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  1. #1
    Road Dawg

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    Default Avoiding issues down the road between my two dogs

    My 5 year old aussie, Karma, has never shown any "alpha" tendencies. Now we have Max, and he is definitely very confident. I have assumed they will work out the details and Max will probably "outrank" Karma.

    Max loves Karma and loves to play, but he plays rough and longer than she wants and she will ask for a break in her crate when she is just done. And while Max has shown no aggression at all with his food, this morning he finished his meal quickly and ran to steal Karma's. She backed off to allow it. I stepped in to stop him and told her to eat, and he growled at her when she stepped back up to her bowl.

    Questions: When the dogs play, when should I step in and when should I allow them to work out their own relationship? They haven't hurt each other, but Max clearly goes takes his role as annoying baby brother to heart. They are roughly the same size...this week, at least.

    What can I do to keep the food situation from escalating? We were trying to feed the dogs at the same time in 2 areas, as we have always done in the past. Tonight we fed each dog inside while the other was in the back yard. No further issues between them. Max allows Karma to steal his toys and they don't argue when I have given them both treats at the same time.

  2. #2
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    Max’s behavior sounds a lot like that of Chester, my non-Pyr. Both of my boys like to play rough, but Chester has far more energy and stamina than Sebastian does, which leads to Chester being a bit rough when he’s the only one who wants to play. Chester is also my greedy little piglet who loves trying to take toys and treats away from his big brother.

    In both instances, I intervene.

    When Chester gets to be too much for Sebastian, I try to redirect him and get him to focus on a fun game he can play with me, or a favorite toy he can chew quietly. Sometimes, he gets a time out in his crate with a favorite bone. Time out is a redirection, not a punishment, and I am careful to ensure that he doesn’t associate it with any negative feelings. If he starts to get antsy or whines to be let out of his crate, he is let out of his crate, and I find another way to distract him from wanting to chew on his brother.

    Chester is also fed every single meal in his crate, and is not let out until both dogs are done eating. Brand new bones and other high-value, long-lasting treats are also given to Chester only when he is in his crate. In addition to preventing Chester from stealing Sebastian’s stuff, it has helped reinforce the idea that the crate is a place where AWESOME things happen, and it has given Chester a sense of security, knowing that his things aren’t going to be taken from him so long as he is in his crate.

    Being that Max’s crate has presumably not arrived, yet, you might do well feeding Max and Karma in an area where they can see and smell one another at meal times, but not interact. If there is a good place where you can set up a baby gate to separate them during meals, that could be helpful. Likewise, you could try feeding Karma in her crate.
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  3. #3
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) nick's spirit's Avatar

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    Don't be surprised if one day Karma turns around with a nasty snarl & chases Max with an attitude that clearly says "I have enough, I told you to cut it out & I mean it!!"

    Angel has done that when Rudy was a pup...first she'd lower her head...then lift her lip...then a quick snap...if all that fails & he neglected to get the message...it's a full on chase ( which I think Rudy loved as a puppy, but now that he's almost 6 & she's almost 11, when he pushes that button, he knows to run!)

    Totally agree with SebastiansMom....go ahead & feed Karma in her crate, or separate them somehow...you definatley want to teach Max to have manners & not have to have any aggression with either of them.

  4. #4
    Road Dawg

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    Karma is a stressball and doesn't want to eat in her crate. Today we fed Karma in the kitchen and Max in the extra crate in our bedroom. Max's pony-sized crate arrived this evening and we put it together with only mild distress to the humans, none for the canines. Extra crate had to go, as Max's crate is the size of some New York apartments. Max likes his crate and is already willing to get in it for a treat, even let me shut the door without complaint.

    I gave both dogs treats together today with no issues. I also increased Max's food portion, in case his reaction was simple hunger. He's growing so fast, it's hard to gauge correct portions for him.

    I would actually love for Karma to tell Max off at some point, because he seems to look up to her and still knows he's a puppy and is willing to defer a bit while he's "little." But she is pretty submissive and her only other dog experience is with an even MORE submissive standard poodle who passed away in early May. We spent his puppyhood trying to convince him not to roll over and pee in the air at every cross word or loud noise! Night and day from Max, who tried to help us assemble his crate tonight and slept through house vacuuming his second day home.

