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I'm afraid one of our dogs is bullying the other, and don't know what to do. (This is a bit long and detailed, sorry for that.)

Finlay is just over a year old. Bad foster situation before we got her, left her afraid of barky, aggressive dogs and people. She improved after we got her though she was still fairly shy with other dogs and people until she got to know them. In November we adopted Javva who's four, and Finlay instantly got more confident. She had still been nervous with my husband, but when she saw Javva being comforted by him, she suddenly became best friends with him and Javva became my buddy!

Jav was underweight and newly neutered, then sick with infection, poor guy. After a few weeks an as he was feeling better, they started playing - I watched carefully knowing that Jav had been badly attacked by dogs before we got him. Fin was gentle, started with 'corn nibbling' all over Javva, then Jav would roll over and Fin would nibble his tummy, then his neck, then gentle-biting his neck, his ears, and head, playbowing in between, clearly trying to get him to play.

While Fin was always the aggressor and Jav always rolled onto his back, they seemed to enjoy eachother. They'd cuddle together to sleep, touch noses, all good. I was careful to avoid jealous situations as I'd occasionally see a 'look' from Fin when I was petting Jav, and was always equal with them.

About 2 months later they were playing more, all was great. Fin is super energetic - chases toys, etc - while Jav doesn't play on his own or with me, and I hoped that eventually Jav would play on his own - Javva is very sweet and gentle. One day they were being playful and started wrestling more, and I videoed them. They gently were rolling around when suddenly Jav shrieked, and held his arm up. I went to him and he kept shrieking over and over, but his arm seemed fine. I took him to another room and held him until he stopped - it seemed almost like he'd freaked out, I wondered if it was panic?

I reviewed the video and nothing happened to his arm in it. Fin had leaped from one side of him to the other and he rolled over fast, and Fin was over top of him when he pulled his arm up and started crying. I had the vet check his arm to be sure, and she said maybe he'd twisted or sprained it momentarily but nothing was wrong, and agreed that it could be nervousness if he wasn't used to friendly playing with another dog after the past attacks.

Over the next weeks they didn't play much, but Finlay would occasionally try. When we'd come home from the last walk at night, they'd run down the hall without leashes; Fin would get to the door first and turn and run back at him, grabbing him. Sometimes when we'd get inside he'd run through the kitchen and she'd run round the dining room an through the other kitchen door right to Jav, and 'check' him into the cupboards. I changed up our routine so this would stop and it's worked (they now get a treat for sitting nice when we come in).

I've wondered if Jav is now nervous to be alone with Fin as he'll come to me any time I leave the room, after about a minute or two. I've videoed them a few times when I'm not there and sometimes, as soon as I've left and she's heard the door, she'll start jumping around him, playbow, and try to get him to play, but the minute she hears the door she sits nice and be all "nothing to see here, I'm being a good dog". So, she knows it's not 'right' to push him.

Today I set up the video and went to have a longer shower. They were sleeping for 30 minutes, then I took them outside quick, then went back to do my hair, checking them from the hall occasionally (they'd both be staring at me innocently). A few times Javva came in to see me then left, everything looked fine when I looked in on them, until the last time, when I'd heard something and went to check. Javva was cowering in the corner of the couch, Finlay standing next to him. I hurried over and Javva was frozen, shaking violently, holding his arm up. His muzzle was wet, as were his ears.

The video was awful to watch. :( At one point Fin jumping over Javva - trying for play. He didn't play, but Finlay did a lot of neck biting, arm-biting, an muzzle holding (while growling at him, like she'd do with a toy), all while Javva layed there. Then I'd walked in to check and they looked fine, sitting nicely on the couch.

5 minutes later Jav stood up to leave and Fin jumped down and jumped back up AT him, knocking him over. Then jumped around him, and did the biting/holding of his ears, muzzle, neck, all while growling. Jav tried to get away and cowered until he was in the corner while Finlay did this. Jav jumped at her once defensively, and Finlay went manic, racing around the room, on/off the couch in a frantic state as she'll sometimes do when we've come in from a walk and she's excited.

When Finlay 'bites' she's not biting to break skin, but play-bites. However clearly Javva's not into it, and the way Finlay held his muzzle appears to be a dominance issue. It was scary to see, and Javva is terrified.

I don't know what to do. I'd love if Jav played back like before but clearly he's afraid to, and he shouldn't be afraid in his own home. I need to be able to leave them alone - I work from home but do need to be able to go out sometimes, and am afraid to now. Finlay needs to lay the heck off, but I don't know how to ensure that other than locking them into different rooms, which will just bring back Fin's separation anxiety, or Javva's.

Right now I've put Finlay into the bedroom where she's sleeping, but she'd much rather be out here with us. I don't like punishing and prefer positive reinforcement, but don't know how to do that with this. Please help. :(
 

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It's been an hour and I've just let Finlay out of the bedroom. They touched noses and are both wagging their tails, so Javva's not scared of Finlay, but I'm sure that would change if they were left alone and Finlay wanted more play action. :(
 

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So, she knows it's not 'right' to push him.
I wouldn't say she knows it not right. More likely she you will stop/correct her when she plays rough.

A lot of this sounds like Vegas and Freyja. Freyja wants to play with him, but he doesn't want to play. So she jumps around him, play bows and mouths his neck and face. Vegas will growl and snap at her but she seems to think it's part of the game. The more he growls the more she jumps until he kind of huddles into himself. I always step and and stop her. Sometimes redirecting onto a tug toy or doing some obedience. She is actually doing it less and less, but still when she gets really excited. Can you crate one or both when you have to go out? Put the crates together so they are close? or baby gates? I would separate them when you can't supervise and them in a few months see how they do.
 
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Can you crate one or both when you have to go out? Put the crates together so they are close? or baby gates? I would separate them when you can't supervise and them in a few months see how they do.
I've set up the video a few times, and literally in the 2.5 minutes I'm gone to the bathroom, she'll spend 1.5 minutes 'playing' with him, the little bugger. So crating them each time would be tough, and disruptive - as it is I only leave when they're curled up asleep. I do leave the door open a few inches and Javva will sometimes come hurrying in, so I think that's when Fin's at him, though she's also gone at him just because he's run after me, at first I thought she was just enforcing the 'stay', lol.

They both have anxiety issues and I'd worked it out of Finlay before getting Javva, but it's back and Javva has it badly. So one of my priorities is slipping out the door for few minutes at a time without saying anything, and coming back as though nothing happened. So separating them would negate all that.

I flip back and forth between thinking "it's just normal playing and they'll figure it out" and "oh gosh, poor sweet Javva is being terrorized!". He spent the afternoon snuggled up with her, but of course that's when she's not being scary. He's been through a tough enough life that I don't want him in any distress again, and while he'll have to endure the torture of having his nails done ;), I really want him to feel safe in his own home.
 
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