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Old 08-17-2014, 04:24 PM   #1 (permalink)
 

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APBT/Lab mix, questions about behavior

Hello all,

I've done some reading here on the forum before I decided to sign up to ask my specific question, which has led me to sign-up and actually ask my questions.

We got a pitbull/lab mix about a year and a half ago and she is the most playful, loving dog I've ever owned. She does have her moments of nibbling where she plays, but nibbles/bites a little too hard on my hands, which I then correct. It's her "puppy" phase that she never really grew out of. The great thing about her is that she's completely open and loving to strangers and never shows a single sign of aggression towards other people. She's always willing and accepting of meeting new people, especially people that come over to the house. She's great with the neighbor kids when they come over to visit and not once have we ever been worried about her biting anyone.

My wife, before I moved in, owned a 13 year old cocker spaniel, Sydney (whom was in the house before Lilith, the pit/lab mix) who never tried or even accepted playing with Lilith. Lilith wanted to play with Sydney quite often, but Sydney wouldn't have it. Syd would snap at Lilith and Lilith, instead of biting back, would dart off with her tail between her legs. She never once tried to hurt Syd or snap at her, so we figured she was just a big ol' pansy (which in my eyes, is perfect).

Well, last month, we ended up losing Sydney to old age. My wife and I had been considering getting a new puppy so that Lilith had someone to finally play with her and up until now we hadn't found anything that would be in the right size-range for Lilith.

Last night I was browsing through Craigslist and found a German shepherd/boxer mix and we immediately thought she'd be a great play mate with Lilith and a great pet for my wife since she lost hers a month ago. We drove the three hours yesterday to pick her up and brought her home to meet her new sister.

Lilith, so far, has been gentle with Maggie. Maggie is only six weeks old and is very playful. She'll jump at Lilith and nibble on Lilith's tail and toes, and Lilith, for the most part, lets her do it. Sorry for the long post, but this brings me to my questions.

During the two's meetings, Lilith is always wagging her tail, as is Maggie. We take that as it should be a good sign, that Lilith seems receiving of the new little sister, but it worries us because of how fast Lilith reacts sometimes to Maggie. If Maggie starts jumping around, Lilith will react and either push the puppy with her nose and knock her over or she'll start to give very, slight, small nibbles on Maggie's legs. She has yet to actually cause Maggie to whimper in pain, and we're hoping that's a good sign.

I just worry because I've read that a lot of signs of dog aggression include the hair raising on their back, growling, stiff body, etc. Lilith doesn't show any of the classical dog aggression signs, other than her body will get stiff, however, her tail continues to wag during the "stiffness" period. I just worry because Maggie is so playful, and of course so tiny still, that Lilith will accidentally snap at her and bite her. One bite and Maggie would be a goner.

For those of you that immediately say, "no Pitbull should ever have a playmate that you don't want to die", I ask that you consider all of the other things I've mentioned about Lilith. I did a lot of research on the breed before actually getting Lilith, and so far, she has proven to be an amazing companion. I just worry about how rough she seems to play with the puppy, if she's really playing at all.

Can someone help me shed some light on this? Did we make a mistake? Am I worrying too much?

Thank you!
Ricky

Edit:

Here they both are last night, laying under our feet as we ate dinner.



Here's Maggie, super sleepy.



Here's Lilith, watching my wife play a game on her phone



And here's Lilith, chillin' and watching TV.


Last edited by undeadcircus; 08-17-2014 at 04:42 PM.
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Old 08-17-2014, 08:39 PM   #2 (permalink)
 
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Welcome to the forum!

Without actually seeing your dogs interacting, it's hard to say whether she's playing too rough or not. I will tell you that tail wagging doesn't necessarily mean she's happy or accepting. When my male goes into fixation mode on a dog, he wags his tails constantly, but it's definitely not because he's happy to see the other dog. He postures very stiffly, raises his tail as high as it can go while wagging, and his hackles immediately go up.

My dogs love to play rough and to someone who wasn't able to read their body language correctly, it would probably look much less innocent than I know it is. They love to nibble on legs, cheeks, ears, body slam each other, etc. I've only had to separate them once while playing because my younger female nipped my male's ear too hard and he let out a huge whine. So I'd hazard a guess that unless either of them whine, they're probably just playing like puppies do.

That being said, just make sure to always supervise when they're playing to ensure it doesn't get out of hand. While most older dogs will a correct a puppy for playing too rough, some just sit there and take it. So if that's the case it'll be your job to intervene and teach both of your pups the correct way to play with other dogs.
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Old 08-17-2014, 08:41 PM   #3 (permalink)
 
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Actually, here's a picture of my male watching a dog outside. It's easy to see from his body language that he's not happy about it. Maybe this will help you interpret your own dog's body language. Name:  ImageUploadedByPG Free1408304483.464682.jpg
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Old 08-17-2014, 08:52 PM   #4 (permalink)
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APBT/Lab mix, questions about behavior

Good post BC.

I am wondering why you got your puppy so young? (Dogs are weaned off their mothers around 4-5 weeks and by law most states require dogs to stay with their litters until 8 weeks.) Especially if your not 100% sure how to properly read a dog taking them early from a litter is a big cause of behavioral issues later in life. So I think it's good you have another dog to help her learn limits. Always 100% supervise all interactions. Even as thy grow and seem like there are no problems. Look for the stiffening and freezing reactions. My dog closes his mouth. If can be very subtle and missed It's good to have them socialize as long as Lilith minds you. I would start interrupting play and having them separate for a minute and relax many times throughout the day while they interact. That what when she gets older and you need to stop rough play they are used to being stopped and will listen. Some people only interrupt to end play and the dogs learn fun stops when they listen to you so not a good system to start with.

