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New boston puppy (really little) + older BT - ROUGH PLAY??

February 8th, 2011, 03:11 PM
HI! I just rescued a new little Boston Terrier pup (6 months old) named Frankie this saturday and we already have a 5-yr old Boston, Jeff. Jeff is what my vet considers a large Boston - 27 lbs (all muscle!). Frankie must have been the runt of the litter and is about the size of Jeff's head and neck! She is not going to the vet till next week so I don't know her exact weight, but she's tiny. Jeff is a very well-mannered dog, but is a bit spoiled. We confine Jeff to the kitchen during the day (the vet says this is equivalent to crating, but with a tiny bit more freedom). The puppy is in a crate. Jeff sleeps with us at night and has been allowed to go on the couch. We have 2 young kids as well - 2 & 4. Jeff is SO low key that we never had a problem with him being on the couch. The problem here is that we would like her off the couch because the kids don't like the puppy scratches. Also, I have a question about rough play...

One question: The pup is jumpy and we would like to keep her off the couch, but it is CONSTANT - every 5 seconds, we are pushing her feet down, saying "off" and it all begins again. It's endless and she doesn't seem to get the message. Then, as soon as we get up to go get a drink for the kids, etc, she's back up. Any suggestions?

Second (and more important) Problem: The 2 dogs play. That's great. However, Jeff is SO much larger than the puppy that we don't know if he might hurt her. He pins her down a lot and it looks like he's biting her ears off (yet she doesn't yelp at it) and tackles her a lot. She typically goes into a beta pose - right over on to her back to expose her belly to Jeff. As soon as I have Jeff get off of her, she comes right back for more. The play has escalated to a yelp or two from the puppy, but usually right back for more again. Sometimes, she will run over to me and looks like she wants me to pick her up and "save her" from Jeff, but then I usually just tell Jeff to sit and calm down and he usually listens.

I am not sure if I am too concerned. Jeff will back down whenever we ask him sternly, but I am not sure if we need to. Can he hurt her? Should we let them go?

She did snap a few times at him aggressively last night because Jeff came within 5 ft of her food. Jeff seemed pretty upset and afraid of her for a 1/2 hr or so, but then they played and made up later last night. We are now making sure that she is completely separated while eating and my husband has been putting his hands by her mouth while she's eating - no reaction. As soon as Jeff is in sight, she goes crazy! Jeff doesn't even try to get her food, he's just standing there! Anyway, we can address that easily, I think.

Any advice on the other stuff would be GREATLY appreciated!

February 8th, 2011, 03:33 PM
I had a very serious issue with food once. I was feeding my well balanced dog (so I thought) and my friends floppy puppy started to run around him. Well he cornered the pup in his own crate and grabbed her ear and wouldn't let go and bit my husband who got in the way. I was very worried for the pups safety after that. I've since introduced a new dog to him my own, and with caution and lots of time to learn respect for each other they now eat in the same room.

February 9th, 2011, 01:15 AM
The couch:
I think that one of the best solutions to stopping a behavior is putting both extremes on cue (e.g. a bark and quiet, a jump up and an off). This way the dog clearly understands what you are asking of them.
Start by luring your pup to jump up on something other than the couch (like a footstool). Give them something awesome. Now, lure them to jump down again. Proceed with another something awesome. When you know they will reliably follow your lure up and off the stool, add the commands you want to use. Fade the lure and continue reinforcing the behavior. Start changing the object they are to jump on and off of (dogs don't generalize) and work up to the couch so that by the time you get there the command is bomb proof.
When she tries to jump on the couch she is doing it to try to engage you. The next step is teaching her that this is not the way to get your attention. When she tries to jump on you (when you are on the couch) you should get off the couch and ignore her and turn away for a split second, then ask her gently to get off. When she does, praise her extravagantly and start playing with her. When she jumps up when you are out of the room, ask her for the off and offer her much praise and play when she complies. She will learn that being on the floor means play and good things, while jumping on the couch gets her no reward.
In addition, I might also suggest a bed/soft place of her own next to the couch (most small short coated dogs like soft areas) that she can be strongly encouraged to use as a replacement.

The play:
I wouldn't worry. Boston's are fairly rough-and-tumble dogs. It sounds like your pup is learning good social signals from the older boy (it's really important for pups to learn an "I've had enough" cue for other dogs). Puppies are usually very vocal about things getting too rough/scary. If she is only yelping a bit and going back for more . . . :thumbs up. I also think it's a good idea for you to keep practicing breaking them up for a few seconds. They will learn to stop when you ask and that stopping for a few seconds does not mean an end to the game (this will give you more control over their interactions - with each other or other dogs).

Resource guarding:
She is trying to guard her food from your other dog. My suggestion would be to de-sensitize her to your other dog being around her while she eats. Start hand feeding (one piece at a time) and establish a non-reactive distance for your boy. Gradually bring him closer and closer (they should both be on leash) and continue to feed and praise her for giving no reaction. As soon as she starts to react remove the food and give a no reward marker like "oops." Keep your boy at that distance or a little below it and only feed for calm behavior. Keep working until you can feed them both side by side, interspersing some "jackpot" yums for continued good behavior. Until you are absolutely sure that she is over her reaction, carefully monitor all food intake-she only eats for good behavior around him. Reactive behavior means that food is removed (just until she calms down). If she is having a bit of trouble, ask her for a behavior she knows well (like a sit) to shift her focus.

February 9th, 2011, 09:52 AM
The problem here is that we would like her off the couch because the kids don't like the puppy scratches.

The kids will get puppy scratches whether it's on or off the couch. That's what happens when you have kids and puppies... the kids need to learn boundaries as well.

There are many good books out there for training. It depends on the specifics that you are looking for. There are a lot of very knowledgeable people here. I'm sure someone will come along with some great advice.