Play or aggression?

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Longshanks's picture
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Joined: 2013-01-06

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How do you tell play from aggression from communication? We are taking care of a puppy today and may have her for the rest of the week. She has been doing well with Jake but I have not had two dogs for a long time so some things are confusing me. For instance when they play Jake puts his mouth on the back of her neck, it is not hard and if I separate them she goes right back to it. he growls at her when she comes up to him and he is sleeping. My dad got them some bones, Jake buried his in the back yard then came in and took hers, he then growled when she wanted it back. I took the bone away from him, my dad gave it back to her when Jake was sleeping and now Jake has it again and continues to growl at her, right now I have him outside and her inside. I don't know if this is normal or behavior that will pass, we are considering adopting her but I don't want to have aggression problems. They were playing and having a good time this morning, so I don't know if this behavior is permanent or just part of the adjustment phase. I look forward to the advice from the forum to help guide me. 

Wolfgirl_121's picture
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Joined: 2010-11-08

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Him grabbing her neck sounds like play, but you may have possession issues with Jake. If he's taking her things and being mean, you need to separate them at meal times and give them bones in two separate rooms. If he's growling when she comes towards him while he's trying to sleep, you'll want them in separate rooms or crates at bed-time. This is mild aggression, and there is every possibility it's because he's used to being an only child. There is also every possibility he could just be being a brat and it'll subside, but for now, your best bet would be to separate them during feeding and sleeping.

Tannaidhe's picture
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Joined: 2013-02-25

Pretty much what Wolfgirl said.  My -guess- is that it's mostly adjustment/establishing heirarchy, though it's hard to really say without seeing it, but you want to minimize the potential for conflict unless and until it subsides.

Hi , back of neck play biting seems to be quite a dobe thing .... Mina pays really hard but I've been told by my trainer NOT to let her play so hard , so intervening with them is a good thing . What type is the puppy ? Usually one dog will be more dominant but to begin with see how they can share low prize toys and treats .... How old is Jake ? Older dogs do like to growl at puppies to keep them in line . Good luck with the puppy . Let us know how they get on xx P and M xx 

HarleyBear's picture
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Harley is a HUGE "back of the neck" player.  But when he gets too excited, I do make him take time-outs.  There is a fine-line between playing and aggression, so taking a breather is important.  

Right on with what WolfGirl said.

Lady Kate's picture
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Joined: 2009-10-28

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Resource guarding is pretty common... if it were me, I'd 'puppy-proof' the house and make sure all of Jake's belongings ( including food, water, toys and bed) are put away.

Sofia is pretty mellow until someone wants to join her on 'her spot' and just like Sheldon Cooper.. she gets upset and makes sure they know.

I do make sure everything is not within grabbing or playing distance when we have visitors. and even then, I watch them both like a hawk.

Longshanks's picture
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Joined: 2013-01-06

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Thank you for all the advice, things are going better for the past few days, Jake has been less agressive, still some growling when it comes to food and sleep but I can work with it. We are not sure what the puppy is, I think german shepard mix, she is about 20lbs and 4 months old so im not sure how big she will get. I will try to post pictures of her she is really cute

Longshanks's picture
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talisin's picture
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Joined: 2011-02-25

awww look at that face what a cutie!! I do so love seeing all the pupster pictures.....

Tannaidhe's picture
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Joined: 2013-02-25

What a cutie!  Squeee!