Poodle Forum banner

1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
29 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Can anyone give me any insight into why a 4 month old pup would play beautifully with certain dogs and be intent on going in for a scrap with others?

The first dog this happened with was at puppy pre-school. He was fine with the 4 other pups there but whenever one pup came up he just pinned her down and growled at her until I removed him.

Since then he has continued to meet other dogs and at obedience he has played well with most of the dogs but then yesterday he also went in for a scrap with a young labrador female.

Dogs he has played beautifully with:
Labradoodles x2
Border collie adult
German shephard adult
Cattle dog adult
Mini poodle pup
Fox terrier pups x2
Mini mixed breed pup
Great dane x kelpie pup

Dogs he has been intent on scrapping with:
Labrador pup
Boxer pup

I am at a loss as I can't predict who he will like and who he won't as he gives no indication and actually looks eager to play but then decides he wants to scrap instead.
Yesterday with the labrador his tail was wagging the whole time but it was NOT friendly play.

The other dogs are not doing anything to provoke him from what I can tell.

Argh.

I have a trainer I can talk to about this as we do obedience classes but thought the poodly people might have some insight.

I was always under the impression poodles were great with other dogs but since starting research and discussing this with others they say poodles are vicious and aggressive.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
1,811 Posts
None of my poodles, with the slight exception of Snarky, have been dog aggressive. They were all very bouncy, and their enthusiasm would often be considered rude by other dogs. Sometimes another dog would take offense rather pointedly.

Snarky was rather insecure and would snipe at other dogs. However, he was far too craven to stand his ground. His style was to nip and run.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,833 Posts
Misha will go after some young puppies in a manner that appears aggressive but is not actually aggression. Puppies that are overly submissive can be extremely exciting to other dogs because they are weak and easily bullied. So Misha gets so excited about his ability to dominate a submissive puppy that he gets pushy and growly. So it may be similar for your dog in that he is picking on those that are more submissive. When Misha does this I remove him and work on calming him and getting his focus on something else.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
6,374 Posts
Peggy has done this one time that I can recall. We did a second session of puppy classes, and by the last class, she was suddenly very much into the start of adolescence. She pinned one puppy and our trainer immediately intervened and asked us to spend the last 15 minutes in the yard. (Will never forget the sight of poor, too-big Peggy, playing alone outside while the puppies continued inside. Lol.) We then joined an adolescent session and had no more problems.

I think it's just important that playmates are well matched at that age, while they continue to learn manners. And at any age, it's important not to expect your dog to want to play with every dog she meets.

Labs and Goldens, for example, can be a little obtuse, which sensitive, social poodles don't like. Peggy didn't pin him, but she recently took issue with a very pushy Golden boy. The average onlooker would have thought he was being "friendly." But he was actually ignoring all of her polite social signals. So the situation escalated.

I've also encountered some obstinate little terriers that don't make great playmates for a poodle. If a dog feels very little pain, or is allowed to get over-adrenalized (which is common for high-energy dogs in dog parks, as their humans are just happy they're entertaining themselves for a while), play can get out of hand very quickly.

You want the play session to look like a lovely dance, with lots of give-and-take. The dogs should mirror one another: One dog pounces. The other rolls. Now that dog pounces and the other dog rolls. Maybe one dog yelps in surprise when a tooth catches an ear, but the other is quick to back off and offer up a play bow... Such fun to watch! And so much of it is exquisitely subtle.

You were right to break up the play sessions when you did. So many owners don't, and the dogs not only learn bad manners, they learn their humans don't have their backs. Personally, I want my dog to look to me for help if the situation is not comfortable. With the rude Golden, Peggy clearly communicated to me that he was not being a very nice playmate, but I was being silly and didn't want to offend his owner.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
29 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Misha will go after some young puppies in a manner that appears aggressive but is not actually aggression. Puppies that are overly submissive can be extremely exciting to other dogs because they are weak and easily bullied. So Misha gets so excited about his ability to dominate a submissive puppy that he gets pushy and growly. So it may be similar for your dog in that he is picking on those that are more submissive. When Misha does this I remove him and work on calming him and getting his focus on something else.
It looks like he is just being a bully.
But then the smaller dogs he's played with he has been so gentle and polite it's very strange.

Maybe it is the submissive ones and he is just making a big show of being tough. It makes me really not like him. He is 100% the instigator in these scraps, the other dog is clearly showing submission once he gets aggressive and he just wants to ram the point home by standing over and growling.

