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Overprotective momma-need help!

Goldens4Ever
September 6th, 2006, 04:49 PM
Greetings everyone! I am new to this forum, so I am trying to figure all these different symbols and threads out. Anyway, let me give you a little background on my family's two golden retrievers.

Goldie is nearly three years old and Aspen is 1.5 years old. We got Aspen at 7 weeks; Goldie was 1.5 years old at the time. Even though Goldie was spayed right away as a puppy and never had a heat cycle, she completely mothered Aspen like she was her own puppy right from the very day we brought her home, and Aspen responded to Goldie like she is her genuine mother! She would even try to look for Goldie's teats to suckle on, and would never be away from Goldie--she even slept with and ontop of her belly. Those were the most precious months I have ever had with them!:cloud9:

Anyway, when we are walking together outside or someone knocks on our door/rings the bell, they briefly attack each other. However, of more concern is when we are walking together, Goldie becomes overly aggressive when we approach other dogs, and we believe that she is trying to "protect" Aspen because afterwards she insists on smelling her all over (mothering) and checking to see that she is okay.

How can we keep this wonderful bond between the two of them, yet show Goldie that she does not have to be leary or fearful of other dogs hurting Aspen? They are (and have been) involved with several different types of training classes, separately. Oddly, I took Goldie through the Canine Good Citizen class and she passed with flying colors, but whenever "her puppy" is around and there are other dogs, Goldie acts like a crazed momma. What can we do? It seems like her every thought concerns Aspen, as she is always watching her, smelling her, cleaning her, etc. Any ideas would greatly be appreciated!

On another note, Goldie has another peculiar behavior. We brought her home at 9 weeks of age, and since that time she has always been supplied with many stuffed animals. However, what she does with her stuffed animals seems weird to us. She suckles them. She clamps her mouth over the stuffed animal's face, wraps her paws around it's body and just suckles it for LONG periods of time. Sometimes she will fall asleep with her jaw still clamped on the stuffed animal or she'll use it as a pillow when her jaws finally tire. She has always done this (and still does) and almost appears to be disoriented without her 'stuffy' to suck on. Aspen does not display this behavior at all. She likes to put the stuffies in her mouth and run all over the house shaking them real fast and teasing Goldie with it (even though they each have their own, separate stuffies). What is going on here?:confused:

Prin
September 6th, 2006, 04:58 PM
I think the only way is to further assert your own position as the alpha dog in your home. The alpha person is the one who protects the pack, and your older Goldie thinks that's her job. :shrug: You also need to some how get her attention and reassure her that there is no danger and she shouldn't be concerned. Some people do the distraction thing when they're walking. Like as you walk by another dog, maintain the dog's focus on you.

MyBirdIsEvil
September 6th, 2006, 08:20 PM
How are your dogs positioned when you walk them together? It may sound odd by I always put my dominant dog on the far left, and my submissive dog inbetween us. Usually the pack leader is the one to jump in front of the other dogs if there's a bad situation, in order to take control. If my submissive dog is in the middle he feels safe and my more dominant dog feels like she can better watch what's going on around her. Ultimately I'm pack leader and if anything bad happens they look to ME not to my dominant dog, but it makes them feel safer to always be in the same order on their walks.

Also, are you sure they're not just getting excited? Sometimes when my dogs see another dog or a person that they're interested in they will start nipping and biting each other and jumping around, I think it's their way of deciding who approaches the person/dog first. They're still puppies and I often have to remind them that I'M the one who allows them to approach other people/dogs, and they'll calm down. Maybe your dogs don't realize that they're supposed to wait for YOU to decide what they should do.
Do you often let your dogs walk in front of you? Also, if your dogs are getting excited like this when you pass other dogs, maybe you could try stepping inbetween them and the other dog to show that you're the one in control, not them. Btw, your dogs should always be on your left, and if you pass another dog, that dog should be on your right side so that your dogs aren't passing right next to the other dog. You should always be between your dogs and whoever you're passing.

I agree with prins post, the dog doesn't know it's your job to protect it.

Goldie becomes overly aggressive when we approach other dogs

If what you mean by "approach" is when you go to pass another dog, try my above advice. If by approach you mean that you're actually walking up to the other dog, then you shouldn't be doing this. You should only approach other dogs when your dogs are calm and non-aggressive. Always approach on YOUR terms, never let the dogs lead you. I dunno any other advice to give since I can't actually see you walking them.

