other's faces briefly. I try to keep it short at this point because his energy is too strong and I don't trust it. When she is on the ground or generally loose in the house, he really wants "at her" and I can't tell if it's play or prey. When he's too aggressive like that, she nips at him (unsuccessfully, no harm done except the unpleasantness of the encounter).

We've had long periods of peace and coexistence, where they're both sleeping (GSD on his bed on the floor and little one on the couch). It's just that when they do interact, the intent is unclear.

Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks!

KatM 04-04-2014 05:03 PM

The more I read, the more I think this is prey drive, which is bad news for us. Do I give up before disaster strikes or is there hope? I would like for them to get along, of course. Otherwise, there's little point in having two (though each has its own good points). I thought perhaps a new pack member would help us all, but now I'm not sure. Then again, it's been less than 24 hours, so I'm probably being a bit neurotic. Oh, what to do...

martemchik 04-04-2014 05:17 PM

21 Attachment(s)
It's not prey drive. Dogs will very rarely enter prey drive towards another dog...

If the small dog squeals and starts to run, you might see the larger dog enter prey mode. But otherwise, he has probably not been taught how to meet other dogs the right way...or at least the way you want him to meet other dogs.

Both dogs are going to need some time to feel each other out. YOU need to set their boundaries right now and not let it go too far. I'd be careful about holding the small dog in front of the large can lead to issues. Let them be on "equal footing" so to say. I wouldn't let either one do anything the other one isn't allowed to do. And maybe for a few weeks, limit both of their freedoms so that they understand who is really in charge. So...don't allow either one on the couch and things of that nature.

Of course, do not allow the larger dog to do anything to scare or possibly hurt the little dog. But you should really watch the larger dog for signs that the little one might be the one instigating...

Jakesworld 04-04-2014 05:29 PM

Hi welcome KatM ! So I too have a chiuahua and a 80+ lb, 8+ month old GSD, Jake. They play together and hang out. Sometimes I have to remind Jake to be "easy", which is why I taught him bite inhibition (not to mention, it helped with his "land shark" puppy phase) My mom's friend's chiuahua had a leg snapped while playing with a big dog. Our shihtzu, Toby is still intact. (But not for long), he's starting to challenge Jake, since Jake is maturing. Jake mostly avoids Toby when he's acting like a Billy-Butthead. Sometimes the body language is very suttle, But it's there. And I'm here to redirect and put a stop to it. Toby will be visiting the vet ASAP to get snipped. I'd like to keep Jake intact for at least a few years til he's done growing. The dogs are all under constant supervision while I'm home. So no, I would NEVER leave Jake alone with any of our dogs. It's too easy for him to pop their little heads with one bite. Be it accidentally or deliberately .

Maybe let them just get to know each other slowly, on their terms. If it seems aggressive, stop them. Seperate for a bit. The licking is probably submissive behavior. Just don't leave them alone while they're getting to know each other, even for a few minutes. Sometimes it just takes time for them to get used to each other. But you definitely don't want him chasing her, since they are a high prey drive breed.

Maybe there's a behaviorist out there that can give you more specific information. I'm just going off experience with my dogs.

KatM 04-04-2014 05:46 PM

Thanks for the input. I will definitely have to see how it goes over the next few days/weeks. I hate the thought of NEVER being able to leave them alone together. Maybe my expectations/wishes are too high after our last big dog, but he kind of babysat her for us. In the cooler months, we could take them both in the car when we went places, windows rolled down, and we would not be worried about her being stolen. Plus, when we leave the house, we'd like him to eventually have free reign so he can guard the house (one of the great side benefits of having a large dog). I guess it is what it is, for now anyway.

Chip18 04-04-2014 05:55 PM

That first thread in post # 8 helps you build a bond with the new dog. That bond is very important to make it clear to him what the house rules are! Very important right now he's just gone from a small kennel to a larger one, the four walls of your house.

The other stuff helps with training and staying away from other dogs helps avoid "issues" that he can bring home and unleash on a house mate!

Two or More Dogs

No free for all with the front door! Which dog goes out the door first is very important to the dogs! A member here pointed that out, I think that was "my" problem..I kinda did a release and it was every dog for himself...that did not work out to well in the long run!:eek:

More questions just ask. :)

Kaimeju 04-04-2014 06:42 PM

Licking behavior is definitely not prey drive. He's likely curious about this new member of his family. To me their interactions read as peaceful, although you are correct in keeping interactions short because they can escalate when one or more of the dogs is tense or over-aroused. After you've had him for several months it will probably become really obvious what their relationship will be like.

Our behaviorist gave us a great tip about recognizing predatory behavior: predators don't waste any energy. They don't mess around. They move in a way that minimizes the amount of effort they expend and the amount of noise/warning they make. So if there is a lot of bouncy, silly behavior then it is play not prey.

I have a dog that exhibits prey drive towards small dogs, but she lives peacefully with our cat. To me, the behavior you describe seems very similar to how she interacts with our cat, which has been very safe. She will sometimes stare at the cat and bound towards her, but it's obvious she isn't moving as fast as she could be. We just don't leave them alone outside together and they are fine. However, it has been crucial to watch them closely and give them time apart if they get in a tiff. The dog resource guards sometimes and the cat will occasionally be a jerk and "attack" the dog. So try not to worry too much and if a situation doesn't seem safe to you, just separate them for a while.

KatM 04-06-2014 04:42 PM

Update - in case anyone cares. And forgive me for the train of thought writing here...

We are making progress. We have let the big guy (GSD) get to the little one several times and basically just sniffs and licks her. I made it a point to sit on the floor with both of them very close together (little one on my lap - I know it's not standard protocol, but it's a start). He managed to calm down after some working with him. He did approach her a few times and there was much face licking on both of their parts.

Then, we went for a walk all together and there was good progress from our attempt at group walking yesterday. Little one didn't bark at all (yesterday, she barked the whole time). Though the GSD kept wanting to turn around and approach her (overzealously), I was able to redirect him to walking over and over (and over) again until he finally wasn't quite as adamant about it. Incidentally, he walks very well when it's just the two of us. He is really starting to respect my and my husband's authority.

Also, we left them both in the house twice (her in a cage, him free), for several hours and there was no incident (we came home and peaked through the window and saw them both sleeping). The GSD did not mess up anything in the house (other than knocking the pillows off the couch, but if that's the worst of it, I'm fine with that).

Overall, I'm feeling better about the whole thing and not afraid (though still wise and cautious) about him attacking her. I am getting to know him and sense that he is a very sweet natured dog, though he may never be great around small dogs he doesn't know. As long as we can get him to integrate with the little one in our pack, I'll be happy with that as a fine start to his life with us. We can fine tune later.

Thanks to everyone for your input - I read all the threads and articles and will take the advice to heart.

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