bunn (bunn) wrote,

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Dog behaviour

With everything I've read about dominance and dog hierarchies, I've been watching my new dog, Azure, and wondering if I should be concluding he is Top Dog or Second Dog. I can't work it out (if indeed there is anything to work out). I'm not sure either of them thinks that way. With my 5 cats there is a fairly clear (though often-changing) hierarchy and a series of shifting alliances. But the dogs are just - friends, I suppose.

I wanted to write down all my observations so far to see if that would help me understand.

Mollydog is a 6-year-old spayed female ex-racing greyhound who has lived here for a couple of years. She is generally confident but not aggressive with other dogs, though she can be a little shy with people she doesn't know. She is extremely greedy, and loves clicker training because of the treats.

Azure is a ??7-year-old male lurcher (greyhound/whippet/collie). He likes other dogs but tends to be a little standoffish to start with, then dive in a bit too fast when he decides to say hello. He is smaller than Mollydog. He seems worried by training, though he has picked up a few things, having me looking at him expecting something seems to be stressful for him. He was abused when younger, and is nervous with strangers and has some separation anxiety.

Both dogs are calm in temperament, and enjoy each other's company, though they do not play together in the house. They play with their toys individually, but not together. They play chase sometimes outside, and when that happens it is always Az chasing and Mollydog being chased. Mollydog would like to play in the house or with toys, but Az will not join in: he stands there, very erect and just looks away till she gives up and plays on her own.

Mollydog tends to get her way when it comes to food. If both have a bone, Mollydog will chew hers for a bit, then leave it to go and stand near Az till he lets her have his bone, and then they swap. I have to keep half an eye on them while eating, because Moll will eat as fast as she can, then stand near Az looking hopeful until she puts him off his food, so she can swoop in and grab. She can do this because Az is easily upset and put off his food: she never barks, growls or physically pushes him, and he has never done anything like that to her. Her body language is not aggressive, more hopeful - she just stands, head on one side, waiting. But sometimes if I throw a treat for both of them, Az will grab his faster and then it is a free for all - whoever is quickest gets the second treat.

Bedding is the other way round - when they are downstairs. Az usually has his choice of bedding, and Mollydog will move out of his way if he wants the big beanbag. When they are upstairs, Mollydog gets the big beanbag, but I'm not sure if this is because Az doesn't like it as much as the other beds upstairs. Az is the dog that keeps me company in the study while I work: Mollydog just comes to visit at coffee-breaks. Sometimes they will share a bed. I don't think I've seen Az join Mollydog in the beanbag though - I think it's usually the other way.

There seems to be no competition for a particular toy, though if I throw a toy for Az, Mollydog wants to join in, and that puts Az off. I'm not sure that this is her taking the toy from him: it seems to be more that he thinks dogs playing together in the house with a toy is not allowed.

When Mollydog was an only dog, she had a bit of a tendency to tell off other dogs that were a bit too pushy and intrusive. Fair enough. Now we have Az, that doesn't happen any more. It is now Az's job to tell off rude dogs if they are being annoying. Mollydog greets other dogs first, then Az greets them afterwards.

First thing in the morning, both dogs want hugs and cuddles. Az wriggles to the front to get more fuss, and Mollydog waits for me to greet him, sometimes trying to encourage me to move on to her by doing some of her little tricks. Neither dog regularly wees first or last.

Reading this back, I think I am confirmed in my vague view that Mollydog is more top dog, in so far as we have one - but that she is quite laid back about it and prepared to let Azure do his own thing. She doesn't really have the stamina to be very bossy.

Tags: dogs

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