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Thread: Social dominance and hand biting - corollation? Reply to Thread
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  Topic Review (Newest First)
01-01-2013 05:00 PM
Jag Lilie- I found your post helpful to me, too! I hadn't thought about that as a way to get a pup's attention. Was wondering how I'm going to get the attention of this ball of energy during class!

Kyleigh- beautiful story! It's a beautiful thing to witness... one dog helping another! I'll bet things got much better for Olive after this interaction!

Thorny- your pup is absolutely gorgeous! Hope to see many more pics of him.
01-01-2013 03:14 PM
Kyleigh At this young age, I don't believe you're going to see much "alphaness" in your pup! I'm not saying your pup's not an alpha, personally, I think it's too soon to tell. Confident? Over the top? Hyper? Active? Demanding? Sure ... all of these, and all of these can be normal, depending on the line of your dog. l

My last dog was an alpha female, and she was a thing of beauty to watch interact with other dogs. BUT, she wasn't like that as a puppy ... she was just that as a puppy - a ball of fur, four long legs and tail and floppy ears. By the time she was two and a half (socially / mentally mature) her "alphaness" blossomed.

A true "alpha" (I personally prefer the term leader) never shows aggression EVER, towards another dog. Abby used to mediate dogs at the dog park. She'd simply stand there and watch them play, and if she noticed that the "level" was getting a bit too much, she'd simply walk over and insert herself between the two dogs. No growling, no lip curl, nothing but her physical presence. Guess what ... the dogs calmed down INSTANTLY.

Here's another story about "a true alpha" ... it's a long one ...

I got an email from a friend who needed help with her dog, Olive. She adopted Olive from the Humane Society and was told that Olive was 3 years old, and a rottie-mix. I went over to her house and met her dog - such a great dog, lots of fun and full of life.

A couple of weeks later I get an email – Olive had turned into a terror at the off leash dog park. Apparently, she was “attacking” the other dogs. Most people were helpful, but after repeated “attacks” she was asked to keep her dog away from their dogs.

After consulting with my roommate (at the time), we agreed to have Olive come by and see what the hoopla was all about. When I met Olive, I had certainly not witnessed any displays of aggression or dominance … however, I hadn’t seen her interact with other dogs.
We were also babysitting another dog, so we kept the other dogs in the house and gave Olive about 10 minutes to scope out the backyard and learn who lived there. I have to admit, I was hesitant to have Abby meet her first … if Olive really did attack, I wasn’t sure what would transpire between her and Abby. The last thing I wanted was a REAL dog fight and not some snapping of jaws and growling. My friend had to leave to run some errands, so off she went while my roommate and I prepared for introductions.

We decided to let the big goofy Bernese come out first. As soon as Jo came out, Olive came running up **** bent for leather and jumped right in his face. Jo backed up a bit, let out a low growl and moved away. Undeterred, Olive continued her overenthusiastic jumping and pouncing greeting. Jo NEVER growls. This dog has the patience of a saint, and the most relaxed temperament I have ever seen on ANY dog. Every time Olive jumped in his face, he growled, and backed off. When she pounced on him, he growled and moved away. After about 5-7 minutes, she got the hint and started playing with him in normal “doggie fashion.” Play bows, barking, running in circles, and simply having fun. Fifteen minutes later her interest waned, and she started checking out the yard again.

Now it was time for Abby to come out and greet the newcomer. At this stage, I wasn’t worried about Olive being aggressive (she is so NOT aggressive!) however, I was concerned that if she greeted Abby in the same fashion, she might not understand the correction that Abby would make. I needn’t have worried at all. We let Abby out and Olive came running up 90 miles an hour, to see the new dog. As soon as she was within about a foot of Abby’s presence, she dropped and rolled on her back!

