Keep in mind the 2 primary signs you will likely see from the newly adopted dog you bring into your home…
Playfulness: The play bow is a quite sure sign of playful behavior. Each dog taking runs chasing each other, showing their belly while on their back. The low growling and nipping is all a sign of playing, but they could also be signs of aggression. Those are very easy to confuse and you have to do your own due diligence to be able to differentiate the two. For more on this topic, take a look at Normal Dog Play Behavior here.
Dominating: Recourse guarding, mounting the other dog and putting it’s head on his back is clearly dominant behavior. What you perceive as “running away” is actually a natural answer to this behavior. If the second dog would answer with the same kind of dominance, they would probably end up fighting. The second dog avoids a real fight by giving way to the first dog.
Now in my honest oppinion, you should let them figure out their ranking in the pack on their own, withing reason. That means:
- Don’t interrupt every instance of dominant behavior. That leaves them both with unresolved issues, which could easily cause tensions in the near future.
- Do interrupt dominant behavior that has been going on for too long. If the new guy doesn’t get any rest because he’s constantly herded around the house, put an end to it. If the “original dog” keeps the new guy from eating, drinking or defecating, stop him.
- Do interrupt and redirect aggressive behavior. Observe how the new dog reacts to certain behaviors from the original dog to estimate what is mutual play and what is one-sided aggression. If, for example, the first dog starts nipping or growling, the second dog avoids this behavior by turning away or trying to walk away, but the first dog doesn’t stop, that’s aggression. If the first one starts nipping and the second nips back, that’s natural play behavior.
And the most important advice that many people get wrong is to: accept their own rules! It’s already clear that your dogs have a clear ranking. You should accept that ranking and neither treat them absolutely equally, nor pity the new dog or the latter and treat either or the other better.
- Feed the higher ranking dog first! Not observing this rule can lead to fights. If the low ranking dog needs more time to eat or special food that you don’t want the high ranking one to steal, feed them in seperate rooms.
- This includes treats. If you give the same command to both dogs, give the higher ranking one his treat first.
- Don’t make the high ranking dog wait or stay before an open door while you let the lower ranking dog walk through. Just like with food, this is a previlege of the dominant dog. By artificially changing it, you make the low ranking dog challenge the dominance of the other one.
- If there is a high and a low seat for both dogs, let the high ranking dog claim the higher seat. This may seam insignificant to us today, but it’s just as ingrained into our subconsciousness as it is in dog’s. Just a few hundred years ago the throne of a king would not only be the highest chair in the room, it would be the only chair standing at a higher level seated above every other chair.
In addition to that, accept that they are still individuals. I’m not a fan of only providing a single dog bed for two dogs. In addition to the big shared bed, they should each have their own bed in their own pen and be able to retreat to their pen at all times.
Make sure that their pen stays the private place of each dog. The dominant dog must not be allowed to claim the pen of the submissive dog for himself.
And lastly, you are part of the pack! Your dogs are making progress, but if they never get any attention from you, they will eventually ignore you or exclude you from their pack. Often times, problems arise due to boredom because the original dog cannot get attention from you.
Start interacting with them him again, do obedience training with both of them and play or cuddle with them. You don’t want to be excluded from the pack and they don’t want you to ignore them.