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Hi everyone. I have two dogs, a 5 month old female GSD named Shelby and a 5 year old pitbull named Brutus.

Shelby likes to climb on Brutus (from the front or side) and nibbles/mouths his ears and face. 90% of the time, Brutus will just try to avoid her when he sees her coming. He'll either just walk away or go inside his crate. When Shelby does get him though, he'll put up with it for a little bit but after a while if she doesn't stop, he'll growl, show his teeth, and sometimes bark. What worries me is that even then, she won't stop. She'll continue to do that to him even AFTER he's growled at her.

My question is... who should I be correcting? Normally, I've been giving Brutus a correction as soon as I hear the growl. But should I make Shelby stop what she's doing as well? I assumed that was just normal puppy play. I'm worried that if I never stop her from pushing it, Brutus might bite her one day. As they get older, I also DON'T want Shelby to think she can just pick on him either because she will eventually be larger than him.

Another thing I notice is that Shelby likes to go after whatever Brutus has in his mouth such as chew toys or chew treats. But he'll never go after hers. Even if we give them both the same thing, she'll want his. When she gets close, Brutus will get up and walk away, but often times, she'll follow him and get in his face and that's when he'll growl. When this happens I give Brutus the correction once again. She doesn't try to take the item from his mouth directly but she'll get very close to his face and sometimes just lie down in front of him just inches from his face starting at the item. Should I let Shelby get in his face like that?

Any input would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks in advance.
 

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You should be correcting Shelby. She is the one being rude and in Brutus' face. It's like when you're a kid and your younger sibiling is bothering you but you get in trouble for yelling at them to leave you alone.

I don't allow my dogs to annoy one another, who ever is the one being rude (stealing toys or constantly in the other's face) is the one that gets corrected. I do not correct the dog being bothered for correcting the dog doing the bothering.

I am of the opinion that you never correct a growl. The growl is a dog's warning that they aren't happy with what's going on and if you teach them not to growl by correcting it, then you have a time bomb waiting and eventually they skip the growl and go right for the bite.

Also, in your last paragraph, Brutus is letting her have what she wants, he isn't doing anything wrong and she follows him to torment him. By correcting Brutus, you are building up the puppy and telling her it is ok to behave like that to him.
 

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Short answer: Correct Shelby, don't let her get in Brutus' face!

Brutus is being too nice to Shelby!!! Puppies need to learn their boundries and appropriate behaviours with other dogs, and it is natural for older dogs to do this. Some dogs, like Brutus, will NOT correct a puppy, or put up with a LOT of annoying behaviour because she is a puppy and babies are given lattitudes that older dogs don't get - the problem is that Shelby is not learning what is acceptable and what is not. Brutus obviously does not want to play with a biting, annoying puppy, and he should not be forced to. He has an amazing temperament to put up with as much as he does.

This is where you step in, and let Shelby know that she has to mind Brutus, and respect his space and his things. Give Brutus a break from constant puppy harassment, give them seperate time and seperate space. Brutus was there first, he is older, he should have priviledges and status over the pup in the house. Puppy is on the bottom of the ladder. Both must defer to you.

Around six or seven months, Shelby will loose her puppy pass - and Brutus will see her more as an adult dog, more as an equal. Brutus may continue to avoid her, or he may start treating her more like an older dog and stop being so patient with her. This is where I would start to worry about a possible bite, a serious correction from him. By the time Shelby is one to two years old, pack position will start to get established. Brutus may continue to be #2 in the household, and let her take the #1 position (after you, of course), and that is fine if that is the natural order of things they choose for themselves according to their personality, but I would still NOT let Shelby harass Brutus and take his things. Brutus should not feel that he has to compete against Shelby all the time.

I think they are both great dogs. Shelby sounds like a typical energetic, playful, pushy puppy, and Brutus is an angel - I would not correct him for growling at Shelby, other than maybe a verbal warning from you, and I would prevent Shelby from pushing Brutus to the point that he growls, or if Brutus is already voicing/showing that he wants that puppy away from him, I would physically remove Shelby and separate them to give the poor old guy a break and some peace.
 