Goldens4Ever
September 6th, 2006, 11:02 PM
Thank you for your responses. Now I have some answers to your questions. First, when we walk our three dogs, the cocker spaniel is positioned on the right side, Aspen is on the inner left side, and Goldie (Big Momma) is on the outer left side, right next to Aspen. They do not walk far out infront of us for the vast majority of their walking sessions, as they need to remain by our left side so that they have consistency with what they learn in their training classes. But, once in a while when we are on the street leading up to our house, we'll say "lead out," which gives them permission to walk out in front of us (this is only for about 2 minutes).

What I meant by "approaching another dog" is simply passing them while walking (the two goldens are on the opposite side of the passing dogs). We are very careful about ensuring that if we do stop to meet and greet a passing dog/owner that they know, that Goldie and Aspen approach them on our terms, as we do not let them drag us to them. If it is a dog that they are familiar with, they act perfectly normal and well-behaved.

As far as the two goldens nipping at each other, I believe you are right that they may just be excited, as that certainly seems like a viable justification. But, that is certainly something that we would like to see less of. I do not know why Goldie seems to think that she needs to 'protect' Aspen. We have tried the distraction technique, and they are doing better while we are walking; however, when something 'exciting' happens at the house such as a door bell ringing or they hear a strange sound, they will nip at each other. Two weeks ago, my mother was at a training session with Aspen while I sat in the audience with Goldie. Goldie insisted on having her eye on Aspen every second and was completely focused on her; she even barked and whined for her a few times. When Aspen was finished with her training session, Goldie smelled Aspen all over from head to toe before we could leave the building! Wow--what a momma! Needless to say, Goldie does not go to watch Aspen's training sessions anymore :love:

As far as dominance is concerned, Aspen has ALWAYS tried to be Alpha since the day we brought her home and Goldie would let her go pretty far, perhaps too far. However, Goldie did eventually establish that she is Alpha, but she still let's Aspen act as though that is not the case. Aspen knows when Goldie lets out a certain type of growl to back off because GOLDIE IS ALPHA--this does not happen too often, as she usually lets Aspen have her way and go on pretending that she's Alpha. It is really interesting to watch this....Aspen is like a 'spoiled brat' with Goldie because Goldie rarely puts her foot down like a parent who will not discipline their children and demonstrate consistency and follow-through.

Any comments about Goldie's behavior with her stuffies?

I would like to paste their picture here but I do not know how. Please instruct me so that I may show them--they are truly magnificent!

MyBirdIsEvil
September 6th, 2006, 11:29 PM
Two weeks ago, my mother was at a training session with Aspen while I sat in the audience with Goldie. Goldie insisted on having her eye on Aspen every second and was completely focused on her

That doesn't sound motherly, honestly it sounds like Goldie is jealous when Aspen is away from the pack or gets attention. Walnut exhibits this behavior and in no way is it because she's protective of my other dog, though many people mistakenly believe this.

however, when something 'exciting' happens at the house such as a door bell ringing or they hear a strange sound, they will nip at each other.

Like I said, my dogs do that when they're trying to figure out who should go to the door, or sometimes it's more of a "Hey dijoo hear that?" "I did I did!" and then they nip at each other in excitement. I always call them both back and make them lay down while I answer the door.

As far as the walking situation it sounds like you're doing ok, it's always hard to keep more than one dog completely focused on you at the same time, it mostly takes a lot of patience. I'm trying to teach my dogs that, they're almost 9 and 11 months.

As far as dominance is concerned, Aspen has ALWAYS tried to be Alpha since the day we brought her home and Goldie would let her go pretty far, perhaps too far.

You said you brought Aspen home at 7 weeks. Before about 10 months- 1 year old, or more, a puppy isn't trying to establish dominance. The puppy is playing and practicing his behaviors and the other dog is pretty much humoring him, which is why Goldie let Aspen go so far. At 1.5 yrs old Aspen is still exhibiting a little bit of puppy behavior, and if it appears that Goldie is letting Aspen do most of what he wants it's because they're playing and "practicing". Neither of them are actually trying to establish dominance over each other, if that was the case you would KNOW.

However, Goldie did eventually establish that she is Alpha, but she still let's Aspen act as though that is not the case.

