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How much do you interfere in your dog's relationships?

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Yes, I know. :tongue_smilie: I never thought I'd be asking this! We got a second dog a couple months ago. Merlin is a teeny little Pomapoo puppy--4lbs of sheer joy. Rosie, our first dog, is a big DUMB 3yo lab/pit mix. For reasons unknown to me, Rosie is totally submissive to Merlin.


She lets him take her toys, lie on her bed, even come into her crate. She will play with him and roll over and give him her neck. He has always done the "puppy nip" thing, and Rosie generally either ignores it or plays back with him. When she's had enough, she will nose Merlin really hard and send him rolling. He always comes right back, though. Occasionally, she will steal his food, but he doesn't seem to mind.


I'm starting to wonder if we should step in. I don't really care who is dominant, but it seems to me that Rosie ought to be able to get some peace from Merlin now and then. He is constantly nipping at her face, her legs, her tail, whatever he can reach. Should I try to break him of this habit or just let them work it out on their own?


I've had two dogs before, but they seemed to consider themselves equals, so I've never dealt with this issue before.


Here's a visual of what life is like for Rosie. During all this, they were playing happily together, tails wagging. No one was injured or unhappy. Rosie had been playing with the orange Kong, when Merlin walked up. Rosie immediately dropped the Kong and laid down, and Merlin started nomming. The second picture just happened to catch Rosie with her mouth open. She never tried to bite Merlin. In the last pic, he is actually tugging on her cheek like a toy. :001_huh:








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this sounds exactly like how my 2 dogs are. We have a 2 yr old golden retriever who we got as a puppy, then we just got a new puppy (he is now 5 months). He treats our golden the same way. She responds the same way as your older dog. She does, now, play back some.


I say unless out & out fighting starts, let them sort it out.


And, they are cuties!

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What you're describing sounds like a normal relationship between a stable adult dog and a young puppy. It's not submissiveness at all, but essentially an adult humoring a puppy. Most adult dogs are normally very forgiving of puppy antics. 'Cause that's good for the long-term survival of the species.


As Merlin gets older it will become more and more likely that Rosie will start occasionally correcting him for unwanted behavior. And that's normal and she sounds like a wonderful "mother figure" for him. And while it's unlikely she'd hurt him during a correction (although he may cry like she has), you will need to keep a close watch on their interactions given the size difference. If they were mine, I'd only allow play when I was right there supervising and I'd separate them at the very first sign that Rosie's had enough. She really sounds like a wonderful puppy-raiser, but given their size difference and the fact that even the most stable dog has their limit, you have to be on guard to step in whenever she starts showing signs of having had enough.

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I had foster puppies for years. Our lurcher was extremely laid back and would just lie on the floor and let puppies crawl all over him, chew on him, etc. Now that he is older he will get up and walk away. If he is asleep and a younger dog tries to bother him he will growl as a warning and maybe give an annoyed bark. My point is that Rosie will let him know if he is making her crazy. At that point I would make sure she gets her alone time. But you will definitely be able to tell if she's had enough.


My toy poodle was recently at my parents house at the same time as my brother's Aussie puppy. They played happily for a day or so, but Aussie puppies NEVER get tired. My parents claim that my baby would get up on the couch, hide under his blanket and suck on it and just look extremely miserable. Time to separate...

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Your older dog should be teaching the young proper manners. Some dogs are just submissive and slow to correct puppies, though. Your little dog's manners will get worse and he may experience problems with other non-family dogs if not corrected.


I suggest a small squirt bottle with water. When the little one gets out of hand, squirt and command "quit!".

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I would step in and teach the puppy some manners. Not only does the older dog deserve a break, but the puppy needs to learn boundaries and appropriate behavior. If the older dog won't teach the puppy then you will need to do so. If the puppy does not learn proper behavior, he may try the same behavior with another dog who will not put up with it and the puppy could end up injured. All I would do is when you think the older dog is not enjoying playing with the puppy, tell the puppy to stop and redirect it with another toy. If the puppy won't stop, give him a brief time out in his crate.


I had to do this with my dog. He usually gets along well with other dogs, but for some reason always gets in the face of one particular dog. That dog is too gentle to correct him. So I just told him no and gently pushed his muzzle away. He quickly understood that he shouldn't engage in that behavior, and the other dog was clearly relieved.

Edited by songsparrow
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Thanks, everyone! :)


It's good to know I've been basically doing the right thing by letting them sort it out themselves and giving Rosie a break when she seemed to have enough. Songsparrow and Stacy also bring up an excellent point about Merlin learning boundaries with other dogs.


So far, he's only encountered other dogs roughly his size, and he hasn't tried to play with them the way he does with Rosie, but that could be because he was on the leash at the time.


I might try the squirt bottle, but that could cause more trouble than it's worth. Rosie LOOOOOVES water, and snaps like a madwoman at sprayed water, like from a hose or bottle. I could see her thinking that means playtime, lol. Merlin, OTOH, is very much not a fan of water, so that could be a good deterrent for him. Hmm....I'll give it a try today and see how it goes.

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