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Canine Behavior/Dog Behavior

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Question
I have a Doberman/Lab Mix, and a black Lab full, The Black Lab who is female, received an injury to her upper right leg.  After days of healing I noticed that the Doberman/Lab, who is Male will sniff her wound, and she will stand completely still for him to do so, then he will jab his nose into her neck and attempt to put his head over the top of the back of her neck.  This only started when she got injured and it wasn't even a very big injury. When he does this, her ears lay flat against her head as if being very submissive, and she has never done that before.  Of course neither has he until she received his injury.  What does this mean? and should I be concerned for the female?  I know Wolves and Coyotes when they receive injuries the other dogs will gather and take the injured dog out of the pack... is this happening and should I quarantine my female until she is completely healed??

Answer
Hi Frank -

Due to the medical nature of this question, I think you should consult your veterinarian about the treatment of your black lab's injury and whether separating the two dogs until she is completely healed.  Personally, I would either keep them separated or supervise their interactions until the injured dog is healed. What you describe sounds like a dominance behavior by the male.  If the female has been the alpha or top dog out of the pair, he may be challenging her now that she is not as strong due to her injury.  It would be helpful to know the position of the tail, ears, and facial expressions to make a more informed decision.  A dog putting his neck over the back or neck of another dog is ususally a dominance display, especially if accompanied by a high tail. Your female's ears down could be submission especially if she tries to lay down and if her tail is tucked.  Again, consult with your veterinarian while your dog is rehabilitating and get the necessary advice to make sure she heals properly.  In the meantime, familiarize yourself with canine body language so you can better determine what is going on between your dogs.  It will help you understand their relationship and possible avoid a fight if things get too rough in the future.  You can google canine or dog body language to find some helpful sites.  I have included a link below to get you started.  Best of luck with your pups.  I hope your girl feels better soon!

http://www.pawsacrossamerica.com/interpret.html

Canine Behavior

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Jennifer Ganser, LMT, ABCDT

Expertise

For canines I can answer questions related to behavior, obedience training, health and massage therapy (anatomy, health benefits) For equines I can answer questions related to behavior, barn management, health and massage therapy (anatomy, health benefits) I am not a veterinarian and it is not within my scope of practice as a licensed massage therapist or certified dog trainer to diagnose health conditions. Please contact your pet's veterinarian for illness related questions and emergencies.

Experience

I am a licensed massage therapist for people, horses, and dogs and a certified dog trainer. I teach group obedience classes as well as private lessons. I also work with horses and help barns establish good management practices.

Organizations
Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) National Certification Board of Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB)

Education/Credentials
2009 - graduate of Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy 2010 - certified in canine/feline first aid + CPR by Red Cross 2012 - graduate of Post University equine program 2012 - graduate of Animal Behavior College Obedience program

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