Alpha dog - new puppy - I have created a problem

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OggyJock
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2008 3:13 pm

Alpha dog - new puppy - I have created a problem

Post by OggyJock » Mon Mar 17, 2008 3:26 pm

Hello People
I have a problem I have not seen discussed anywhere - advice is mostappreciated.

I have a Norwegian Elkhound (Oggy) - 27 weeks old and a Border Collie (Jock) - 20 weeks old.
Norwegian Elkhounds are intelligent but independent dogs and (apparently) difficult to train. After having Oggy for a month, we decided to get a second dog, with a completely different nature to "balance" the household and decided on a Border Collie - high energy, very affectionate and easily trained. In the long term, we want to do dog-sports with both dogs.

So, a month later we got Jock. Both dogs are beautiful and we are very proud owners. But I believe there is a problem.

If I recall Jock he arrives immediately, tail wagging, and an "anything else you would like I can do" attitude.

When I recall Oggy, he looks at me with a "leave a message" attitude but otherwise ignores me.

When we go to "play" with the dogs, Jock is eager but the moment Oggy arrives he "plays" with Jock and stops Jock playing with us. Oggy will not play with us (the humans).

So ... I have spent a great deal of time watching the two dogs. My conclusion is .... Oggy is "looking after" Jock - that appears to be his "job". He does this 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And - I believe this is stressful for him.

My question is - if I have created a situation where Oggy is the alpha in the 'pack' how do I then show Oggy that he is not required to "look after" Jock and that this is OUR job. I believe that Oggy does not trust us to do the job.

Any suggestions would be most helpful - although, removing either of the dogs from our household is NOT an option. We chose both these dogs "for life" - we just need advice on how to make it the best experience for them.

Many thanks in advance
Sonja

emmabeth
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Post by emmabeth » Mon Mar 17, 2008 3:54 pm

You have created this situation yes.... buy adding in another puppy.

They are both immature and they will bond more easily with one another than they will with you.

Regardless of whether your dogs respond well to you, their heirarchy related to each other is THEIR business, and there is nothing you can really do to change that - you are not a dog, even if you were, you cannot (and really except in dire circumstances, should not) decide which of them is 'boss' over the other.

The problem anyway isnt which is boss over the other - the problem is, dogs communicate in dog language and since there are two of them... its easier for them to do things with one another than with you.

I dont think Oggy IS looking after Jock... don't go putting human action onto them... they are juvenile dogs.. not adult humans. Oggy is not a breed that 'takes' to humans nearly so well (Jock on the other hand has been bred specifically to work well with a handler... Oggy has been bred to be far more independant).. so its thoroughly unsurprising that its easier and funner to play with Jock than it is with you.

It probably is stressful for him but life is stressful... he is going to learn to deal with various different kinds of stress in his life, including learning, training, solving problems, meeting new sights sounds and smells.... what is more stressful for YOU is that whilst Oggy and Jock are playing puppy games.... neither are learning to be the dogs YOU want.

So, you have got to spend THREE times the amount of time it takes to train one dog, training two.

Train Oggy on his own.
Train Jock on his own.

Train Oggy AND Jock together.

Have a read of the clicker training thread - get two clickers with very different sounds (get a normal clicker for one, and get something else that will do the job for the other, and don't swap!)...

Clicker training is great and both will learn really well, but you also have to learn how to train both - some dogs are very easy to teach and if they get frustrated will use that frustration to try new things and learn new things.

Other dogs are very sensitive and will shut down and stop learning the minute they fail or become frustrated.

Honestly - I would take one pup back. Unless you do have all day every day or near as dammit, to train both pups you are making problems for yourself and long term.... you are likely to have 15 years or so of a nightmare if things go the way they could (two dogs who do as they damn well please when together and are NOT a joy to own).

If you DO have the time, are you going to actually put the work in that is required - both these dogs are high maintenance dogs, they are both going to need a lot of learning and a LOT of work from you, and if you slack off, they are both capable of learning the WRONG things, eveyr bit as quickly as they will learn the 'right' things (proba bly more quickly).

Sorry if htat is not what you want to hear.... but telling you what you want to hear is not my job! Hope this is helpful anyway.

