Saturday, August 20, 2011

What are the rules?

Lots and lots of photos of young Enzo (with the black collar) and me (with the denim collar) playing bitey face in our back yard, and then my mum would like your advice.

Now for our questions - Mum has never had two dogs before so she would really like your advice. You see ever since the young pup arrived we have been allowed to play bitey face as mum decided that it was unwise to wait until Enzo was my weight before we were allowed to battle.

For the last six months I’ve been gentle with him, and when we fight there is no raised fur, growls or blood. I’m a Golden Retriever, and although I make some silly faces in the photos I have a soft mouth. In fact we’ve never injured each other, and despite the photos showing the occasional mouthful of fur it is very rare that either of us yelps. If this was a movie it would probably be a silent movie!

But mum said there is something called “pack order” (in our games I always manage to knock the young one over, and so far he’s only done that once to me so at the moment I'm claiming I'm at the top of the pack), but  Enzo is almost eight months old and is getting more and more male hormones as he is still a full dog (whereas I was taken to my nice vet just after my first birthday for what I thought would be a fun visit!) so mum wonders if there is anything that she should consider or do differently when we play so that our play remains fun and we stay friends. 

At the moment my rules are:

• stand still while the young one runs around and around and around the garden and then around and around me as eventually he gets tired

• never let him bowl me over

• always try to have the upper paw

• show him there are no hard feelings after our fights by being friendly, sleeping together and generally being good together around the house

and Mum has these rules:

• we are not allowed to fight inside the house or in the back of the car

• we have to stop immediately when she says "Enough" until she says it is "OK" for us to play again (or if we are getting too energetic or tired, she gets us to do something else like a few sits or some heal work and then we all go inside)

• we have to wait for at least two hours after eating before playing like this because of some strange fear she has of the word “bloat” while we jump and twist, and

• we only get play fight if she or dad are home. When they are both out, for now, we are in separate areas of the house or garden.

So what do you think about how we play together? Do you get to play bitey face, and do you have any wise words about pack order. How did your humans know it was safe to leave you home alone together? Is there anything else we should know or consider as Enzo gets older and bigger?



STELLA from Down Under said...

Hi Riley, over the years, mum has always had two dogs and at different times one of them was a pup or young dog. She thinks the dogs work out their own pecking order sooner or later. If you want to keep one of the dogs 'top dog' she would feed that one first, get him in the car first etc. We never had problems. We had a great dane/cocker spaniel combination twice and then dane/lab and they all were fine. Even with the dane/cocker spaniel pair, size didn't matter. Our cocker was the boss as she was the oldest. At the moment I am an only 'child' but play with my cousin Tyler (a 2 yr old lab) every day and I know he is the boss. Don't worry too much. Also our dogs were left alone together right from the start but with our last dane Brucey, mum didn't leave them alone with bones, cause he would get grumpy and try to eat Kara's bone. Apart from that one thing all was fine when they were together. Take care. No worries, and love, Stella (and Carol)

sprinkles said...

I agree with Stella that the dogs manage to work out the pecking order on their own. Shiver thinks he's top dog and that all toys and loves belong to him solely. However, add another dog to the mix and he's no longer top dog -- he gets very shy.

My boys don't play bitey face. Shiver would like to but Chico isn't his biggest fan, he only tolerates Shiver. The only time they ever play together is out in the yard. However, if they did do bitey face, I think your rules are perfect and personally, wouldn't change any of them.

I've always left my boys alone together right from the start. I figured if they were good to each other while I was home, they'd be just as good when I was away. Plus, Shiver just HATES to be left alone. So far, I haven't had any problems.

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

As you know, over the past 10+ years we've fostered a lot of dogs. Up until about 4 years ago, we only fostered the young Goldens that loved (!!!) to play. But I have to agree, the dogs do work out who is the 'top dog.' When we added our 2nd Golden, of course I wanted our first one to be the leader, but he wasn't. But what was important was that he knew he was still 'our' top dog. Nothing changed in how we treated him. As dogs have been added and subtracted in our household, the standing within the pack has changed, and there's nothing we can do but let things happen normally. It allows there to be a balance in their own relationship with one another.

As far as playing, I was worried when we added the puppy about the Goldens hurting him. I can tell you that's not happened. They seem to be aware of his size and have been very gentle with him. But I think you've set some great rules!! I think you're wise to not let them play unless you're there and put an end to it when it becomes escalated. Those are the times when we've had fights and someone get hurt, when its been allowed to get out of control, and/or we've not been there. I can promise you there WILL be a time when you can leave them together unattended and give them that freedom. Only you will know when that time comes--Trust me, you just know. But when they're young, I have found that Goldens are like the ocean, you really don't want to turn your back on them! :-)))

I hope this has made sense, I know many times I don't!!

Maggie and Mitch said...

We play biteyface lots and mom is always watching us. Because I'm 13 and Mitch is only 4, mom doesn't want me to tire or to get hurt. Occassionally, one of us does yip and it stops play while we make sure both of us are okay. Mom doesn't think that we play biteyface when she's not home. She swears we play it to entertain and impress her and dad! Whatever, mom!

Love ya lots,
Maggie and Mitch

Mrs. JP said...

It sounds like your rules are very good. Is Enzo going to be neutered?
In our pack we've had bitey face has turn into fights when they were unsupervised. Pack order is you are supposed to be the pack leader and all others followers.
Gotta keep the peace but fun is fun!

Asta said...

Wiley and Enzo
I love the way you play and think youw wooles awe pawfect..Mommi had two woggies once and they wowked out theiw owdew..I do think you should aways get fiwst bites of tweats and be allowed in the doow fiwst, to help wif the owdew of thingies.
I think it will help when Enzo goes fow his fixit suwgewy (if he does) anyway
I hope you can keep having fun wif no one getting huwt evew
smoochie kisses


Hi there F...
Phew! Like with all things, there are many different points-of-view...all of which I respect. Each dog, each pack, each situation is different. To give advice would be (in my opinion) inappropriate. No two situations are the same.
It's better rather to learn from the experiences of others and then apply what YOU think is appropriate for your situation.
In my own case...I had such a 'tense' situation, when I originally brough MAXDOG into our home. (This entire experience is shared in my book) Max pup played 'bitey face' with 'the King' (who was 3yrs old at the time - and very dominant) As Max matured, he too tested the boundaries. With the 'weight' differences, and breed differences, it really became extremely tense...
Long story short...I had to leave them to sort it out themselves (on the advice of a behaviourist). Wasn't easy...but it worked.
Like your previous commentators, I have also found that dogs will sort it out themselves. Add a human to the equation and it becomes more complicated.
No suggestions from me...just empathy. I know you will work this one out. :)
Sending lotsaluv