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Pack mentality

(6 Posts)
User467 Tue 08-May-18 21:52:59

Ok so I know they're not a "pack" but my two dogs definitely have a different mentality when they are out together than when they are in their own

For background: dog 1........friendliest sole you ever could meet. Loves everyone and everything he meets out on walks and on his own has never shown anything but "please play" when out on walks. He is rarely off lead because 1. He's a terrier and although he has great recall it's only great 90% of the time and 2. He is overly friendly and I'm well aware not everyone likes my dog as much as I do.

Dog 2......coming up for 1 yr old. Bought as a much needed companion for dog 1 and they get on brilliantly. Not as sure about other dogs. Will give the occasional sniff but wouldn't generally prefer just to walk past. Doesn't like overly eager dogs bounding over and can get a bit snarly if they do.

Both dogs spend one day a week at doggy day care with a wide range of dogs and get on well there. Dog2 can sometimes get a bit bossy and is sometimes put on a time out with the bigger dogs as she can get a bit bossy with the wee dogs (I keep telling her she's a wee dog too but she refuses to believe me)

Anyway, my problem is when I walk both dogs together they have a completely different reaction to other dogs than when they are alone. I have put time in to walking them separately and tend to distract and treat when other dogs pass. dog2 seems to be okay meeting other dogs as long as I reassure her and it is limited to a quick sniff but she always ends the greeting with a snarly bark (she sounds more snarly than I think she really is). Dog1 on his own is literally everyone's best friend. But together I really struggle to let them meet other dogs. There's never been a fight or a bite, it is just noise rather than aggression but it's gettting more and more that if they are both with me, they will bark at passing dogs. I hate feeling like the owner with two snarly horrors when they're actually really not. Last week at the school gates where they normally love meeting all their pals, they just started barking and barking at this pup who was standing a few feet away. I'm particularly surprised by dog1s reaction......it's just not him!

So what am I missing? Is dog1 just reacting to dog2s uncertain body language? Is it just that they feel tougher being in a pair? I've reverted back to individual walks and again, totally fine but I no when I go back to joint walks the same will happen 😫

OP’s posts: |
Wolfiefan Tue 08-May-18 21:56:40

How about getting a really good behaviourist to come out? Or join dog training advice and support (think that's the name!) on FB. Free advice from actual behaviourists.
Dogs can be like kids. They can change their behaviour when around certain individuals. We had a smaller terrier who was full of attitude. As long as he had his big brother to back him up!!

Ylvamoon Wed 09-May-18 18:39:40

Are you more anxious when walking both dogs? They may react to how you are feeling about the situation. In their heads a it can be as simple as: " ... mum is tense / unsure / a bit scared we better do something about it! "

Than there are other questions you should ask: do you feel you can control both dogs? Will they come when called? How big are they? Can you hold them on the lead if they decide to pull/ run. How do you feel about other dogs / bikes / children approaching you when walking both dogs?
Wolfiefan is right, if you feel just a tiny bit tense get a good trainer / behaviourist to work with you and the dogs. your dogs are still young and training should be on going.

User467 Wed 09-May-18 22:44:45

I don't think I do feel tense at all walking both of them, certainly not that would have been the initial cause. I had 100% confidence with dog1 when meeting dogs and always allowed him to meet them asking as he was calm. I probably am tending to avoid greetings now when I have both of them but always try and keep lead loose and treat.

They are both small dogs so no concern re control and they are both great with people, kids, scooters etc.....never had a problem. It's just this "we're hard" attitude they get when they are together. I've had a dog in the past (childhood dog) who due to a number of reasons was reactive to dogs and showed aggression, you could see it in her body language, but this is different. I feel like dog2 has started it and now dog1 has joined in because it's fun!

We were away recently and sitting in a beer garden. We had our two and numerous dogs arrrived and left. There were spats between other dogs, dogs barking etc but I just kept their focus and gave treats and they lay happily at our feet . Perfect. Then another dog arrived and sat fairly close, I did the same treat etc and they seemed fine. Five minutes passed then all of a sudden dog2 starts barking like a maniac at this new dog which set dog1 off. Dog2 (the instigator) lead slipped and she ran at the other table all snarly. Once she got to them she stopped, gave the other dog a sniff, wagged her tail and proceeded to charm everyone for treats. I don't know what triggered her, obviously something, perhaps the other dog gave her a look but it was like she was just trying to act tough!

So it's not a major issue, there's been no actual aggression so far, just a lot of bravado, but it's something I want to nip in the bud.

I'm definitely going to go back to more individual walks and focus on her greeting of other dogs. Hopefully that will help 🤞

OP’s posts: |
SpanielsAreNuts Wed 09-May-18 23:06:00

That sounds very much like fear based aggression. It's a "I'll get you before you get me" type response. Then if the other dog doesn't react to your dog, she relaxes and says hello.

With your original dog - I think he joins in to protect her - like a "don't you dare think about hurting my sister" type response.

User467 Thu 10-May-18 01:01:50

Okay so if we assume her reaction is fear based what's the best approach? Walk her alone and allow/encourage greeting with other dogs (I'll ask the owners and explain) and treat while she is saying hello? Normally she will say hello okay as long as the other dog is calm and not overbearing. She'll be relaxed approaching the dog, have a sniff and a tail wag but just at the last moment as we're about to go she'll react (like she's saying okay I've been nice now F off).

I do think she reacts better to dogs giving clear messages. She goes to doggy day care and is off lead with a variety of different dogs. The day care owner says she is quite feisty and can be quite bossy with smaller dogs (although never to the point of actual aggression) and seems to respond better to bigger dogs or dogs that show her they are boss. The day care owners own dog took her under his wing and tends to keep her in line if she gets carried away (in a gentle way, it's very cute to see) and she is great with him.

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