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  • Con Slobodchikoff, Ph.D.
    Slobodchikoff is President and CEO of Animal Communications, Ltd., specializing in pet behavior problems and in educating people about the behavior of animals.

« Barking Dogs | Main | Running With Dogs »

July 27, 2007


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I don't even understand how I stopped up here, but I thought this post was once great. I do not know who you're however definitely you are going to a well-known blogger if you happen to are not already. Cheers!


I have a 7lb Chihuahua and recently added a 12lb Papillon mix to the home. They seem to be adjusting to each other with few problems, but during a couple of recent play sessions, I noticed the Papillon going for the scruff of the Chihuahua's neck. He doesn't grab hold of his neck, perhaps because I called him off quickly. I'm just worried that if I wasn't there to call him off, that he might do real harm to the smaller dog. They currently don't play unsupervised since we're still in the adjustment period. Could you please tell me if this is normal behavior?


We just recently added a new puppy to the family; making our total dog count 2. The puppy gets along great with our dog molly, but I have some concerns. I noticed a couple days ago that molly had marks on her face "Cheeks" and soon after realized they were from our new puppy cody. When they play Molly towers over him so he grabs the only thing he can reach, her face. Is there anything I can do to help prevent this. I would hate to seperate them, but I am very concerned about infection if her wounds do not heal.


I meet up with a youg couple and their dog at the dog park who likes to nip at my three
Golden Retriever's necks. My Goldens don't like it and the dog persists standing over them while nipping. The owner's say that's how their dogs plays. I know the dog's behaviour is unacceptable but the owners are beligerent to dog language. What can I politely say to them next time without getting into an argument. The woman made the comment that maybe "I" should not bring my dogs to the park anymore if I don't like the way her dog plays!!

Sharon Peckham

This is the first post from your blog that I've read, but I'm excited to have found it - what you say rings true to me. I adopted Jack, a 1 1/2 year-old Golden Retriever mix from the humane society about 4 1/2 months ago. He has always shown signs of inadequate social skills around other dogs, so I took things really slow in getting him introduced to the dog park a few days ago, not to mention waiting until now to take him at all, allowing me to get to know his behavior better. He's done amazingly well playing with the other dogs the last couple of days, but today he was playing with one who kept biting his neck and holding on, even dragging him around a bit. The intensity was higher than I felt comfortable with, and Jack looked overwhelmed. I finally asked the other dog's owner to call him off, but she said that they were playing well and Jack was holding his own. I deferred to her judgment because Jack wasn't actually running or slinking away, but it escalated from there to a point where even the other owner was uncomfortable enough to say something. I broke it up and kept shooing the other dog away until he gave up and moved on to other things. I wish I would have read your blog before I went and that I would have trusted my instincts better, but at any rate I'm glad to find a source for good information on canine behavior. Thanks!


Hi, our female dog has a male doggy friend that comes over to play at our house. After reading this article, I was reassured that most of their play behaviors seem to be normal. But, I am concerned about two behaviors exhibited by the male--constant mounting of our dog and placing his head across our dog's shoulders. When I see this, I give him a time out, but is there anything else I can do to correct this behavior?


My 18 mo Aussie Shepard/Sheltie mix plays too rough with other dogs. She gets plenty of exercise (3 walks a day) and attention. She loves to play and has always gotten along well with all dogs since she was a young puppy. The past 6-8 months her typical play has become more rough and she has a very deep gurgle/growl when she plays with other dogs. She never inappropriately bites or attacks when playing- just has a loud aggressive sounding growl that scares dog owners and startles some dogs. Is this normal and is there something we can do to get her to stop this behavior?


We just recent went from 1 dog to 2 in our household and it has been a new experience for us getting used to "canine play". The challenge has been trying to figure out when it is going to far. Neither dog seems to be getting injured or an unwilling participant. However there have been some unnerving moments especially when teeth start getting bared. We feel like we have to watch them every moment they are outside for fear that things are going to escalate out of control.

What is the best way to correct behavior (other than just separating them) when it seems that things are getting out of hand?

Karen London


I'm so sorry to hear that your little dog was hurt by another dog. That kind of incident is traumatic for everyone. It is not unusual for a dog to react differently to a dog who returns from a long stay at the vet, although Lizzie's response is longer lasting than most. It is hard to know what Lizzie is objecting to, but I have found that strange smells from the vet's often play a role in this kind of response. After several days away getting medical treatment, your little dog probably smells like all kinds of things, some of which may remind Lizzie of her own medical experiences. If your vet says it's okay, do whatever it takes to remove the new smells and get the old ones back (give a bath, play in the mud, swim in the creek, run through the woods etc.) I would also recommend not forcing Lizzie to interact, but do encourage them to be chummy again by taking them on walks or other adventures together. Good luck and be in touch! Karen B. London


i have a female lab who took over as mother to a chi/jackrussel mix..male..2 years ago ..they love each other but the little one was injured by a dog that came into the yard and spent 4 days at the the lizzie the lab wont have anything to do with him..she avoids him..he has been home 3 this normal?

Karen B. London

I am so glad that you submitted your comment because I am worried about your dog and what is happening to her at day care. No, it is not normal for your dog to be receiving bite marks, particularly multiple ones on her neck. You are right to be concerned about her physical well-being. In addition, the emotional well-being of a dog who is regularly being injured by one or more dogs at day care is of concern. If a dog at day care is actually being injured, with bite marks on the neck to prove it, taking that dog out of day care would be a reasonable response. It seems that either the dogs are not being adequately supervised when they are together, or that the people doing the supervising do not have enough knowledge or skill to recognize, prevent, or interrupt inappropriate behavior. Whatever is going on at day care, aggression seems to be a part of it, and your dog needs to be protected from it in the future. Good luck to you both and please let us know how your dog is doing!


I have a 1yr old golden that goes to a doggie day 3 days a week. I've noticed that she has many bite marks on her neck. I'm afraid that she may get really hurt? Is this normal - I know the dogs play rough but is there any kind of collar of something that I could use to keep her from getting so many teeth marks?

Dog Training

Excellent advice! Tugging games should be avoided if the dog is one of the guarding breeds or if the dog is particually dominent as this can lead to behavioural issues.
Regards, Marion

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