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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 19676
Experience:  Behaviorist /Trainer and Dog breeder 18+ years
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I currently have 3 dogs (All female) A Boston Terrier/Frenchie

Customer Question

Hi- I currently have 3 dogs (All female) A Boston Terrier/Frenchie Mix 2 years old, a Pug Mix, and a new 'hound' mix.. maybe.. the hound mix is a new puppy… very kind and playful, everything seemed to be going great for a while, the Boston and the new puppy play constantly or what I believe to be play at least.. they play chase in the yard (Boston always wins) One issue is My 2 year old Boston won't share toys very well.. she doesn't get aggressive over them normally but will constantly steal what the puppy has.. They play rough at times.. jumping up on one another, headlocks, mouthing, etc.. which I assume to be all good play as long as no one is in an aggressive state or stance I usually let it go on… but the last few days my Boston has been doing something I don't like, and I don't know if it is normal, or aggressive behavior.. when they are playing they seem fine, but then my boston will bit the puppies neck, which usually is fine, but lately she's been latching on and pulling the pup by the neck and sometimes shaking.. the boston does not growl while this is going on no hair sticking up or anything, but if the puppy lets out a little yelp or whine the boston does not stop, unless I break it up, or 'yell' .. No blood ever or anything like that.. but I do not know if this is normal or if this is the beginning of aggressive behavior.. I do not want anyone to get hurt, and this puppy will be much larger then the boston one day.. pup is only 4 1/2 months now and is already taller.. but any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.. I want them to be able to play, but I don't want anyone developing aggressive behavior.. Thank you
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 2 years ago.
Hi JaCustomer,
My name is ***** ***** I’ve been involved professionally with dogs in the health and behavioral fields for over 18 years. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.
In order to supply you with an informed answer, it is necessary for me to collect some additional information from you. When I receive your response or reply, it will likely take me between 30-45 minutes to type up my reply if I am still online when I receive notice that you replied. I hope you can be patient.
What obedience training has the Boston had?
Have you started any obedience training with the hound pup?
Are any of the dogs spayed?
Is the puppy screaming or just yelping or whining?
Is the pup on its back when this happens or standing when she latches on to the neck?
Have you been monitoring the dogs before this happened? If so what was going on right before she grabs the pups neck and shakes?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi- the 2 year old Boston mix is spayed.. The Older pug mix is not spayed (she is 9) and does not get involved in the play but will growl at puppy if the pup goes too far with her.. I don't believe the pug is an issue at all as she stays out of it.. the puppy not yet spayed but will be within the month… The Boston went through a Puppy Kindergarten class when she was younger.. did well in the class, but seems to have forgotten much.. She is a very sweet girl but deals with some anxiety issues at times.. mostly fear of things like the television, things outside, etc.. its not awful but she is anxious at times.. The puppy is currently in a PK course we've only gone through one week so far with the second class being tomorrow night.. When the boston latches on.. it is usually outside, and usually when puppy is laying down during play being submissive (I think) but also sometimes it happens inside during what seems like a play session when they are up putting each other in "head locks" she will grab the neck and try and pull" the puppy lets out a very low pitched whine, not a loud snark, or cry.. before she does this.. it seems like play to me, but I can tell at times the boston gets annoyed when the pup wants to play too much so I don't know if she's becoming aggressive or this is just a normal part of the play..

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for the additional information. It is helpful. It is very difficult to determine if the Boston is becoming aggressive, showing her dominance or teaching the pup manners without seeing it in person. It might also be a combination.
The first thing to realize is that the Boston would be higher in the pack order than the pup. However, non spayed animals are automatically higher ranking as adults then spayed dogs. Thus the Boston would be higher now, but since the pup is not yet spayed, she would know that her position in the pack is going to change. This can cause some issues between dogs.
The pup doesn't realize this yet, but it won't be that long before the pup feels she should be higher in the pack order since she is not spayed and is larger and likely stronger. So you may want to head this off by spaying the pup sooner rather than later. This may keep her lower in the pack and avoid more serious altercations in the future.
In addition, it is the older dogs job to help teach the pup bite inhibition and how to act around other dogs. She would teach the pup how hard is too hard by reprimanding her if she bites too hard. This could result in a more serious growl and a harder than normal bite or shake to show the younger dog they had pushed her too far.
Adult dogs tolerate behavior from pups that they wouldn't from older dogs, so as the pup matures, the adults perform more reprimands to help shape how the pup will react with other adult dogs. A reprimand is given when the pup gets out of hand, bites too hard or exhibits behavior that wouldn't be acceptable as an adult dog. I suspect that is what is going on now since the pup is maturing into an adult pretty quickly. In addition, since the pup is going to be larger, the Boston may be a little rougher than normal to "remind" the pup that she is higher in the pack than the pup. So you can see why it is a little difficult to know for sure without seeing the behavior first hand and knowing the interactions.
What can help is understanding body language and how it can indicate one thing one minute and the whole TONE of the interaction can change very quickly. Here are some sites that discuss body language.
My initial reaction is that this is likely play behavior and helping teach the pup manners. However, if blood should be drawn or the pup starts to retaliate, then you are going to be having issues. My recommendations would be spaying the hound, stay on top of the pup's obedience training being sure to practice daily and refresh the Boston's obedience training. Let me give you a good site that goes over training. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.
Training works best if you train at least 30 minutes a day (two 15 minute sessions). I would start making your dog work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It is outlined below.
The training should help you control the dogs and stop any unwanted behavior as the pup matures. She is likely going to stop playing as much when she gets closer to a year of age anyway. I would not interfere in the playing unless blood is drawn. It is ok to give a verbal reprimand when the pup yelps but don't get too involved. At that point, leash them so you can get their attention and reprimand them, so they know what behavior you find unacceptable.
If you are still worried, then perhaps having a professional IN PERSON behaviorist come in and evaluate the situation since they can witness the body language and interactions. You can usually find a behaviorist by asking your Vet for a recommendation or you may be able to find one using the following site.
I hope this information is helpful to you. If you need more information or clarification, please reply and I'll get back to you as soon as possible. If you are satisfied, please take the opportunity to rate.

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