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Thread: Interesting? Dog Behaviour

  1. #1
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    Default Interesting? Dog Behaviour

    As some of you may know, we have four dogs here right now. Sooty (7 year female staffy), Leo (6 year male jack russellxwhippet), Lily (1.5 year female kelpiexborder collie) and Obie (1 year male bull arab). All have been desexed, although Leo much later in life than the others.

    Do you believe family dogs have a hierarchy among themselves? I do, and I've been trying to work out who is the "leader" of sorts. Today I was throwing the ball for them all, and this sometimes leads to tussles and nips and hackles up and all (but they all respond to a quick "Oi!" and they're all friends again). Sooty and Leo are very, very ball driven, Lily not so much, and Obie just runs to chase everyone else. I must have thrown the ball 30 times or more, and I noticed every time Leo got the ball, Sooty tried to get it from him and start a fight, and Lily would jump on her, knock her over and get in way. On the other hand, every time Sooty got the ball and Leo tried to get it off her, Lily would jump on him and do the same to him as she does to Sooty.

    What does this sound like to people who know much more about dog behaviour than I do? haha. In my rather uneducated opinion, I think she's the leader. Keeping the peace and sorting out arguments and all that. What also leads me to this conclusion is Obie.

    I know many people scoff at the theory dogs relating to wolves and having the same behaviours, but Obie reminds me clearly of a wolf pack "omega". He's the most timid, will put himself between arguments even if it means he gets hurt, accepts pats and food last. He even carries himself lower then the other dogs when there's a tiff and rolls over to expose his belly/throat readily. He also takes lead from Lily. As in today he only interfered between the two arguing dogs if Lily did so first.

    Obviously my conclusion may be entirely wrong, I just thought it was interesting and worth making a thread about

  2. #2
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    I agree that there is a hierarchy.
    There were a few vicious fights between Bandit and Pretty. Never any fights now between them. It really seems that he is the boss outside and her inside..eg he will not go past her into our room unless I am standing between them. This is the same for all of them. She will let them out of the room but lunge and snap if they try to get back in.

    Outside it is very evident at times that he is top dog as he gets his way non violently.

    Any posts made under the name of Di_dee1 one can be used by anyone as I do not give a rats.

  3. #3
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    That's really interesting. We have that here with Sooty at night time "guarding" her mummy (boyfriend's mum) from Leo. I always thought it was a sort of vicious guarding of resource, but there might be something else to it.

  4. #4
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    Jodi and Jessie spat at times. I think they may be sorting out the bottom two ( I just don't like them doing it under my legs when they are up on the coffee table) maybe they just enjoy it as at all other times they are kissy kissy suck face.

    Any posts made under the name of Di_dee1 one can be used by anyone as I do not give a rats.

  5. #5
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    LOL at the Bull Arab being the timid one....so many blokes up here get them thinking they are a super tough pig hunter !!!

    I think they have a hierachy for sure.....and they do operate in packs aswell. We have wild packs around here causing farmers a bit of grief. (i've already got my flame suit on lol)

    Where else would the saying..'i'm top dog' come from ?


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  6. #6
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    There is most certainly a hierarchy here and anyone who thinks otherwise doesn't own enough dogs to realise it.

    However it's not cut and dried because different dogs put different value on things. So if there are tussles over a ball it could be between the ones that place the most value on it and then there is always the chaser or the one who likes to stir things up.

    However generally speaking a true hierarchy will go by sex, age and size.

    Most people think that eg: the little dog rules the bigger dog, but this isn't so, it's just typical of the smaller animal making sure the larger one knows his personal space is important for it's own preservation.

    Also the leader is most often the one that tries the least or throws it's weight around the least.

    In my house the 4yo entire male Whippet (had matings) finally last year took leadership from our 28kg Gordon Setter bitch aged 7 (desexed at 3 years). It took him several years before he took that position from her because of the size difference and the crunch came when she went to have a go at one of his pups (who was annoying her).

    Most packs settle down into a routine, with very little trouble amongst them & I'm not saying that there was constant fighting amongst my dogs, quite the opposite but previously he would never have stood up to her regardless.

    And then there's the old "possession is 9/10th of the law" in the dog world.
    Last edited by MAC; 08-16-2012 at 08:07 PM.

  7. #7
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    I'd say either Sooty or Leo at this stage. Lily is no different from our 5 month old annoying saluki pup when Tilly and Mickey play ball and probably not old enough to take on either of the other two and since so much younger isn't important to them. Is Obie a dog or bitch? In the end, particularly if Obie is a dog due to size I'd say he/she will be leader but probably not until one of the older ones passes on.

    Lily's behavour is also very typical Kelpie, lots of barging.

    But of course I'm just guessing from your description and taking in ages and breed/size.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the insight MAC. Obie is male. I'm not sure how much a dog's personality would change over the years, but Obie is a very, very timid dog. Like you lift your hand to catch a ball and he'll run away kind of timid. There's never been any kind of violence or smacking, etc around the dogs so I don't know where it came from. Perhaps he will just grow out of it?

    Lily's actions certainly seemed on the more serious side. She'd jump on them or barge them over with hackles up and teeth bared, then would back off when they stopped trying for the ball (with a little bit of snarling and grumbling at her). However I haven't had a kelpie before and I definitely don't know if this is "normal" (as normal as can be hehe) behaviour.

  9. #9
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    Personality does come into it of course. And generally speaking big dogs are soft, bred that way because nobody wants a big dog with the energy of a terrier. But you may find him a different dog matured at age 4 or so. I hope he gets over his fears and that it's just a growth stage he's going thru.

    I just think from your description Lily is too much bluster for a leader. My purebred Kelpies could be like this amongst themselves. Much more jealous dogs than any of my 3 breeds I have now and much more competitive amongst themselves in all ways. And they also had a lower tolerance for silliness from other dogs.

    I take it that the mix of dogs has recently been changed or added to?

    The behaviour you've described when the ball comes out between Sooty, Leo and Lily is also so typical of many households.
    Last edited by MAC; 08-16-2012 at 08:55 PM.

  10. #10
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    Not recently. Sooty lived on her own for quite a while when their old staffy died. Then I moved in and brought Leo with me, and a few months later the boyfriend's sister and her fiance moved back in and brought their two dogs with them. The higher jealousy and low tolerance of kelpies makes a lot of sense in our household. It's good to know we're not the only ones with a crazy dog life! haha

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