Having said that the two dogs he's disliked have been very lungy and bouncy, also barking at him to begin with. Maybe they just rub him the wrong way and he isn't backward in telling them about it.

He doesn't appear to have the intent to actually use his teeth on the other dog but he will keep going with the growling and barking til I remove him.

sigh
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
6,374 Posts
It looks like he is just being a bully.
But then the smaller dogs he's played with he has been so gentle and polite it's very strange.

Maybe it is the submissive ones and he is just making a big show of being tough. It makes me really not like him. He is 100% the instigator in these scraps, the other dog is clearly showing submission once he gets aggressive and he just wants to ram the point home by standing over and growling.

Having said that the two dogs he's disliked have been very lungy and bouncy, also barking at him to begin with. Maybe they just rub him the wrong way and he isn't backward in telling them about it.

He doesn't appear to have the intent to actually use his teeth on the other dog but he will keep going with the growling and barking til I remove him.

sigh
The dogs are barking at him? Then he is really not the instigator. Does he look away from them? Lick his lips? Air snap?

Peggy has zero tolerance for dogs that bark at her. But she will cycle through calming signals before taking it up a notch. These signals can occur in the span of seconds, but a well-socialized dog will receive them loud and clear and respond accordingly.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,833 Posts
I agree it sounds like he is trying to issue a correction and just taking it a bit far because he is young and inexperienced. Remember that dog language is complex and dog interaction differs greatly from human interaction. It is extremely natural for dogs to pick on weak members that are very submissive. It doesn't make your dog mean. It is just the social interaction of dogs. Your objective should be to learn the signs that your dog is bothered and step in to remove him from the situation before he has to act out. If a dog is barking at him and irritating him, call him to you and take him elsewhere. You want him to learn to rely on you to settle disputes. If his behavior is irritating another dog, you want to remove him before the dog loses tolerance. If he is corrected appropriately by a dog, do not baby him. If he corrects a dog appropriately, support him.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
29 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
I agree it sounds like he is trying to issue a correction and just taking it a bit far because he is young and inexperienced. Remember that dog language is complex and dog interaction differs greatly from human interaction. It is extremely natural for dogs to pick on weak members that are very submissive. It doesn't make your dog mean. It is just the social interaction of dogs. Your objective should be to learn the signs that your dog is bothered and step in to remove him from the situation before he has to act out. If a dog is barking at him and irritating him, call him to you and take him elsewhere. You want him to learn to rely on you to settle disputes. If his behavior is irritating another dog, you want to remove him before the dog loses tolerance. If he is corrected appropriately by a dog, do not baby him. If he corrects a dog appropriately, support him.
Thanks.
I never considered that was he is doing might be a correction.
I guess I am so focussed on his behaviour I didn't think about the other dogs behaviour.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
23,603 Posts
Dogs are always talking to us and to each other. We mostly just aren't very good at reading their body language and often ver quick and subtle cues. I promise if you watch carefully you will learn how to make predictions and know who to stay away from and who will be a good playmate (but even in good play always watch because things can turn on a dime). If another dog is approaching yours and is also: looking with direct eye contact with alert not soft eyes; approaching directly and face forward; approaching with body straight; has a tight mouth and or tight back pinned ears or is not under good control by the handler then STEER CLEAR!!! If you are ever approached by a person being dragged along by a high energy over the top sort of a dog who shouts at you "it's okay she just wants to play (or he's friendly) tell the person that your dog isn't so friendly or that you are training or that your dog is recovering from an illness or injury (whatever) and let the other person know in no uncertain terms you are not going to let your dog greet theirs.

A good play partner for your dog will show soft eyes (looking a bit sleepy in some ways) and will have an averted glance with the head to one side and also will curve their approach and even their body as they approach you and your dog. If the other dog seems uncertain/mildly nervous it will often sit or lie down with a side facing/distance increasing posture. If you allow your dog to approach slowly with similar body language it should help relax the other dog and that may be sufficient to lead to a nice interaction.

I highly recommend two books that can help us as handlers to read our dogs' body language better. One is the skinny book called On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas. The photographs are excellent at demonstrating these signals and the text has excellent suggestions and techniques on how to use them to advantage. The other book is Canine Body Language: A Photographic Guide to the Native Language of Dogs by Brenda Aloff. Brenda's Book is like an encyclopedia with numerous photos of all sorts of dog interactions and analysis of how to understand them along with photos where you can practice your skills for reading many possible interactive dog scenariaos. Both books are available through dogwise.com (the publisher).
 