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I wanted to add also, that some older dogs will give puppies "snout corrections": A quick as lightning, sharp nip to the pup's muzzle. They are hard enough corrections that the pup may yelp, there may be a mark on the muzzle, but that is okay. Totally normal, and when an older dog resorts to this, it means that the pup was being really, really, obnoxious and not taking the hint from other signals like growling or other body-language cues to quit the harassment.

So if Brutus give a muzzle correction - don't freak out - totally acceptable from Brutus in this case! Shelby deserved it, and maybe exactly what she needed to get the message that she needs to respect Brutus. My feeling is that Brutus is not likely to do this, so make sure that you step in and discipline Shelby (just tell her no and remove her - she'll get the message!).
 

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Correct shelby thats what Brutus is doing when he growls and shows teeth- parents do this to puppies as well so it's perfectly normal,lol Brutus sounds like a big sweetie:)
 

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My pup is the same way with my male dog, he's 7 yrs and she's 7months. The 7 yr old gets snarly with the pup because she will bark in his face for a toy, she can just be blatantly disrespectful. She pushes him to the limit, I don't correct him when he gets snarly but I will correct the pup and try to redirect her energy to something else. I definitely don't allow "valued" toys, bones or chewy's unsupervised, that could cause trouble. The pup doesn't play with him the way she plays with my 5 yr old female. The pup thinks my girl Kiya is her own personal chew toy, but Kiya is very tolerant of the puppy. When she has had enough and the pup persists I have seen her give a firm correction, snap at the puppy. Puppy sometimes will persist, thats when I step in again and redirect the fresh puppy. I definately try not to interfere with the older dogs status in the pack. There have been times my heart was in my stomach when the older dogs corrected the puppy. In our case it was mostly noise, the puppy is very dramatic.
Last night I picked up a new ball with a squeaker in it. The 7 yr old male is still extremely playful and toy driven. Normally the new toy what ever it is, is his favorite. Of course this new ball was a big hit last night (I should have gotten 2) since we couldn't play nice, I took the ball back and nobody got to play with it.
 

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I am having the exact same issue with my two. tucker (nearly 7) tolerates Riley (nearly 6 months) very well and he does a wonderful job correcting her, but I don't know what I should be doing.

when she takes a bite of his back, we are inside immediately, no more play for her. but the back biting is new. in fact it's only been recently that they've been allowed to play together as he wasn't entirely thrilled with her joining the family. he's done incredibly well the past several weeks.

mostly she runs along side him, nibbling his ear, putting her front paws on his back and running along side him (which I admit I find incredibly hilarious and didn't realize it was rude dog behavior) and within the past few days I've noticed the back biting thing.

is playtime over for her the as soon as one of those things happen or just continue to redirect? whenever I notice she's overly nippy on the ear and he's getting annoyed I have pretty good luck getting a toy in her mouth. in which case she just runs along side him but she still tries to get on his back.
 

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That's almost exactly what was happening between Sobacca and Minna before I came home. And my mom was correcting Sobacca because he was the trained dog and it was easier to control him/punish him and have him understand -- however that is not fair, he wasn't doing anything wrong in the first place. Your puppy has to learn to respect the adult dog's space...there were many times Minna would pounce on Sobacca while he was sleeping, and he would eventually get up and play with her a bit, and I could tell when the game was fun and when he was too tired/grumpy to play -- but still, it's my job to wear the puppy out, not Sobacca's...he should be allowed to rest if he wants to. She also has to learn to respect your older dog's space.

I'm actually not allowing Minna to play with Sobacca anymore (they'll be allowed to play when they both see me as pack leader and the one to come to when they want to play, etc -- not each other).....I get her to play with me or I spend time with her, and if I can't she goes in the crate. I wear her energy out as much as I can and if I don't feel like or can't play with her or wear her energy out then she goes to sleep in the crate -- she doesn't like it sometimes, but I need a break sometimes.
 
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