Welcome!! Beautiful dogs thanks for sharing and I look forward to hearing about how they grow together
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Old 08-19-2014, 11:54 PM   #5 (permalink)
 

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Originally Posted by BCdogs View Post
Welcome to the forum!

Without actually seeing your dogs interacting, it's hard to say whether she's playing too rough or not. I will tell you that tail wagging doesn't necessarily mean she's happy or accepting. When my male goes into fixation mode on a dog, he wags his tails constantly, but it's definitely not because he's happy to see the other dog. He postures very stiffly, raises his tail as high as it can go while wagging, and his hackles immediately go up.

My dogs love to play rough and to someone who wasn't able to read their body language correctly, it would probably look much less innocent than I know it is. They love to nibble on legs, cheeks, ears, body slam each other, etc. I've only had to separate them once while playing because my younger female nipped my male's ear too hard and he let out a huge whine. So I'd hazard a guess that unless either of them whine, they're probably just playing like puppies do.

That being said, just make sure to always supervise when they're playing to ensure it doesn't get out of hand. While most older dogs will a correct a puppy for playing too rough, some just sit there and take it. So if that's the case it'll be your job to intervene and teach both of your pups the correct way to play with other dogs.
Thank you very much for your reply! We definitely do not leave Maggie alone with Lilith, as we wouldn't be around to at least try and intervene if something turned serious. The two have been playing a lot more the last couple of days, and although at times it looks as if it gets pretty rough, I can tell that Lilith is intentionally biting very, very gently. I haven't heard Maggie yelp or cry out in pain once due to Lilith biting too hard. I'm hoping this continues.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ames View Post
Good post BC.

I am wondering why you got your puppy so young? (Dogs are weaned off their mothers around 4-5 weeks and by law most states require dogs to stay with their litters until 8 weeks.) Especially if your not 100% sure how to properly read a dog taking them early from a litter is a big cause of behavioral issues later in life. So I think it's good you have another dog to help her learn limits. Always 100% supervise all interactions. Even as thy grow and seem like there are no problems. Look for the stiffening and freezing reactions. My dog closes his mouth. If can be very subtle and missed It's good to have them socialize as long as Lilith minds you. I would start interrupting play and having them separate for a minute and relax many times throughout the day while they interact. That what when she gets older and you need to stop rough play they are used to being stopped and will listen. Some people only interrupt to end play and the dogs learn fun stops when they listen to you so not a good system to start with.

Welcome!! Beautiful dogs thanks for sharing and I look forward to hearing about how they grow together
Thank you very much! They are definitely two of the cutest dogs I've ever had the pleasure of owning. We got Maggie so early due to being impatient. Yes, it was probably a bad idea, but we couldn't help ourselves. My wife lost her cocker spaniel last month and I know she's been needing a furry companion pretty badly to help her ease out of the pain of losing Sydney. We found a lady selling these pups on Craigslist for $35 each, all shots and everything included. The lady (sweetest lady ever) kept texting me pictures of the pup and before you knew it, me and Rebecca couldn't wait to get her home. So we called, asked, and were told she should be good to go that evening. So we drove the three hour trip to pick her up and it's been great ever since.

Now that I bored you with those details, I'll answer a few more of your suggestions. We definitely supervise all of their interactions with each other. Maggie stays in a kennel while we're at work and we let her roam the house when we're home. Her and Lilith seem to enjoy playing with each other quite a bit. But with Lilith, we got her at 6 weeks (just like Maggie) and so far, Lilith has been one of the best behaved dogs I have ever owned. She minds well and was very easy to kennel train among other things. So, I get what you're saying about the behavioral problems later in life, and we'll definitely watch out for them. But I feel like I have a pretty decent handle on dog training (patience and persistence on my part, obedience on theirs). I did great with Lilith and I'll be working on Maggie fairly soon (maybe after she loses the puppy breath hahaha).

But either way. I took a video of the two playing together so that you could all see it. You'll notice at about the 0:55 second mark that Lilith begins to "punch" Maggie with her nose. She does this often, but never to the point of excess and actually causing pain to Maggie. The one thing that is very interesting is that Lilith will lay down in front of Maggie and let Maggie climb all over her head and back (until Lilith starts to feel trapped) and will eventually knock her off. In what I've seen with aggression in animals, I couldn't imagine one dog lying down in front of another dog if they truly thought the other dog was a threat. Does that make sense?

Lilith & Maggie Getting to Know Each Other - YouTube

Either way, check out the video and tell me what you think! Is Lilith playing too rough? Does this look like typical puppy play-time? I've never had two dogs this close to each other in age and actually play like this before. The only dogs I've ever owned basically existed in the house with each other, but never really interacting or being social with one another (Lilith and Sydney as an example).

Sorry for the novel of a reply, I just wanted to get some more information out there. I'm a little more laid-back now as far as the two go with playing with one another. I just wanted to respond and give you my sincerest thanks in your replies!

Take care!
Ricky
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Old 08-20-2014, 12:42 AM   #6 (permalink)
 
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From that video, it seems like your older dog does want to play with the pup, but I definitely saw a couple moments where she looked unsure or a little uncomfortable. I think she's probably just not really sure how to play with her, or what exactly to do with her, if you know what I mean. You're doing all the right things right now, just continue to monitor them very closely and give your older dog lots of breaks and alone time if she's starting to seem uncomfortable or annoyed. Don't force her to interact with the pup if she's not into play time at that moment. It's also a good idea to give her her own space that she can go to if she wants to be alone. Maybe in a separate room or have her crate readily available if she likes spending time in it. Thanks for the pictures and video, they are both super cute.
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