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    Thread: Puppy Dominance

    1. #1
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      Unhappy Puppy Dominance

      HELP! My 4 month old puppy is already showing dominant behaviors. I have a pretty social Pomeranian. She is used to other dogs and quite friendly. When we first brought my lab puppy in at 8 weeks, they got along like two peas in a pod! I took my lab around my friends dog as well ( an english bulldog) and he was perfectly fine and playful! Come around 2 weeks ago, we took him to my parents house and he would not leave their Poms alone! He felt the need to either pin them down or stand on top of them. Ive heard of dogs mounting other dogs but I have never heard of them just standing over. When I try to correct him he acts as if im not even there! Now i'm noticing he is doing it with all the dogs that are even slightly smaller than him and even to my Pom who he has been around everyday. I dont know how to stop it and I want to rid this behavior because hes starting to get aggressive and persistant. Does anyone know what the best approach to take on this behavior? I have done some research and many things have told me that its because I have not established myself as the pack leader or that he might have too much energy. I take him out for walks, we have playtime, and I stimulate his brain with training sessions. But I also have noticed that hes an awesome listener indoors but outdoors he doesnt listen at all. I have him scheduled for his first puppy obedience school this month and maybe the trainer can help me but I wanted to see if any of you can help me in the meantime!

    2. #2
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      I SERIOUSLY doubt a 4 month old pup is being dominant. Lab puppies are big and clumsy and play rough.

      Do you know what is covered in your puppy class? are they allowing play/social time or not? I would recommend a puppy class that includes socalisations/plyaing as part of the learning (i.e. teaching you what is acceptable puppy play, what is not, and if not how to step in and separate).

      Do you have friends with bigger, well behaved (social) dogs? Playing with only little dogs that don't "correct" him may have just lead to him not understanding what is appropriate. Some little dogs can still be SUPER good at correcting other dogs, but sometimes no. You need a few very social bigger dogs that can show him what is appropriate play.

      Please don't call it dominance It's likely just a puppy being a puppy. Beware any theory that says you need to be alpha. YES absolutely you want to be a leader, but a leader is FAIR and shows direction (by showing the dog what is expected and setting them up to succeed). Not just willy nilly being hard on the dog and correcting.

    3. The Following User Says Thank You to Tanya For This Useful Post:

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    4. #3
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      regarding the good listener indoors vs outdoors, keep in mind training is a long road. FIRST you show the behaviour (what is expected) then give it a command/signal. This part is done somewhere with FEW distractions. Lots of rewards and setting up for success. Once the dog has it (and complies 90% of the time) you can add distraction or distance or duration (only one d at a time). Teaching the command is just step 1, then you got to proof. Dogs don't generalize. So if you have the command indoors, you need to start introducing distractions and training outdoors (in low distractions!!). you may need the dog on leash and in a quiet spot to start. and then you continue on this path.

      When a dog is mid-play that is HIGH DISTRACTION. For some dogs, this will be the HIGHEST LEVEL of distractions. So if you haven't started training with distractions, you cannot expect the puppy to listen. It's a shot in the dark. Just go in and remove the puppy from the play (calmly) and calm him down. If the little dog doesn't want to play (doesn't come towards the puppy, leaves the area) then just keep the dogs separated for a bit.

      For exercise, make sure he gets tons of off leash play time (on leash isn't really exercise, it's a warm up!)

    5. #4
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      Puppies play the same way little boys do, they fake fight. So while those are moves dogs employ to show who is boss it's unlikely a 4 month old means them quite that way, he's probably playing. He's cruising for a bruising though, pretty soon his puppy license will expire and an older dog will show him what is acceptable behaviour, play or not. Do you know any older dogs who are balanced and tolerant and won't rip the snot out of him but show him what he is doing is unacceptable? What about your friend's English Bulldog? I've read an older female is best but my own boy is pretty good with that kind of behaviour. My boy will take his big mitt, flatten the pup and hold him down with jaws around the neck. He's never hurt a pup. Just telling so you will know what to expect. Usually they learn not to be too rough with any dog regardless of size but if the little dogs don't tell him off, and many will, then you will have to step in so he doesn't hurt them.