Oh yeah, this is one AGGRESSIVE ROTTIE … hold back your dogs people …Olive’s going to eat you!!! Needless to say my roommate and I were stunned. Abby stood beside Olive and let Olive smell her. Then Abby nudged Olive to stand up (which she did) and then Abby proceeded to sniff her. They had a wonderful, slow and CALM “get to know each other” session. It was the most beautiful event to watch.
We let the three dogs run around and play for about 15 minutes before we brought out the next dog, and then the next one. For about 45 minutes the five dogs had an absolute field day.

Olive displayed NO aggression at all … what we did learn was that Olive was a SOCIAL MORON … she simply had NO CLUE how to meet and greet other dogs. And when she came face-to-face with a balanced and well socialized alpha, she knew exactly what to do.

Then we decided to let out the last dog (he was the last one because he displays some inappropriate behaviours – growling, lip curling, attempting to dominate other dogs. He is very respectful of Abby – she’s corrected him in the past, but we weren’t sure how he’d react with Olive.)

It did not go well, at all. My roommate called Olive over and we let out the last dog. He ran around sniffing the other dogs, and then we let Olive go. They came up to each other, it was just the two of them within a 3-4 foot radius and I see his lip curl, and BAM he’s on her. On the plus side, he weighs about 12 pounds … on the even bigger plus side … Abby came flying over to help my roommate and I. She did a great job … we got the little dog out of the way and Abby went over to Olive and stood beside her.

We waited about 5 minutes, and then let them go again. NOPE. As soon as the little dog came near Olive, he went after her like a bat out of ****. Same result. Thank you again to Abby for helping us out!

We decided to try it one more time. It didn’t work. He went after her harder than he had the first two times. This time, all the dogs were hyped up. It took about 15 seconds to get the other dogs out of the way, (thankfully, they are trained, and do listen!) while Abby was busy getting the little dog under control. She was herding him out of our way, and away from Olive.

Poor Olive was in shock … she had no idea what she’d done wrong (nothing) and was sitting on the ground shaking, head hung low, ears down, and eyes downcast. We knew we needed to get her out of the state as soon as possible.

We put the little dog back in the house, and then we watched a miracle unfold.

Abby went up to Olive and licked her ear (we found out after that she’d got her ear caught in a dog’s mouth – just a little scratch, nothing serious). Then Abby licked under her chin, Olive’s head rose up. Abby then circled around Olive, giving her lots of “licks” around her ears, her snout, and under her chin. Olive stood up and started walking, Abby walked beside her. Abby’s tail started to wag, and she was still “encouraging” Olive to move with her. Suddenly, Olive’s stubby tail starts a slow wag, and then over the course of the next 30 seconds, her whole body position changes. Her tail starts to wag faster and faster, her head comes up, neck is up, ears perk up, and she’s now PRANCING around the backyard. The other two dogs come over to see what is happening and WHAMO, Jo, the big Berner gets her going, and they are off.

While I was watching this miracle unfold, I had tears in my eyes. My roommate and I both knew that Olive needed to be reassured that she hadn’t done anything wrong, before we had a chance to move in and get her moving, Abby did what she was born to do … lead, guide, heal, teach, interrupt, encourage and love.

So that's my definition of alpha, leader of dogs, whatever you want to call it. Your puppy could very well be an alpha, but like I said earlier, I think it is way too soon to even think about those types of behaviours coming from your puppy! He's got some growing and maturing to do first!!!

It's also very important for people to recognize the difference between a dog that's a born "alpha / leader" and a dog that is a dominant PITA ... a lot of people (I'm not aiming this at you, OP, just a general comment) think that ANY dominant dog is an alpha ... this is so not true, and can certainly lead to the owners letting the dog get away with bloody murder b/c they think their dog is a leader.

On a final note, your puppy is freaking adorable!!!! I love that first pic with him half off the ground!
01-01-2013 02:56 PM
Thorny Thanks for the constructive help in this thread. I really appreciate it.
01-01-2013 01:33 PM
Stosh Check out some of the Michael Ellis videos [some are free to watch] on He has several on how to get your pup/dog to focus on you. Very cute pup you have there!!
01-01-2013 01:02 PM
Originally Posted by Thorny View Post

With smaller dogs he climbs on top of them, nips at necks and chases.
Inside the dog park but away from the other dogs he will sniff the bushes while I walk away then play catch up. He will come when I call, chase and return balls, but he has zero recall if playing with other puppy's.
Remember he is a baby. He has the attention span of a knat. Reward for the baby steps. Don't expect perfection...not for a long time.

