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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
When I come home to visit my parents (which I am now), I have been noticing these random weird interactions between Loki and one of my parent's dogs, Boo the Cavachon.

Generally my dogs get along really well with both of my parents dogs. Loki met them when he was a puppy and they have always coexisted nicely and seem excited to see eachother, although they don't play much because both are older (Boo is 6, but just isn't super energetic).

Boo doesn't seem to have a lot of interest in interacting with any of the other 3 dogs, but she does occasaionlly take bones or other chews and she hovers while the other dogs are eating. There have been no negative consequences of this so far, although I have seen my parent's other dog snap at her and Loki had growled at her once.

The last time I came to visit I noticed Loki doing this weird thing where he follows Boo around and stares and her and then kindof "muzzle slams" her face. He knocks his mouth against her's like he is trying to lick her but doesn't. This happens when there is a desired item in the vicinity or when there is not... The video I took is with a couple of pieces of leftover food on the ground from breakfast.

I don't really know how to interpret the body language here because it is pretty subtle. My impression is that Loki is threatened by Boo because she takes toys and hovers around his bowl, so he is trying to make displays of strength? Also, because they don't have much of a relationship besides occasionally sharing the same large house, he doesn't have any connection to her beyond some minor frustration with her obsession with "his" things, so he doesn't keep his minor displays of (aggression?) in check.

I'm really not sure. I just feel like this could be the precursors of some difficulty in their relationship and I want to step in before one of them snaps at the other.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zGTxYytg94M
 

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Beautiful dogs!

I'm much less experienced than everyone else here but IMO it looks like Loki is definitely nervous of Boo.

To me, it really doesn't look like he's trying to show strength at all. In fact, I'd say quite the opposite.

He seems to walk away as soon as Boo shows interest in the food he was considering eating. Also, isn't mouth nudging usually a submission thing to say.. "hey, I'm not a threat, you're in control"? Loki even has a bit of a yawn when Boo steps away & later stands still on the far side to allow Boo to walk freely around him.

He's also keeping his head pretty low vs. standing up tall and proud.
 

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There's tension there, from my first watch of the video. The muzzle thing sounds like muzzle punching and is definitely not great. I would manage the environment and make sure they are not interacting when there is food or valuable items involved.

Watched the video again and I noticed the smaller dog staring at the larger dog, which sends the larger dog away from the food. Then when he comes back and is sniffing(?) the spot on the ground the smaller dog freezes for a moment, maybe even holds his/her breathe, hard to tell. Then looks away and walks away. There are plenty of signs of stress and avoidance behaviors there. The smaller dog does a lot of sniffing the ground when the larger dog is hovering, even once the food is gone, another sign of stress.

I agree that if left to their own devices and the environment is not managed there could be issues in the future.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
No, he isn't muzzle punching her. Or at least, if he is it is different than what I have been taught is typical muzzle punching. He g
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Oops! Incomplete...

He usually greets people/dogs he likes by putting his face in the corner of their mouth. It's a puppy thing, he is asking for food! It seems like he is doing the same thing with Boo but he follows her and doesn't do it exclusively when greeting.

I don't know who needs to be addressed in regards to the tension here. Aggression is definitely not a good word, I appreciate your use of a better one. I don't know if I need to address the behaviors or work more on relationship building. I have been taking them on walks together without the other dogs, but I am only home for a week or two at a time and I worry that the next time I come home it could be worse.

My fear is that this will escalate to a point where I can't bring Loki home with me or he has to be under constant supervision.

Or, I maybe be interpreting this incorrectly.
 

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Okay, cool I get what you're saying. Glad it isn't muzzle punching. :)

I would teach both dogs a positive interrupter like "leave it" so when they are getting in each other's space you can interrupt the behavior and redirect them to other things, or separate as needed. I can email you a handout on teaching a positive interrupter if you are interested, if you want to PM me. Do you clicker train?

I think with managing them and teaching an interrupter cue it's possible that they could continue to be around each other. It's hard to say without being there though, and you know your dogs best. I would watch each dog and figure out what their go-to signs of stress are so you can read them and intervene as necessary.

If you have any doubts I would recommend contacting a local trainer who specializes in behavior modification, who uses positive reinforcement, and no aversives, of course. It's good that you are noticing now before they have had a problem. Many people wait until a fight before attempting to modify the behavior. A trainer who is there can better help you figure out what each dog needs to be successful and should be able to help them start having rewarding experiences around each other.
 
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