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Thread: Normal bulldog "playing" and dominance question

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    Pooper scooper Sampson's Avatar
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    Arrow Normal bulldog "playing" and dominance question

    We recently (about 6 months ago) got a Cane Corso puppy, I choose a female because Sampson (English bulldog) is a little on the dominate side. He is really great with her for the most part. Stella is very submissive and we never have any "fights" between the dogs. I expected for Sampson to be the dominant one but I just don't know of he is being too dominant and the behaviors need to be corrected. The issues arise during play time. If we throw a play or if Stella is playing with a toy Sampson will take it from her and guard it. If she gets close he runs after her and will be growling and snapping (not too crazy though). I'm not sure if this his him playing, the other thing is he rarely assumes a "playful" type position. He also goes after her feet allll the time lol. Stella doesn't seem to mind though, she loves him so much lol. If Sampson is displaying normal bulldog behavior than I am not very concerned about things escalating and getting out of hand, but i don't want to let a bad behavior go without correction. I really want to post a video but both the dogs are passed out right now!
    Thanks in advance

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    I think it's never a good thing to allow "taking" and guarding, growling and chasing away. It may be fine now while they are younger but eventually you don't want it to escalate into something much worse.


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    Default Re: Normal bulldog "playing" and dominance question

    Stella obviously doesn't mind, but it wont' hurt to "put him in his place" occasionally. When they are playing and you see that he has taken the toy, then take it off him, make him sit and then give it to her. Also, when eating you can make him wait and feed her in front of him before putting his food down.

    Right now I dont' think you have a problem, but by asserting your role as pack leader won't hurt one bit. If you can direct all his energy in to wondering what you, his pack leader, is going to do or say next, then he will be a lot less pre-occupied with getting one over on Stella!!

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    Default Re: Normal bulldog "playing" and dominance question

    I agree with the others - it might be playful and harmless as a puppy but it can turn into a undesirable learned behavior in short order, so it's best to nip it in the bud now and show you are boss.

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    Default Re: Normal bulldog "playing" and dominance question

    Cane corso what an amazing and beautiful breed! Cane corsos are territorial and protective by nature. They are a guardian. Breed. Def need to nip that behavior in the but with the cane corso soon as possible. Cane corso are tough do you have previous experience raising one?

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    Default Re: Normal bulldog "playing" and dominance question

    @Sampson - the Cane Corso is such an amazing breed, please post more pictures of your bulldog and corso together would love to see them!!! You do need to make sure that your bulldog isn't allowed to bully her, she is submissive as a pup now but she will grow up and with what she will grow into, you don't want to chance her turning on him because like humans, a dog can only be bullied so long before she defends herself. Just make sure they both have a stable balanced relationship with the clear rules boundaries and limitations and they will be awesome together!!
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    Default Re: Normal bulldog "playing" and dominance question

    iMHO they will work it out. She will probably end up being the dominant one. I would highly recommend using distraction if you see a problem about to happen. Rudy was dominant when Mila was a little puppy. Seems to be trending towards her being the Queen bitch. He still steals a toy occasionally but, unless I get in the middle of it, she normally takes it back eventually. If I get involved she goes Phsyco. Think crazy little white dog barking with legs flailing in the air. when I let her down she runs straight towards him and licks him followed by looking around to see what the problem was. When I figure that one out I will write a book. "One Crazy little White (deaf) Dog".

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    Default Re: Normal bulldog "playing" and dominance question

    Quote Originally Posted by Scueva View Post
    Cane corso what an amazing and beautiful breed! Cane corsos are territorial and protective by nature. They are a guardian. Breed. Def need to nip that behavior in the but with the cane corso soon as possible. Cane corso are tough do you have previous experience raising one?
    It's actually the bulldog that is being territorial lol. I was so concerned about Stella wanting to be the dominate one so from day one she relieved a lot of training. I also taught her to pick a different toy when Sampson took hers. She has been extremely easy to train in comparison to the bulldog (he is a stubborn one) and he has obsessions (tennis balls, drills, things that bounce) we seriously cannot have them out without him losing his mind ha. Then there are other things that he could care less about. Stella is still a pup so I don't want to risk her getting feed up one day and then there being a battle between them. I used to take the toy away and put it up if Sampson took it from her mouth, but I never thought to give it back to Stella. We make Stella sit and wait before she can eat but we don't do it with Sampson. They get along well together overall, but I just felt a little concerned about the possessiveness.

    I appreciate all the help and advice! I do know Sampson responds well to positive reinforcement so do you think I should take the you from Sampson say "no" and then after Stella gets it back then give Sampson a treat??

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    Default Re: Normal bulldog "playing" and dominance question

    There's a difference in the play growl (its not quite a growl but more like talking) and the aggressive growl. It's not as easy to detect the difference in a happy, well-adjusted dog because it's rare to hear them do the aggressive growling. The body clues that accompany the growling would give a better picture. I'm not sure what you mean by a play stance...