This is where you need to get smart. Find something that really, really turns him on. Might be a high value food treat, chicken, hot dog, cheese etc. Might be a high value toy, maybe a squeaky ball or a Kong toy. Something that causes your pup to give you full attention. Let that be your secret weapon. Use it to your advantage. Don't over use it, so your pup gets bored with it.

You can even try making strange noises with your mouth. When your pup comes to investigate, REWARD! Every time your pup focuses on your REWARD! Sit in your home, make a noise, when your pup comes to you, REWARD! Then take it outside and try with added distractions. Throw a reward party for the itty bitty reactions that you want your pup to make. Make a fool out of your self it that helps.

You have to be clever and figure out how to push the buttons on your pup. Read, learn. You can never have enough 'tools' in your training tool box. Figure out what works for your pup.
01-01-2013 10:10 AM
Originally Posted by Thorny View Post
You are probably right Jag, my breeder likley got it wrong. Does Grimm poop potpourri too. I can do without your advice in my threads.
I don't know your breeder, so I can't really say. GRIM is not perfect, if that's what you're implying. If you don't want advice, don't post. IMO, pegging your pup as something before you've seen the behaviors is a bad idea. NO pup should be reacting to people like that. Alpha, beta, whatever.. it doesn't matter. FYI, I told my breeder I did NOT want the alpha out of the litter. So don't go assuming that I think alpha's are all that. I do think that you're a little confused on what alpha behavior is, though. It's not aggression, it's a calm assertion that doesn't require aggression. The confidence level is where they don't come and hide because another dog is bigger. Trust me, you do NOT want an alpha.
01-01-2013 10:08 AM
doggiedad this is a forum. people don't have to agree with you. there's a
lot of well trained and highly socialized dogs here. the dogs
became that way because of knowledgeable people. dominance
and alpha are overrated. people mistake dominance and alpha
for a lack of control as in the picture of your dog at the end
of the leash. instead of having the dog at your side you let
him pull to the end of the leash. that's not dominance that's you
not controlling your dog. when it comes to advice you need a lot
of it. i hope you follow it so you can have a well trained, highly
socialized dog.

the way you described your dog playing sounds like normal
play. when your dog gains more confidence he'll stop
running between your legs.

Originally Posted by Thorny View Post

You are probably right Jag, my breeder likley got it wrong. Does Grimm poop potpourri too. I can do without your advice in my threads.
01-01-2013 10:04 AM
Originally Posted by Jag View Post
I haven't seen a true alpha react with aggression towards people, nor have I seen one run and hide behind a person if a bigger dog engages with them. A true alpha has more control than that with people. It sounds like your dog is blowing you off because you've allow the dog to blow you off. Exercise the dog before classes to get some of the energy out. Socialize with only stable dogs that can show your pup stable behaviors.
Originally Posted by Thorny View Post
You are probably right Jag, my breeder likley got it wrong. Does Grimm poop potpourri too. I can do without your advice in my threads.
Well, I don't know why. What Jag posted is correct and the advice he gave is good.
01-01-2013 09:30 AM
doggiedad nice looking pup. you have to teach him how
to meet and greet. with training and socializing
your pup is going to be fine. i think a dog should
be able to be approached from any angle and
touched anywhere by a stranger and not react.
when my dog was a pup i made sure he was petted
all over his body by strangers and approached from all angles.
01-01-2013 01:38 AM
mchcthrn Maybe a front clip harness to help the puppy learn to turn around and focus on you instead of a standard back clip? We use a Freedom harness by Wiggles, Wags, and Whiskers on both of our dogs and it works great!
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