      Reinforcing your position and the bonding that comes from taking a class together can only help but my experience is dogs teach dogs best in this particular situation. You can up your own training at home, don't wait for the class to start.

      How much play time off leash does he get? On leash walks don't do much for exercise and can do damage to a young pup's joints.

      ETA: Wow, Tanya, you're a fast typer.

    6. #5
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      I agree with both posts. A 16 week old lab pup does not even know what being agressive is. He just has not learned HOW to play yet. Labs LOVE to play bitey face and other seemingly agressive activities. They play rough! When two lab pups play, you would think by the snarls and barks, they are really getting into it!!! After some good roughhousing, they will both get up, shake, lick each other and run off to look for something else fun to do.

      An older lab would be perfect to teach him this. Let him 'get his butt kicked' a few times and he will learn there is a limit in play. I don't mean have the other dog tear him up!!!! Just do the same to him as he is doing, put him down and not let him up. It is all part of growing up and you have to make sure he gets this proper social training.


      For the inside/outside thing. Outside is a pretty exciting place, especially to a 16 week old lab pup!!! Remember, he has a VERY HIGH energy level too! He NEEDS to just run around off leash like a demented nut. Give him that time, be it 10 minutes or 3 hours, he NEEDS to let off steam and burn that puppy energy! He will let you know how long he needs. When Sunshine was a pup, she NEEDED 4 to 5 hours a day of off leash run like a nut time EVERY DAY, rain or shine, light or dark, hot or cold. She wore me to a frazzle for a year and a half. I don't mean unsupervised time either. YOU have to be out there to guide him and teach him. Every moment is a training moment. Realize you are not going to get a come/sit/stay when going nuts outside. It is more of a '[Name], come on, lets go over here!', 'Check this out!!!', 'What is that???' Just guidance, but they are learning to listen to you because you are giving them direction.


      I'm not trying to be critical or say anyone is doing something wrong. All lab pups are different. But when I hear about a pup not listening and running wild outside, that is because they are telling you that is what they require. After they get it out of their system you can leash up and go to 'work'. It is a longer road with some pups more than others but well worth it in the end!!!

    7. #6
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      Thank you everyone! This is such a relief! A friend (fellow lab owner) saw what our pup was doing an told us he was being dominant. He just stands stiff over all the dogs and and its not even when they are playing. After being told this, I got nervous about the taking him to obedience class. I was scared he'd do this with other dogs. The obedience class he is signed up for is a positive learning class that will teach him the basic commands (sit, lay, stay etc) they also have puppy play before and after each session. My parents currently have my rescue Husky (shes 8 yrs) and my pup will try and play with her but she will put him in his place and he will just run away and never go near her after that. Thats why i've found it odd... he will stay away from bigger dogs and try to run off but the smaller ones he will just stand over, sometimes not even play. I read a lot and saw tutorials on training with distractions and have heard obedience class will help a lot. I felt I needed to state his outside behavior in case it was something that had to do with his behavior towards the other dogs. Glad to hear that it is all just puppy being. Thank you!

    8. #7
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      If your puppy is being stiff and standing over other dogs, this is a dominant behavior. However, I would get your trainer's advice on it before making that distinction, only because we have not seen it happen.

      Keep in mind, that just because a puppy is dominant, does not mean he's going to be aggressive. A puppy, especially a large breed puppy, needs to have strong and clear leadership -- not to be confused with dominance. This means NILIF (nothing in life is free -- google it) and clear and consistent rules. A dog that does not have this, especially if they fall on the insecure or dominant side, can have issues.

