Canine Behavior/Puppy play


QUESTION: We have a 5 year old border collie mix. We recently adopted a 10 month English pointer mix. The dogs seem to be getting along. They share toys and are starting to sleep almost touching. They definitely engage in lots of puppy play. The 10 month old sometimes grabs the other dog by the bottom of the throat. He doesn't bite, growl or raise the hair on his neck.  Is grabbing under the throat normal puppy play or something else?

Our dogs are spayed and neutered. The puppy still sometimes tries to mount the other dog. When she scolds him, sometimes he backs off and other times he
Doesn't.  Is this a reason for concern?

ANSWER: Please give me more information about "sometimes grabs the other dog by the bottom of the throat."  Explain situations when this occurs; tell me what the BC does when this occurs.  English Pointers have a "soft mouth", they are not bred to bite with intention to harm.  BCs are bred to control, they are control "freaks" and need a lot of direction and physical/mental exercise.  Tell me, also, what YOU do when the Pointer demonstrates this behavior?

What does the BC do when the Pointer does not respond to her unhappy reaction to mounting?  What do YOU do?

Age five is the absolute threshold of adult behavior in the domestic dog; 10 months is adolescence.  It is possible the Pointer is testing his "spot" in social hierarchy.  In order to advise you properly, in fairness to both dogs and hopefully keep this situation intact in a happy way, I need as much information as possible.

Also: what is "recently"...two weeks, a month, etc.  Describe how you are living with both dogs re: free run of the house, furniture, sleeping places (in your bed, in your room, etc.)

Use followup feature as I will be able to see original question/answer.  Do this as quickly as possible.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: We got the new dog about 3 1-2 weeks ago. They have run of the house when we are
Home. When we are not home, the
New dog is in a crate as fe is still a puppy head. The dogs sleep on the floor in the master bedroom

Day two, they got into a real fight due to mounting. We separated them and scolded tge new diog. He backed off.  Since then He usually backs off when Roxy tells him no. Sometimes he persists then they chase each other and all is fine.

When he grabs her under the neck, she doesn't seen upset. They end up chasing each other and wrestling. Although the pointer is bigger and stronger than the VCD, the be is faster.

Keep the younger dog on a house tab (lightweight leash, handle cut off) when you are at home.  This allows you to remove him from any situation you are uncomfortable with BUT....very important....DO NOT YELL, do nothing, say nothing, walk a few feet away, circle a tight circle, ask for "sit" (train ONLY using positive reinforcement), drop the house tab, walk away.  This is called re-directing behavior; you are interrupting, you are engaging the dog's cognition by circling, you are giving him a "job", and releasing him.  THEN go to your BC, free treat her, walk away.

Three and one half weeks is no time at all.  You've already seen a bit of a problem.  Males usually acquiesce to females but this cannot be said to be true 100% of the time.  Your "puppy" is an adolescent and he is attempting to find a position in social hierarchy in your home.  His temperament might very well be strong enough to take over the position your BC has, and has had.  I can't predict that without more information as time passes.  So:

Go to, Dr. Ian Dunbar's site.  There are free articles, free videos, and lots of information on how to teach/train a dog hands-off and how to interpret body language and dog to dog interaction.  Work on your new dog: take advantage of his inherited ability to "sight" (a/k/a "point") and work with that out of sight of the other dog.  Spend time with both dogs WITHOUT the other dog, especially the younger one.  You do not want him to bond to your BC but to you.  I think it might be prudent, in order to give him the appropriate cue that the BC is higher in social hierarchy, to make the younger dog sleep in the kitchen on soft bed.  We have to watch this situation as it develops.  Your BC is making a strong statement about the mounting, which she should be doing.  Please keep a small record of interactions, especially problems.  In two weeks, use followup feature again to advise regarding what is happening then.  If followup is no longer available, copy/paste this entire exchange (you can save this link to favorite places) and send update to me.

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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