OggyJock
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2008 3:13 pm

Post by OggyJock » Mon Mar 17, 2008 4:10 pm

Hello Emmabeth and thank you for your reply - your taking the time and effort to respond is always appreciated.

I do agree with the majority of what you say - but while I listened I am not sure that I really explained the "taking care" of problem quite well enough. For example, just earlier this morning Jock was in that beautiful Border Collie moving crouch creaping up on one of the goats on the other side of the fence. He moved right up to it without the goat noticing. Oggy was watching and when Jock got too close to the goat, he ran up, barked so the goat would move away, then left.

This is what I mean by him taking care of Jock - he is watching him constantly, apparently to see he is safe.

In the car, Oggy lies down, relaxes and goes to sleep. Except when Jock is there too - Jock cries and after a while Oggy snaps at him to stop him.
It is almost as though Oggy has decided Jock is his pup and he must teach him.

That aside - do we have the time and energy to devote to these dogs? Absolutely. Are we prepared for 15 years of this. Absolutely. My husband does not work, and I work (and study) part time. The dogs are the equivalent of our "children" and that is a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week "job". It is not a decision we have taken lightly, or without a considerable amount of research and discussion. Hence the post here - we are completely dedicated to providing the absolute best for both our animals - and we are not going to wait until we have a "problem dog" before we seek advice - we will do that as we go, to ensure nothing develops into a "problem".

As for your advice re training - again, that is most apprecited. We train the dogs seperately, and together. Oggy attends obedience school in a group setting (without Jock) and private obedience. Jock is not attending yet as his vacinations were not up to date. They are walked together, and seperately. When the next term of obedience school starts, Jock will be enrolled so he can learn in a group setting.

Again, thank you for your advice
Regards
Sonja

OggyJock
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2008 3:13 pm

PS

Post by OggyJock » Mon Mar 17, 2008 4:12 pm

Oh, and re the clicker training - yes, we have two entirely different clickers for the dogs. I was not sure if that was the right way to go (I have never clicker trained before) so it was good that someone agrees with my feeling that they had to make different sounds - thanks again.

Fab_lab
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Joined: Fri Oct 20, 2006 5:32 pm

Post by Fab_lab » Mon Mar 17, 2008 4:42 pm

very good advice as normal emmabeth


I would use the clicker training way too

emmabeth
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Post by emmabeth » Mon Mar 17, 2008 5:06 pm

Im still unconvinced that a pup only a few weeks older, can know what is or isnt safe.

He may well feel sufficiently above Jock to tell him off for doing things HE doesnt like, and doing the low border collie prowl is quite a predatory thing,(after all Jocks herding instincts are only hunting instincts with the 'kill' element switched off) and so he says 'oi... don't do that I dont like it'..

Ditto whining.. 'shuttup thats annoying'.

I would expect the slightly older and more aloof hound type to come out on top above the more needy, younger pastoral breed so that is natural.

Id make sure they spend a LOT of time apart, actively doing things with you. When they are together focus on 'look at me = treats' and looking or interacting with each other doesnt.

Make the treats more important by using only really high value treats and making them part of the daily food ration, not extras = so the pups are working for their food, as opposed to working for bonus's.

Glad to hear you have plenty of time, I was dreading you saying 'oh no we work 8 hours a day each...'!!!!

Really, whichever is the 'boss' of the other is between them - the difficult with young dogs is often there is little to seperate them but at least these two are different breeds and there is a few weeks between them too. You can hope to limit any trouble by making sure they absolutely respond to you above all else, but if Jock wants to let Oggy bully him (which could well be what develops) and doesnt tell him off, and if Oggy feels he must tell Jock what to do... there isnt much you can do to change that - and attempting to interfere too much can do more harm than good. (You can try stepping in and distracting Oggy, but if you always do that.. Jock will get no peace unless you are present, sol its better if Jock learns to tell Oggy to sod off, or accepts it).

OggyJock
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2008 3:13 pm

Post by OggyJock » Mon Mar 17, 2008 5:58 pm

Again Emmabeth - thanks for your advice. Your comments have certainly given me food for thought - I may well be misinterpreting Oggy's actions. I will certainly observe with a more open mind and keep your comments on hand. :)

Regards, Sonja

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