  • Like
Reactions: PeggyTheParti

·
Registered
Joined
·
375 Posts
Lily, I have both of those books. Good call.

Also, a study done on watching dogs in parks found certain breeds got into more scraps with dogs, even though they were acting politely. Cut off ears and cut tails (boxers, Dobermanns) look more aggressive. No tail to wag, ears look menacing. Consider this because the dog may look impolite or aggressive to another dog. Also, puppies taken too early from their mother don't learn proper etiquette and have to be trained how to approach another dog.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
23,603 Posts
Michigan Gal, yes some breeds are going to be hard to read because of cropped ears and docked tails. You also have to keep in mind that hard eyes can be a challenge in herding breeds because of how they work. Peeves has been misread by other dogs because they find him staring at them to be rude.

Those books are really great.
 
  • Like
Reactions: PeggyTheParti

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
6,374 Posts
Peggy was at her weekly playdate yesterday, and I found myself carefully studying their play style. It was just her and The Briard, who she's known since was a puppy, so theirs is a beautifully choreographed dance.

What stood out to me the most was that they never antagonized each other, not even when their adrenaline was high. Each round of play began with a clear invitation, however fleeting: A play bow, but not always a deep one. You could easily miss it.

I love this video, which I think we've discussed here before:
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
23,603 Posts
The great thing about videos is that you can replay them many times and will almost always see new things in them.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
6,374 Posts
Interestingly, until last week, The Briard's eyes were covered by her hair. For humans, this would surely lead to misunderstandings. But maybe this actually improved her relationship with Peggy.

The great thing about videos is that you can replay them many times and will almost always see new things in them.
Yes! And slow-motion is a huge help. My human brain just cannot pick out the nuance otherwise, though I'm trying to get better at it.

Catherine, are poodles known for being peacekeepers during play sessions? I jokingly call Peggy "The Referee"—partly because she's black and white, but also because she's good at staying out of the fray when things get heated. She will kind of dance around at the edges, inviting chase, eventually throwing in a snarl or two, to say "Enough!"
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
23,603 Posts
Many dogs are pretty socially adept at intervening in scraps between other dogs. If a 3rd dogs with great social skills they can use their repertoire of signals to calm the other dogs down or to intervene to protect a puppy or shy or inexperienced dog that need a helping hand/paw. I can't say for sure if I think poodles are well known for being especially well endowed with those sorts of skills over other breeds.

I can say that my sweet smart Lily (who herself is sometimes reactive really rarely so and mostly just towards Peeves) is excellent at giving calming signals. She has a long history of having scary interactions with rotties. The first time was at novice obedience trials under old rues with off leash and handlers across the ring sits and downs. On Friday we were next to a rottie who was shifting his weight a lot during the sit. To her credit his breeder/owner/handler took him out of the line during the sit and did not bring him back for the down. She was also entered on Saturday and had seemingly told this boy that he was not to move so they came back on Saturday. However on Saturday she asked to not be in the regular catalog order since that would have put him next to a GSD who had been giving him stink eye all day. The judge said that would be okay, but that put him on the end of the line to our left. Lily obviously didn't like the vibe too well. During the sit she turned her head to the right and avoided all eye contact with him. When I told her to lie down she turned about 45* to her right and laid down diagonally in front of me and showed her back to him. She knew exactly what to do and he was really quite chill for the down. We also had a rottie encounter at a conditioning class where Lily and a rottie were the only dogs present. The instructor was helping the rottie and her handler to do something and I noticed hard eyes from the rottie who was paying no attention to the owner. Lily read it as bad and totally turned her back to them. I now watched them very closely and told the instructor (very young woman) that they had to make the rottie break eye contact and attention to Lily. Thankfully they both had hands on the leash and/or the dog who really wanted to get to Lils since the dog reacted badly to efforts to move her and bit her owner on the hand and arm (thankfully well inhibited bites with no broken skin but probably a lot of bruising). Relying on Lily's good social skills and some really good rottie handlers I have been able to desensitize her to them pretty well. You may be asking why bother desensitization work? The answer is so I don't have to worry about rotties being entered at trials we are also in.
 
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Top