She never had to establish that she was Alpha. She was in the household first when a very young puppy was brought in, therefore she was already Alpha. Before a puppy hits a certain age older dogs will let them get away with a lot and then they'll start teaching them manners by correcting them when they do something inappropriate. Though it may appear that Goldie was trying to establish dominance she was most likely teaching your other dog manners. The fact that she lets him "act" as though this is not the case, just means that she doesn't mind him playing with her or exhibiting certain behaviors. That's the right word he's ACTING. If he actually starts trying to be dominant, believe me, she's not going to allow the behavior, unless she's willing to submit, which I doubt.

Any comments about Goldie's behavior with her stuffies?

It just sounds kind of like a security blanket, like a child sucking it's thumb or carrying around their blanky. It makes her feel safe.

Goldens4Ever
September 6th, 2006, 11:57 PM
Great feedback MyBirdIsEvil--makes sense. One thing though, if Aspen never was Alpha, why does she always stand over Goldie's head? Even when we first brought Aspen home and to this day, she will stand over Goldie's head when Goldie is lying down; she will do this several times throughout the day. Goldie just lays there and does not seem to mind. Is Aspen displaying a dominance thing or is this a protective thing? If Goldie shifts her position in any way, Aspen will also shift her position so that she is standing DIRECTLY over Goldie's head. Whenever Goldie attempts to stand over Aspen's head, Aspen gets upset!!! Weird, huh? We have had two occurences of fighting between them-the kind of fighting that is NOT playful. Luckily we were there to break them up. Neither were hurt, but it was evident from their voices that both were very serious and/or upset. Their loud growls towards each other during these incidents were frightening. Afterwards, they were back to normal.

Prin
September 7th, 2006, 01:06 AM
One thing though, if Aspen never was Alpha, why does she always stand over Goldie's head? Even when we first brought Aspen home and to this day, she will stand over Goldie's head when Goldie is lying down; she will do this several times throughout the day. Because Aspen is a smart a**. :D :shrug: Real alphas don't have to prove it every time they walk into a room. Everybody just knows.

MyBirdIsEvil
September 7th, 2006, 02:39 AM
Neither were hurt, but it was evident from their voices that both were very serious and/or upset. Their loud growls towards each other during these incidents were frightening. Afterwards, they were back to normal.

If neither was hurt there's a chance they actually weren't that upset. I can't know for sure obviously, since I didn't see it, but my dogs can sound vicious and scary like they're attacking each other, when actually they're just playing. Neither of them is actually leaving a mark on each other.

Royce often stands over Walnut too, but I think it's just to get a rise out of her. When she stands over him he gets very snappy and vicious looking, he bares his teeth and growls loudly, he sounds like he's going to actually attack, but it's how he plays. :shrug:

He'll go as far as biting her legs and the back of her neck, but if it goes too far, in barely a second she makes him submit. She's most definately the dominant dog, and no matter how much my other dog postures, it's not going to change. The alpha dog doesn't have to go around constantly proving they're alpha dog. When the puppy takes play too far they'll do something that says "Hey, enough, or else" and that's it.

Also, one of the qualities of a pack leader is that they're calm at all times. When Aspen is standing over Goldie and she just ignores it, it's probably like "Hey, whatever, I don't care." That's actually one of the ways bad behavior is curved, it's ignored.

I just watched a show on Animal Planet about coyotes the other day, and it was really interesting how all their behaviors were exactly like normal dogs. Dogs are the same, most people just can't "read" them.

Prin
September 7th, 2006, 02:42 AM
Jemma and Boo fought twice. It definitely wasn't playing. Neither got hurt, but it was still a fight. When in doubt, separate them.:)

Goldens4Ever
September 7th, 2006, 08:17 AM
Yes, Goldie definitely is the calm one, and I believe that you are right in that she and Aspen both know that Goldie is the leader; she doesn't need to go around 'flaunting' it all the time.

But regarding those two incidents-the tones of their voices were very different from their normal playful growls. They were extremely vicious sounding and they were really going at each other much differently than they usual. I am just glad that we were they both times to break them up, regardless if it was serious or just play. They play very rough at times and growl very loudly; however, these two isolate incidents were that times x5.

Thanks!

MyBirdIsEvil
September 7th, 2006, 03:22 PM
I agree with breaking them up, I break up my dogs when it gets too rough, even if they're playing, I was just suggesting that maybe they weren't as serious as you thought.
It's hard to know exactly what's going on just from a written description, 'cause dog behavior involves so much body language and stuff.
Either way, dogs will sometimes get in fights over what seems like nothing, maybe one looked at the other wrong, one was holding it's tail up a little bit too high, who knows.

