Monday, 28 September 2009

Bad Dog, Kenya ...

Bossy Dogs

Does anyone else have a bossy dog who uses her voice to terrify other dogs? Kenya is never vicious, but she sure looks and sounds as if she is. The other dogs seem to get it (and get over it) fairly quickly, but some dog owners get quite frightened.

Yesterday two old dogs came for their initial visit. They nosed around the house as all dogs do ... and Kenya went into one of her hissy fits when one of them sniffed the basket of potatoes. It was her second hissy fit ... the first occurred at the front door when the dogs attempted to get in past us rather than waiting ...

This time I crated her until she calmed down and gave the other dogs a chance to wander around till they felt comfortable without her to oversee and criticize their every move.

She cried occasionally from the crate.

I reassured the two friends that Kenya was all talk and no teeth, and that the first meeting and first day were all it would take to ensure that all three dogs would get along. But I also told the owner that if she wasn't feeling comfortable I understood and it might be better if she found a different situation for them ... a kennel or another boarding situation if she was going to worry. I mentioned that Erin who lives near them had taken on dogs I didn't have space for, and said they might be more comfortable leaving them there.

After fifteen minutes I asked the women if they wanted to try again. Okay. I let Kenya out but made her sit and look at me and told her she had to be calm. She came into the dining room in a much more civilized manner and behaved like a much better hostess. Everyone got cookies and pats and the women decided that it would be safe to leave these old souls with me for a few days.

I'd like some advice from anyone who has a dominant female dog, and has gone through this. I know that some bitches like Mica have got over the nastiness and become comfortably dominant. Is there anything I can do to hasten the process? Crating works but only after the fact.

I'd like to discover a way to train Kenya out of scaring the hell out of pet owners without interfering with her basic personality as a dominant dog.

These dogs, by the way, did nothing to make Kenya be that nasty. She could have simply said quietly. "The house rule is that no one eats anything Oma doesn't give them, so don't bother sniffing." She didn't have to threaten them with the death penalty.


zoom said...

I've always had the impression that you liked and encouraged her bossiness with other dogs, and that you consider her your partner in dog-sitting. If Kenya's under the same impression as me, you might have trouble discouraging the behaviour you've been rewarding for years. (But the dog whisperer might have some ideas.)

Oma said...

I AM fine with her telling other dogs how to behave ... and you are right I like the fact that she helps me ... but this is more like verbal bullying than understandable annoyance with misdemeanours. And of course ... she is just a dog ... but she only does this with brand new dogs (or really badly behaved dogs) so it only surfaces when we have the meet and greet ... and not always then.

Erin Kuhns said...

Cut Kenya some slack. She's probably just PMS-ing. A glass of wine and a nice massage and she'll come 'round.


Oma said...

Erin: she's fixed ... and past the adolescent crazies ... and it only occurs with some new dogs who are not completely confident themselves. With secure dominant dogs (generally older dogs, both male and female) she accepts her second place. With most dogs nobody asserts dominance or Kenya does so when they misbehave. But there is this initial meeting thing especially with wimpy dogs or dogs that are unused to other dogs that I really don't think wine and a massage will help!

Zoom ... who is the dog whisperer?

Erin Kuhns said...

Well, then wine and massage could help YOU. :)

Oma said...

Lots of wine flows here ... but massages are in short supply. Good idea!

Mud Mama said...

Well, I think if you allow her to boss them around when you're watching them then the first meeting is always going to be like this - that's her best chance to assert her place. So you need to decide if it's merely an embarrassment and deal with those feelings yourself, or if it is hurting your ability to get clients and change the dynamic all the time.

The dog behaviourist Zoom mentioned (Cesar something or other) is very clear that YOU need to be the dominant one in the house at all times - you are not to allow a pecking order to evolve that has any dog above another dog as an enforcer. So perhaps you need to look at your role during these meetings and focus more attention on enforcing the rules with the visiting dog so Kenya doesn't get the chance to.

Oma said...

I guess the problem is that I understand dogs checking out a new environment and would not do anything to stop them but Kenya thinks they are doing something wrong. EG Sniffing the potatoes to her is a prelude to eating them.

If I tell a dog to stop doing something when I am dogsitting, Kenya often reiterates what I have said in dogspeak.

Embarrassment certainly plays into it ... likely more than losing a customer.

I will think about all of these things before the next meeting occurs and decide how best to handle it.

Thanks for your input.

zoom said...

The Dog Whisperer: