Bones and barking

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Bones and barking

Post by choirgirl » Fri Apr 01, 2011 5:40 pm

We would like some advice and an idea if we should intervene in this situation between our two dogs.

We have a 16month old English Springer spaniel (male), and a Boxer ***** who is coming up to the six month mark. They adore each other and us and apart from some mild car refusal we have, touch wood, had no serious issues with them... but I am becoming slightly concerned about food or more to the point bones.

Max (the springer) is a very laid back "dude" of a dog who is almost horizontal in attitude, as long as he has enough exercise and cuddles he doesn't care about much and is the easiest dog I have known. Del (boxer) etc is a different personality entirely and is full on (she isn't a pain to us, no idea why but she has been house trained easily, comes, sits and stays with no troublesome training or refusal) and has slotted into our family very well. At feeding time we make both dogs sit nicely and they are given permission to "go get" when we tell them ie stops jumping up etc and usually Del eats faster than Max and she has been taught to come sit by me when she has finished eating and not steal Max's food (she did this once, but we intervened quietly and started the sit thing). Max, who is a bit of a 'pudding' let her try and steal his food and just walked off!!!

Feeding time is no issue, but when I give them a nice bone each, and bearing in mind Max is a slower eater she will bark at him when she has finished hers. He roundly ignores her and has once growled and snapped at her and she went away.. but I am worried that if I intervene I might upset the balance of their "excellent" relationship or if I don't intervene I will be helping to create a monster who nags Max to death? Should I leave them to it or get involved? Del's barking at Max is infrequent and isn't annoying our neighbours (who have commented that apart from hearing me 'talking' to the dogs were unaware of their presence, as they don't really bark or cause issues).

they sleep together, eat together, go walks together (she cries if Max is taken to the groomers and she cannot find him). Max will stand up to her at times but if she takes a stick from him in play he tends to just wander away... but the barking at Max does bother me... is this normal between dogs? Is it starting perhaps food jealousy? could my routine of making them sit and wait for their dinner bowls exacerbating matters? Or is it simply the dogs working out who is top dog between them?

All advice and insight really appreciated, sorry about it being a small issue, with two puppies in the house I do realise it could be a whole lot worse and is a minor issue but I want these two to bond for life and with Max being so laid back am concerned this might be a pre cursor to him being bullied.

Edit: still slightly embarrassed as we have had such an easy ride with these two ... a few "positive" training techniques have made these two a complete joy and well mannered dogs - I'm just at a bit of a loss if this behaviour is normal because I have never ever had two dogs... they do have companionship ie me all day and lots of exercise. I was expecting to have a destroyed house with a Springer and a Boxer but so far ... one toilet brush has been the only casualty.. but advice on two dogs would be appreciated and do I have to intervene with the barking over the bone issue?
One rescued Spotty English Springer Spaniel, one "Mom and Pop Bred" Red Boxer = lots of love

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Re: Bones and barking

Post by Nettle » Sat Apr 02, 2011 3:15 am

Kudos to you for your active supervision :D this is how problems are avoided.

Bones are a huge resource to a dog, and therefore any issue on possession of same is likely to boil over into something better avoided.

In your position, I'd give the dogs their bones where they can't see each other. In separate rooms, one indoors one outdoors, however you care to organise it, but totally separate so Bullying Madam can't greed the slow eater's bone off him or stress him into giving it up.

If food times become stressful, that stress has to go somewhere, and wherever it goes isn't pretty. A dog doesn't have to actually take another dog's food to freak that dog out. The dog that is under threat does not necessarily show it is distressed - it may shut down for weeks/months and then - WHAM!

Once that barrier is crossed, there is no going back, and then dogs have to be kept separate for the rest of their lives.

You sound as if you are managing these two beautifully. We have a pinned thread on two pups together in our Articles section. You have opposite genders, so with that and your common sense, it can work - but it will be hard work, because in a nutshell it means exercising and training separately as much as you can. (For the benefit of other readers - not as much as you feel like or want to - as much as you can.)

Do stay with us, vent when times are stressful, crow when they are good, share your experiences.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog


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