Prin
September 7th, 2006, 03:24 PM
Yeah dogs can be pmsed too sometimes. :rolleyes:

Dog Dancer
September 13th, 2006, 02:49 PM
So much of this posturing stuff sounds like my two. Shadow is 9 and Halo is 5 and there has never been an issue over Shadow being Alpha of the two dogs. She allows Halo a ton of bad behavior and they nip and rough-house all the time and sometimes I think Halo pushes the boundaries waaay too far but Shadow lets het. Shadow does not own a single toy - Halo owns them all! Okay by Shadow. Shadow is laying somewhere and Halo wants that spot Halo just grumbles a bit and Shadow moves over. But Halo will not, ever, walk over top of or jump over Shadow to get past her into a room. Halo will stand there and cry until either Shadow voluntarily moves or we ask Shadow to move so that Halo can come in. If Shadow is laying in the doorway to the patio Halo will be stuck outside until Shadow moves. Halo will not risk bumping Shadow when she's sleeping - it's very funny to watch this interaction of theirs. When Shadow wants the games to stop - she tells Halo and they stop. And when Shadow tells Halo off, Halo gets all sucky with her like to say "I was just kidding around". I love to watch them figuring this stuff out. And yes, we've had both since they were SPCA adopted as pups, so Shadow was automatically the Alpha.

Goldens4Ever
September 13th, 2006, 11:58 PM
Dog Dancer,

Yes, that is so similar to how my girls interact/play. Aspen cannot stand it if Goldie has a toy, as Aspen has to have all the toys! If each of them are thrown a ball, Aspen will drop hers and run over and take Goldie's! Then Aspen will tease Goldie with it by jumping infront of her and running in circles around her, in an effort to get Goldie to chase her. If Goldie goes to her toybox to get a toy for herself, Aspen will watch her very carefully, then take it from her. Of course, Goldie usually doesn't do anything unless she is in a playful mood, then she may play the tugging game to get it back from Aspen. Goldie has claim to only one toy, and that is her big stuffed puppy that she sucks on and carries around--Aspen will NOT touch this one!

Aspen is very selfish and quite the bully (which looks so silly because she is so much smaller than Goldie); however, Goldie has allowed her to be that way because Goldie has always given into Aspen's every whim. In addition, whenever Goldie hears Aspen whining, Goldie is there immediately to help her with whatever she needs, which usually is to get the ball from a hard-to-reach area or to open a door for her. I agree with you, that it is very intriguing to watch them think through things--they are so smart and are such joys :love:

Dog Dancer
September 14th, 2006, 12:24 PM
Goldens4Ever, Reading through this thread again I can't help but think of JMD and her struggles over the loss of Draco and whether to get another dog for her second dog (sorry I've had a moment here and forgotten the dogs name:rolleyes: ). I can't imagine what Halo will do if and when we lose Shadow. For several years Halo stayed home alone while Shadow went to doggy daycare but now Shadow is comfortable enough to stay outside during the day along with Halo while we're at work. They are literally inseperable. Shadow would probably be fine if Halo went first (I'm sure she'd mourn, but it's her people that she craves), but Halo - I can't bare to think of it. Her bond to Shadow is unbelievable. I've only probably ever had to yell at them twice to separate a fight that got going when rough play got carried away. Pets are sooooo great.

MaryAndDobes
September 14th, 2006, 02:57 PM
Any comments about Goldie's behavior with her stuffies?



It's a very common behaviour in certain families of Dobermans. They suck their toys or ball up their blankie into a suckie and then just zone out, sometimes kneading it as they suck. It is like a pacifier-type of activity, usually putting themselves to sleep. Some Dobermans take it further and are flank suckers, sucking on their own body so be glad it's inanimate objects she's interested in rather than mutilating herself because some dogs do take it that far.

It's not something I'd be concerned with. Some do it, some don't.

Goldens4Ever
September 14th, 2006, 07:20 PM
MaryandDobes,

Thanks for commenting about Goldie's sucking on her stuffies. It appears to be very soothing to her--she completely zones out, like you said. After Goldie is done sucking on it, she will bathe it just like she does Aspen (lick it all over). It is really funny to watch. She seems out of sync if she is without her stuffies.