Don't pee on the new dog roommate! Help me with my dogs' new behavior.
September 25, 2013 5:31 AM   Subscribe

Why is my dog, who is generally well-behaved, displaying this dominance-related behavior with the new roommate dog and how can I correct this behavior?

My dog, a male Golden/Ibizan Hound mix who is 1 year 4 months old, just moved into our new home with my girlfriend and I. A couple we are friends with are also moving in, and they have a male 4 year old German Shepherd/Chow mix.

Let me start by saying that the two dogs get along great! My dog is a little larger, and more puppyish, so is a little more active and slightly more annoying. They both play together great, have shared food/drink bowls without issue, and haven't gotten into any scraps. So far so good. They are both not very territorial, and don't seem to display dominance related behavior, until recently.

Since the other dog has moved in my dog has regressed somewhat in terms of behavior. He's had several bathroom accidents on the other couples side of the house (away from my stuff, and my dogs stuff). A couple times there was a trail of urine, and he even went #2 once up there too. That might have been acting out since we had been moving and not giving him as much attention as normal.

In the last week the behavior has ramped up a little bit. My roommates moved in their dog's bed, and my dog without hesitation, and in front of everyone, went up to it and peed on it. I reprimanded him, took him outside, and then crated him. He seemed to know the behavior was bad behavior. Also, last night I observed them playing, sometimes they get into a position where they look like they are going to hump, but don't really go for it. Well, last night I observed my dog hump the other dog twice, not only that, but when the other dog seemed to be done playing, my dog went up to him and peed right on him/next to him. He seemed to know it was wrong because he ducked his head and slunk out of the room.

My dog, in the year plus that I've known him has humped probably like 3 or 4 other dogs. It's very rare, and I've never been able to pinpoint why. Usually they are older, male dogs, that he seems to want to play with. He's never exhibited dominance related traits and has been an all-around good dog, albeit somewhat high energy.

Fellow mefi'ers, how should I respond and correct this behavior in my dog so that he can enjoy his new roommate, and I can trust him to be loose without causing messes? Up until this month he hadn't had an accident in several months. I was blaming the stress of the move, but this new behavior has slightly changed my opinion on what's going on. Any advice would be much appreciated.
posted by OuttaHere to Pets & Animals (8 answers total)
I had the same issue when I introduced another dog into my home with my existing dog. I bought this pheromone collar/plug in (if you search google you will find a few examples). Fortunatly, I was just babysitting a dog for about a month/two so the problem was resolved once the second dog left. My dog became destructive (never had in the past) chewing walls, anything in sight, having accidents in the house. I spoke to a lot of people to try to correct it, but it was just a jealousy/anxiety thing with you. When I bought the peremone collor/plug in, it was the last couple weeks when I had the second dog and my dog was much calmer and showed less signs of anxiety. Worth a shot...sorry I don't have much other advice.

Try to get your "originial" dog a lot of attention one on one, feed him first, give him a treat first, etc. Hope it gets better! Maybe once he settles into the home and feels his way around, and finds his "role" in the pack he will feel better. My dog always prefered to be crated (not for very long) but its a comforting thing for her, some dogs hate it, but she would gladly walk in and stay in for a while. GOOD LUCK!
posted by BrandNewMe at 5:38 AM on September 25, 2013

Are these dogs fixed?
posted by DarlingBri at 5:44 AM on September 25, 2013

Response by poster: Both dogs are neutered, yes.
posted by OuttaHere at 5:50 AM on September 25, 2013

I'm not a vet or a dog trainer, but in my experience as an owner and dogsitter, it sounds like your dog is attempting to affirm that he is higher than the other dog on the dominance spectrum in the household.* His slinking away and knowing that the behavior was "bad" is just affirming your position as higher than him, it doesn't really affect his behavior around the other dog, he's not connecting them. Those two dogs are really going to have to figure it out among themselves, because until they do, your dog will continue to try to force his dominance. Once the pecking order is established, this behavior will probably stop. In the meantime, if I were in your position, I'd really step up the structure in the household by enforcing crates at night, scheduled feeding and walking like clockwork, scheduling play time and the end of play time, and possibly even tethering. Your roommates would want to consider the same. If this is a long-term situation, it might be worth it to bring in a behaviorist for a consult, which shouldn't be more than a hundred bucks or so.

*I don't really subscribe to the Cesar Milan school of "force your dominance over your dog!" but it does seem pretty clear that dogs in houses like to have a pecking order, and will establish one regardless of your involvement. May as well go with the flow.
posted by juniperesque at 6:16 AM on September 25, 2013 [4 favorites]

Have you tried taking them on long walks together? That way they can learn to be "equals" of sorts both below your/your roommate's command. It's also easier to start changing old-dog's behavior toward new dog outside of the old dog's "territory" -- so not only away from the house, but also on a new route that the old dog isn't familiar with.
posted by melissasaurus at 6:57 AM on September 25, 2013

My dog had a lot of similar behaviors when we first moved into a roommate dog situation, and my roommate's idea was to make both dogs understand they were equals and they were 'below' the house humans--so as much as possible, they sat together to wait for food, down-stay while my roommates and I watched movies or hung out, long walks/hikes tight on leashes together. The bad behavior thankfully stopped after a couple months.
posted by justjess at 7:47 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding taking them on walks together - it's a fantastic way to introduce dogs and help them get over hostilities.
posted by zug at 9:41 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Move both dogs further down the hierarchy. Not in a mean Cesar Milan boss them around way, but in a firm gentle way. We have a dog that wants to be the boss of the whole household and when we bought a new dog in it caused all sorts of peeing and acting up problems. Things that helped us was putting him in his place in relation to us, in a firm but calm way. Also as the new dog really didn't mind being bottom dog and was a peace maker, we actually reinforced the assertive dogs position over the other dog so he didn't feel the need to keep doing so himself.

So, as an example, both dogs sit to get fed, more assertive dog gets his food put down first. We go out doors/gates first, bossier dog next then quiet dog. We also did lots of fun things together with the dogs so that the bossier dog started to see the new dog as a friend and not just competition. So lots of walks and outings together play times with all of us on the floor, and slowly our "boss" dog has lost his need to show the other dog who is boss all the time as his position isn't under any threat.

As a side note I'd stop the food bowl sharing and give each dog their own bowl at meal time. They might not use it but the giving out of food and the order it is given out in is a powerful rank indicator in canines. Even if it's only a few second difference. Also I recommend those pheromone collars, they don't always help but they can be a great help and worked with our guy.

The humping is usually a dominance thing not a sexual thing and it's probably best to just let the dogs do it if the dog being humped doesn't mind. I know of a female Maltese that tries to hump boxer every time they meet just to remind him who is boss. As a side note, my quieter dog will actually very rarely try and hump the more assertive one to try and get him to play, but he was badly socialised as a pup (before coming to us) so doesn't always give the right signals.

The housetraining going backwards might just be a stress reaction to all the changes too, he is still pretty young and when a dog is stressed housetraining is one of the first things to go. Maybe a bit of positive reinforcing of correct housetraining might help there, praise for peeing outside, more going outside to go potty chances, keep the dog near you that sort of thing.
posted by wwax at 10:25 AM on September 25, 2013

« Older Dating men with children   |   Fragile, delicate, tarnished brass necklace. How... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.