- Pet forum for dogs cats and humans 


Ok, now my puppy is becoming very assertive.

April 13th, 2008, 09:25 PM
I have a puppy who is just under 5 months old. He weighs about 19 pounds, and is a mix of hound and something else. He looks a lot like a redbone coonhound. He has already been neutered (the shelter did this very early).

Anyway, when we picked him up from the shelter, he was pretty shy. He took some time to get used to us, so we assumed he would be relatively passive.

After taking him home, he quickly warmed up. This is when he started showing some very worrysome assertive behavior.

1. He started with aggressive growling and snapping over rawhides.
2. He continued with loud growling and lots of play fighting with our older dog (1 year old)
3. He then started to get possessive about favorite toys, and would growl about those.
4. He has now started to get possessive about food, and will growl/snap at my older dog if she bothers him while eating.

In all of these circumstances, he is ONLY aggressive towards my older dog. He has never growled, even once, at me or my wife for taking his food, toys, or rawhides. Even his very favorite rawhide can be removed without much hassle. But if my other dog bothers him, he starts to get upset.

Things have now progressed to where he tries to mount my older dog. He is only 5 months, and less than half her size, so its very strange to me to see him do this.

What can I do??

I have never dealt with an assertive dog, so help would be greatly appreciated!

April 13th, 2008, 09:29 PM
How does your older dog react to all these dominance behaviors of your pup? And how does your pup react to strange dogs?

April 13th, 2008, 09:33 PM
How does your older dog react to all these dominance behaviors of your pup? And how does your pup react to strange dogs?

My older dog seems blissfully unaware of the "problem"

With regard to the play fight, she instigates at least 50% of the interactions. She is very playful, and since she is still considerably larger than he is, generally controls the "play fighting"

With regard to the possessive behavior, she reacts in different ways:
-With rawhides, she will take away the rawhide if she can. Otherwise, he runs around trying to avoid her and growling. We usually stop this before it has a chance to play out

-With toys, she definately takes it away. She seems to think its a game, and LOVEs to play tug-of-war. She'll take it away and then shove it back in his face

-With food, she will wait until he's done. If she's eating, she'll usually leave if he approaches. If she wants to play while he's eating and he growls, we usually separate them immediately

The pup has been very friendly with children and strange dogs so far. We were going to wait until he was about 6 months to sign him up for obedience school, so his only interaction with strange dogs is on walks.

We also have 2 cats, which he pretty much ignores.

April 13th, 2008, 10:35 PM
Personally, those sound like pretty normal responses to me. I have 3 dogs, 2 males and a female (all fixed).

I only give mine rawhide or other bones when I'm there to supervise because fights can occur over the bones. I don't allow my dogs to "steal" bones from each other and if it was me, I'd tell the older one to leave him alone and chew her own. If there is too much tension at my house with bones down, I claim them as my mine, pick them up and put them away til a later time.

Feeding is the same. My 3 eat pretty close together but I hang around and supervise and they are not allowed to bother each other while they eat. When one is finished, they can not go bully the next guy for his meal. Even though mine are "normally" fine when they eat, I still hang around to enforce the law!

The toy stuff sounds like normal dog play. Mine are constantly trying to grab toys from each other and tug like crazy. I let that go as long as it doesn't get out of hand.

He sounds pretty normal to me =) Obedience class is still a great idea!!

April 13th, 2008, 10:56 PM
I agree that it all sounds pretty normal :)

I would just be careful to do things like feed your older dog first and make puppy wait a minute before his bowl goes down - he needs to learn the pack order, and that's you and family, then older dog, then him.

If puppy is being especially grabby/pushy, I would make mysef "big" and growl at him, to tell him he has no place being snippy over toys and the like. Maybe also practice playing tug with him with you always "winning" to teach him how to play nicely and not get out of hand playing with people or other dogs.

Just be careful not to misinterpret play as pup growls and sounds quite mean when he plays - it's just how he talks - but as soon as he knows the game is over he is completely submissive and gentle. If your pup is getting out of hand, the other dogs at puppy class and/or the dog park will let him know very quickly he is out of line. I have found that other dogs teach puppies a lot more about boundaries than humans really do! If your older dog really becomes bothered by your pup's behavuour, she will probably not hesitate to tell him!

April 13th, 2008, 11:04 PM
I agree that it sounds like fairly normal behavior. When there's rawhide around we have to separate some of ours and do some supervising. We also feed them in groups whose members we know will get along with each other without moving in on the others' food. So that part of the behavior is fairly common--some dogs just are bolder than others in that department. If he's stealing her food, feed them in separate rooms.

Adult dogs will discipline a younger dog that is acting out of line. Since your older dog doesn't seem too put off by the behavior, I'd say she finds his behavior acceptable. It may mean that he'll be ruling the roost at home, at least as far as your older girl goes, but it doesn't sound like she'd finding it too annoying yet. Eventually, as he gets bigger, she may start putting him in his place. It may look severe when it happens, but try not to overreact--she needs to know that it's okay if she puts him down once or twice. It's how they work out status in the Pack. We have eight and generally, as long as it's not getting bloody, we don't interfere when they enforce rank amongst themselves. Generally they end up settling things very amicably.

Having said all that, obedience classes are a great idea! It won't help in how your pup is relating to your older dog, but it will help in how you relate to your pup and that can make all the difference in the world! :thumbs up