    In general, dogs (and my bullys do this too) like playing tug/fetch/dominate games. They would take a toy and run with it, hoping the other dog (or human) would give chase. Then they protect the toy, then when it eventually gets snatched, they hang on for dear life to play tug. A dominant dog will not let go as much as possible. Whereas, an omega dog will drop the toy after a few pulls unless he wants to flex his muscles to test the dominance of the other dog. If the other dog does not do the chase, the other dog will nip at his feet to get him to chase. If there's no toy, they can still play growl and jump at each other in play. The dominant dog will remain on top while the omega dog will lay on its back or side. All this in play complete with noises. If this was an aggression instead of play, the dog's noise changes and his body will tense up and his head will lower and his butt will stiffen. This can escalate within a few seconds...

    So, what do you do... it's not good to encourage an aggressive dog to play tug unless you're the tugged and you are firmly established as the alpha (even then, it's better to just avoid this all together in aggressive dogs). If he's an easy-going dog, it's fine. The dog play - even snatching toys - is fine as you allow the dogs to find their own pecking order in your pack and they do this safer in play mode. It's good for you to monitor this activity and any biting (not air biting, but real biting) and too rough play needs to be addressed immediately (think puppies playing around momma dog - you being the momma dog... Putting the pups in their place if they misbehave). You can use this time to establish your own place in the pack by playing with them. Telling the dogs to drop the toy after he snatches it, not playing the tug game but commanding the dog to drop the toy, will firm up your pack leader place. Taking the toy and throwing it to get someone to fetch and drop the toy at your feet is another thing. And anytime you notice aggression establish your authority.

    A Corso is a ginormous dog. Size doesn't necessarily dictate dominance. I have a bichon frise that dominates the bully. I have no experience with Corsos... I saw one at a pet store once (quite the popular dog there) and that's all of my exposure to it. From what the store guy was saying, Corsos have special training needs so what I was saying in this post may not apply to Bullys playing with Corsos! Yikes!

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    Pooper scooper Sampson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Normal bulldog "playing" and dominance question

    -photo-5-copy-jpg -photo-copy-jpg -photo-jpg
    Also, I want to clarify that when I say I taught Stella to pick a different toy it refers to a certain situation. you see how the dog is on the arm of the couch in the second picture? well, id say 90% of time that the dogs bring the toy up there, they get all situated and what not and then the you falls.... they just stare it, so sad looking lol. Well, when Stella would drop it Sampson would immediately snatch it up lol Stella would go to get the toy back but she would be too slow, in those situations I would tell Stella to pick something different, hand her a new toy to chew on and tell her "good". As you can see from the pictures though, she loves him dearly and wants to be close to him all the time, she will even choose him over me or my bf sometimes! lol and he is really good with her when no possessions are involved, and sometimes he is better than others, it all depends on his mood i guess lol. Im still trying to figure Sampson out, he is unlike any dog/breed ive ever known.

    And yes, this is my first CC, I understand that some people say they are "not for first time owners" but I spent about a year researching the breed and learning about dogs in general, although I am still learning and will continue to educate myself. I am obsessed with my dogs and take training my CC very seriously. I will admit that training an 8 month old puppy that weighs 90 pounds is difficult, definitely requires a lot of my energy and time. My boyfriend actually hates how much time I spend on her lol. My issue has been that I have taken a "back seat" when it comes to training/dealing with Sampson because he is not "my dog" but the longer my bf have lived together the more he has become my dog too, so I think its appropriate for me to become more involved with Sampson.

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    Pooper scooper Sampson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Normal bulldog "playing" and dominance question

    Quote Originally Posted by anatess View Post
    There's a difference in the play growl (its not quite a growl but more like talking) and the aggressive growl. It's not as easy to detect the difference in a happy, well-adjusted dog because it's rare to hear them do the aggressive growling. The body clues that accompany the growling would give a better picture. I'm not sure what you mean by a play stance...

    In general, dogs (and my bullys do this too) like playing tug/fetch/dominate games. They would take a toy and run with it, hoping the other dog (or human) would give chase. Then they protect the toy, then when it eventually gets snatched, they hang on for dear life to play tug. A dominant dog will not let go as much as possible. Whereas, an omega dog will drop the toy after a few pulls unless he wants to flex his muscles to test the dominance of the other dog. If the other dog does not do the chase, the other dog will nip at his feet to get him to chase. If there's no toy, they can still play growl and jump at each other in play. The dominant dog will remain on top while the omega dog will lay on its back or side. All this in play complete with noises. If this was an aggression instead of play, the dog's noise changes and his body will tense up and his head will lower and his butt will stiffen. This can escalate within a few seconds...