      I personally take my puppies and mold them rather than waiting for certain behaviors to arise and dealing with them then, that way there is a foundation laid, expectations, training, etc. A puppy is WAY EASIER to train than an older puppy or young adult. Definitely go to obedience school and work really hard with your puppy for the next few years. Then, when he's three, you'll have a great dog.

      Though I have never had issues with my pups, I have seen a lot of puppies with dominant behavior patterns that are not a big deal with the right owner. And, the bottom line is that anytime your puppy displays behaviors you don't like, you should deal with it. Have your trainer show you the best way to do this.

      What is your puppy's background? Does the breeder carefully breed her dogs for health and temperament? Did you meet one or both parents? What were they like?
      Last edited by Labradorks; 08-03-2014 at 02:32 AM.

    9. #8
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      Its like every time I take the dogs out and bring them in, my lab will go straight to our Pom and stand on top of her for as long as she will let him. He doesnt move, just stands there. I have a picture of him doing it with my parents dog as well ( just dont know how to post it). When it comes to the dogs that wont just stand there and let hime stand over, thats when biting comes in.

      As for training, I started doing obedience training with him since he was 9 weeks and we do it daily, and hes amazing during our training sessions! ( he knows how to sit, lay, head down, stay, shake, high five, leave it, and speak). Just when were outside he doesnt listen and I understand it is due to the fact that I have yet to worked with him with distractions. I was just reaching out to see if any of you felt that this was all (standing over dogs and training) linked to me not showing him a strong leadership. I've heard dogs will not stand over other dogs if I had established leadership. Am I being too loving and not being stern enough? I'm hoping the trainer will guide me to right direction. I am willing to whatever it takes, I just feel awful when my puppy dogs this other dogs.

      As for the background, I unfortunately do not know the background. He was given to me as a gift. Luckily I do know he is healthy (15wks and 30lbs), happy and loving. He's filled with energy and so playful. Although he is a "Marley" sometimes and im covered in bites, bruises, and scratches; he is amazing! And because I find him so amazing, I want to fix this problem with him! Thank you for the time all of you are taking out to read my concerns.

    10. #9
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      [QUOTE=sgracielee;27679]Its like every time I take the dogs out and bring them in, my lab will go straight to our Pom and stand on top of her for as long as she will let him. He doesnt move, just stands there. I have a picture of him doing it with my parents dog as well ( just dont know how to post it). QUOTE]

      Interesting. Sunshine has a 3' tall stuffed teddy bear, "Bubba", she has had since she was 10 weeks old. She is 2.5 now. After we have been out and about, she will grab him and pin him up against the couch cushion and give him 8 to 12 good hard humps. After that he is just another object on the floor. Up to about a year old he was her bestest buddy. He went everywhere! She would drag him outside and wrestle with him, he accompanied her in all the mud puddles, helped digging holes... I never really thought much about it because Bubba never complained.

    11. #10
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      [QUOTE=Woodrow_Woodchuck;27748]
      Quote Originally Posted by sgracielee View Post
      Its like every time I take the dogs out and bring them in, my lab will go straight to our Pom and stand on top of her for as long as she will let him. He doesnt move, just stands there. I have a picture of him doing it with my parents dog as well ( just dont know how to post it). QUOTE]

      Interesting. Sunshine has a 3' tall stuffed teddy bear, "Bubba", she has had since she was 10 weeks old. She is 2.5 now. After we have been out and about, she will grab him and pin him up against the couch cushion and give him 8 to 12 good hard humps. After that he is just another object on the floor. Up to about a year old he was her bestest buddy. He went everywhere! She would drag him outside and wrestle with him, he accompanied her in all the mud puddles, helped digging holes... I never really thought much about it because Bubba never complained.
      Oh my gosh. Oban has one too. Poppa Bear is not quite so big but he gets the same kind of attention just after a good walk or sporadically during the day. Not so much now that Oban is 6 years old. So there you are, buy Marley a big teddy bear, see if that helps.

      P.S. Oban has never, ever, humped anything other than Poppa Bear. And Oban is an intact male.

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