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Discussion Starter #1
Ok, I've been meaning to ask this question for a while, but just really decided to find out some answers since we are finally seriously discussing adding a puppy to our pack.

[Quick background - BF's dad has been living with us for a while since he's separating from his wife. He has 2 dogs who came with him - Betty (2 yo, spayed Malinois mix. High energy and AMAZING ball drive) and Biscuit (~4 years, neutered male Border collie mix. Low energy and VERY submissive. He's the low man on the totem pole and likes it there.). Betty and Dieter are pretty well matched in terms of dominance/submission. Dieter is at the top of the doggie chain. It was his house before they got there and will be his house once they leave. Betty is in the middle. She is above Biscuit, but just a smidge below Dieter. They get along well - wrestle, run around and ignore each other. Betty was raised with Biscuit since she was 8 weeks old and is very gentle with him. Biscuit is at the bottom of the pack. All in all, he likes it there and is happy as long as someone is petting him. Problem is that Biscuit is the one that Dieter has started picking on and Biscuit has started these low, little growls to let everyone know when he's had enough]

Here's the story - i don't think Dieter doesn't know how to play with other dogs. The only way he seems to know how to play is with dominance asserting-type moves. I know that pups need to work their own hierarchy out (they know we're at the top, so I'm not worried about our little pack working itself out), but I'm worried that Dieter won't be able to play with other more assertive dogs because they won't put up with his dominance shenanigans.

Example behaviors:
- Tries to keep laying his head and neck over the neck of other dogs he's playing with (this is what I'm most worried about...this could cause a serious fight if he tried to do that to the wrong dog)

- Butts in when I'm playing with the other pups and tries to body block them away from me.

- When I throw the ball, if someone else grabs it first, he will circle and bark until they drop the ball and move away. Then he's not interested in it

- He's the first one down the basement steps on our way to the garage, but he will stand at the bottom of the steps and bark at the other 2 dogs as they come down. He stops when I call him though. Sometimes does the the same thing in reverse when we come back inside.

He's very good in the house, doesn't mind sharing toys, all 3 dogs eat together, side by side, at the same time, etc. and I want to let them work it out, but when is it too much? When does it cross the line between a little dominance play and outright bullying? I refuse to put any of my animals in a situation where they will get into a fight, but I want to let them be dogs!

Help!

Thanks!
 

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It sounds to me like it IS bullying already. And it is up to YOU to make Deiter leave Biscuit alone. My guess is that if you don't start makeing Deiter leave Biscuit alone, there will be a fight shortly since Biscuit it trying to get Deiter to leave him alone by growling and it apparently isn't working. Either Deiter will get tired of someone below him in the "pecking order" being disrespectfull by growling, or Biscuit will get tired of being harassed and lash out at Deiter. If this happens, it also wouldn't be surprising if Betty joins in and goes after Biscuit since he is "low man" on the totem pole.

How old is Deiter? Is he neutered? No offense, but he sounds like a young "brat" that NEEDS to have some boundries set my the HUMANS.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yup, I think you are right. I waffle between letting things work themselves out and stepping in. Time to start taking a more active role!

Dieter is about 4 years old and neutered.

When ever I hear Biscuit growl, I immediately separate the 2. Dieter gets a strong "Leave him alone" and then he does. I want Biscuit to know that he is right to warn D to leave him alone if it's outside his comfort zone. I don't feel like he should be disciplined for telling a bratty sibling off, especially if it's deserved. A few times, D has gone right back to pestering and that earned him a trip right back in the house while I continued to play with B & B outside.

I should say too, this isn't an every day occurrence. I just started really thinking about it more because, like I said, we are thinking of adding a puppy to our family once BF's Dad moves out with Betty and Biscuit.

So, how should I proceed with Dieter? I don't want to mess with their pack structure, but how do I let him know that this is NOT an acceptable way to play with other dogs? Can I teach him a "right" way?
 

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Originally Posted By: LuvsDieterYup, I think you are right. I waffle between letting things work themselves out and stepping in. Time to start taking a more active role!

Dieter is about 4 years old and neutered.

When ever I hear Biscuit growl, I immediately separate the 2. Dieter gets a strong "Leave him alone" and then he does. I want Biscuit to know that he is right to warn D to leave him alone if it's outside his comfort zone. I don't feel like he should be disciplined for telling a bratty sibling off, especially if it's deserved. A few times, D has gone right back to pestering and that earned him a trip right back in the house while I continued to play with B & B outside.

I should say too, this isn't an every day occurrence. I just started really thinking about it more because, like I said, we are thinking of adding a puppy to our family once BF's Dad moves out with Betty and Biscuit.

So, how should I proceed with Dieter? I don't want to mess with their pack structure, but how do I let him know that this is NOT an acceptable way to play with other dogs? Can I teach him a "right" way?
I wouldn't "correct" Biscuit either, I agree with you that he shouldn't be disciplined for "telling of" Deiter.

Honestly, I don't know how you should procede with Deiter and his unacceptable "playing". I can't think of a way that a human can teach a dog how to play with other dogs the "right way".
 

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As long as you don't show any favoritism to Biscuit when you reprimand Dieter for being a bully then I would just keep doing it.

Soon Dieter will learn that it is not ok with YOU to be harassing Biscuit.

People create problems when they try to push a low-level dog to the top of the pack even if the dog doesn't WANT to be there.

You are not telling Dieter that Biscuit is above him. You are telling Dieter that his behavior is unacceptable to YOU.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Originally Posted By: Lauri & The GangSoon Dieter will learn that it is not ok with YOU to be harassing Biscuit.

People create problems when they try to push a low-level dog to the top of the pack even if the dog doesn't WANT to be there.

You are not telling Dieter that Biscuit is above him. You are telling Dieter that his behavior is unacceptable to YOU.
Cool. That was my intention. I know Biscuit doesn't want to move up in the pack and I don't want to push him there either. All in all, our little pack is very happy and all their personalities mesh very well.

Lauri, any thoughts on how I can help Dieter play "correctly" with other dogs or should I give up on that dream for a while?
 
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