  5. #5
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Jewel's Avatar

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    With a puppy that doesn't know when to stop play, I would step in when Karma indicates she needs a break. Karma shouldn't have to be forced to entertain the pup when she's had enough. Also it's good practice for the pup to learn to curb his enthusiasm, learn frustration control.

    As for puppy taking food from Karma, that I would definitely make sure he doesn't get to practice that. When we were a 2-dog household, the dogs were fed in different rooms where they couldn't see the other eat. I was actually going to suggest that Max should be the one fed in his crate before I saw your post. I thought that because Max was the one who exhibited undesirable behavior, it's him who should be confined and not make Karma having to change her habits when she didn't do anything wrong.

    Are you socializing Max with other dogs yet? He needs to be extensively socialized to make sure he grows to be a balanced dog. He's shown that he's pretty assertive. With a dog like that you need to handle firmly and with confidence. You might want to consider starting NILIF.

  6. #6
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    Personally, I am not a fan of letting them work things out amongst themselves. In some instances, everything works out fine, but there are other cases where working it out themselves can lead to escalated altercations down the road. While puppy Max might back off after a stern warning from his “big” sister, adolescent and adult Max might not be as agreeable.

    Also, in my experience, dogs who tend to be “stressballs” (my Chester is one), tend not to make the most rational decisions, and run the risk of giving a response that is disproportionately greater then the behavior that prompted it.

    As for the crate being big, there were a few times that I closed myself in Sebastian’s to give myself a break from him. I’m pretty sure that it was more roomy and comfortable than some of the places I lived in when I lived in New York. It definitely had fewer mice than anywhere I lived in NYC!
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  7. #7
    Road Dawg

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    Karma has begun to go to her crate to ask for a play break sometimes, which is fine. And when Max seems to be annoying her, I will have my daughter take her for a walk without Max or my son take Max in the back yard to romp around and get some energy out. Or do a training session with one of them. Once we get Max acclimated to the crate, we can send him there to calm down.

    The food issue is odd. Karma really wants the large breed puppy food (and the cat food) and Max wants her regular adult dog food. Grass is greener, I suppose. I closed Max in his crate, and he is not quite ready to eat with it closed, but he did eat in his crate with the door open. They are both quite ready to trade food bowls, which I can't allow.

    Yes, we have Max in puppy class which allows for a little socialization after. He loves all dogs he sees, and once he has his third shots we will ramp up those dog socialization efforts. Right now, we take him out to a new place every day, but with more of a focus on restaurant patios, hardware stores, leashed parks, etc.

  8. #8
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Antonia's Avatar

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    I monitor morning and evening play sessions with my 9 month old and three year old Kangal girls. These are times when my pup is very active and rambunctious. While the three year old can deal with anything that is dished out, she gets tired of the wild play sooner than the pup. If the pup doesn't respond to the signals that she's getting tired of it, they can get irritated with each other. I don't want to go there so I periodically stop the play, having them come to me for a treat and to depressurize the situation. Then if the 3 year old wants to continue playing, she initiates it but has the ability to walk away and lie down if she wants. For me it's worth it to have these time outs and not let exuberant play spiral out of control and lead to a misunderstanding.

    My dogs are all either crated or cabled before I even pull out the food bowls. I have one dog that is reactive over food and even me setting up the bowls can make him grumpy with the others. If they are inside for feeding, they are each fed in a separate room and not let out until everything is cleaned up and put away.

  9. #9
    Road Dawg

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    So we went out to eat with Max and he was served a beef bone that he barely touched because there was so much to sniff and watch. Brought it home and put it in his crate, he gnawed it a bit. This morning, Karma snuck into his crate while he wasn't in there and stole the bone and he cheerfully agreed to share it with her before I even realized it happened.

    Meanwhile, I was so excited that Max has had no accidents in the house in a week and really seems to be getting the hang of potty training. And I loosened my indoor oversight just a smidge accordingly. But last night he pooped in the least-used room in the house...and then covered it up by flipping the corner of the rug over it! Back to square one, I suppose.

  10. #10
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) nick's spirit's Avatar

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    ah...puppy adventures & mischief!!!!

    glad that Max was okay about the bone....wonder if he does't consider that a high value item?

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