    So, what do you do... it's not good to encourage an aggressive dog to play tug unless you're the tugged and you are firmly established as the alpha (even then, it's better to just avoid this all together in aggressive dogs). If he's an easy-going dog, it's fine. The dog play - even snatching toys - is fine as you allow the dogs to find their own pecking order in your pack and they do this safer in play mode. It's good for you to monitor this activity and any biting (not air biting, but real biting) and too rough play needs to be addressed immediately (think puppies playing around momma dog - you being the momma dog... Putting the pups in their place if they misbehave). You can use this time to establish your own place in the pack by playing with them. Telling the dogs to drop the toy after he snatches it, not playing the tug game but commanding the dog to drop the toy, will firm up your pack leader place. Taking the toy and throwing it to get someone to fetch and drop the toy at your feet is another thing. And anytime you notice aggression establish your authority.

    A Corso is a ginormous dog. Size doesn't necessarily dictate dominance. I have a bichon frise that dominates the bully. I have no experience with Corsos... I saw one at a pet store once (quite the popular dog there) and that's all of my exposure to it. From what the store guy was saying, Corsos have special training needs so what I was saying in this post may not apply to Bullys playing with Corsos! Yikes!
    Lol we have two sort of uncommon breeds so sometimes I dont know what to expect or what is normal, and not all trainers have extensive experience with our breeds. I am also on a mastiff forum as I think it is best to get advice from people who are experienced with both breeds. What i mean by playful stance is that sampson never assumes a submissive position or releases the toy. He accidentally bite her face the last time they played tug, he takes it very seriously lol, stella wont hang on the rope endlessly, she will bite at it, like releasing and it then grabbing it. Sampson doesn't play fetch because once he gets the ball or toy we cant get it back. He used to jump on me when I had a toy in my hand but i started making him sit before I would throw it.

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    Default Re: Normal bulldog "playing" and dominance question

    Quote Originally Posted by Sampson View Post
    It's actually the bulldog that is being territorial lol. I was so concerned about Stella wanting to be the dominate one so from day one she relieved a lot of training. I also taught her to pick a different toy when Sampson took hers. She has been extremely easy to train in comparison to the bulldog (he is a stubborn one) and he has obsessions (tennis balls, drills, things that bounce) we seriously cannot have them out without him losing his mind ha. Then there are other things that he could care less about. Stella is still a pup so I don't want to risk her getting feed up one day and then there being a battle between them. I used to take the toy away and put it up if Sampson took it from her mouth, but I never thought to give it back to Stella. We make Stella sit and wait before she can eat but we don't do it with Sampson. They get along well together overall, but I just felt a little concerned about the possessiveness.

    I appreciate all the help and advice! I do know Sampson responds well to positive reinforcement so do you think I should take the you from Sampson say "no" and then after Stella gets it back then give Sampson a treat??
    I suggest not giving any dog special treatment. Do to one the same thing as the other.

    I'm not a fan of taking a toy and giving it back to the other dog. This can foster resentment between the two. The better approach is to stop the taking of the toy itself.

    Okay, please remember, this may not apply to the naturally possessive Corso... But dogs, in general, normally exhibit resource guarding. If one dog considers the toy a valuable resource, he will give a "this is mine, back off!" signal. If its not valuable, he'll just go and find another resource, or do something else. No problem with this. If resource guarding starts to happen, that's when you would step in to manage the situation. The dog who got the valuable resource first gets to keep it. So, when you notice that "this is mine" signal (usually manifested by a certain look which may or may not be accompanied by sound) when the other dog gets ready to take the toy, that's when you need to get ready. The ideal scenario that you want is for the second dog to defer (he gets the "this is mine" message and goes "oops, sorry" - well, if he was human, lol). If the other dog does not defer, he'll challenge the "this is mine" message and would give his own "this is mine, give it!" look with a follow-up lunge for the toy. You need to stop the dog before the lunge. A lot of times, though, a "give it!" challenge causes the first dog to defer and the dogs can live forever with this without problems. But, the problem is when an unfamiliar dog comes in the mix (at the park, at a sitters, when dogs come to visit, etc) the dog could do this challenge to a bad outcome.

    Sorry, I'm being too wordy... as usual... Anyway, in summary - only correct if resource guarding is present. Non-valuable resource to one dog may be given to the other dog with a simple resource replacement. Valuable resources go to the first dog - if it occurs naturally, no need to correct. If challenged, correct before the resource is taken. If you can't stop it before the take happens, it is better to only give that toy to the dog when the other dog can't get to it (in their closed crate or when they're separated). An optional step is to offer the second dog a replacement resource when you successfully stop him from taking the valuable resource.

    Ok, that said... Resource can be anything - toy, food, bed, a spot by your leg...
    Last edited by anatess; 01-25-2013 at 03:40 AM.

    I got Bullied and loving it!
    Bella "Bullie" Rose, adopted on July 24, 2011

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