This is really interesting! We’ve recently noticed that our younger dog (she’s 10) is now starting to push Jack off his food and he is just letting her do it without so much as a grumble! Fortunately we already keep them separate at meal times and now we just make her wait if she finishes before him before letting them through the safety gate again.
My Luna is a nightmare. She has always loved to play, has always loved to bumtuck, chase and run with other dogs. Very social. She reacts differently to different dogs. I learnt to trust her years ago to decided herself whether to approach a dog or not. She will do a wide arc of avoidance of dogs that don’t want her near them. She loves boys of maturity age and will roll around and flirt and nuzzle and muzzle lick them.
She will still launch herself at youngsters to charge around and play with them. All that’s changed is her fragility so they can and do knock her flying unintentionally because she seems ‘up for it’. I either have to close my eyes and just pick up the pieces afterwards because I was too late to prevent the situation or wade in like a ‘mean mum’ and grab her and suggest the other person controls their dog while Luna teases and taunts them to play whilst unable to as being held by lead or harness.
I blame adrenaline for ALOT of loony lunatic Luna’s behaviour.
I personally find it all very confusing.
Holly and her mate Tess have known each other for years… they hand out for a few weeks a year when I leave her with my mum, as well as seeing each other every few montsh for weekend walks with my sister. There has never been animosity, bullying, or rough and tumble… its been like two sensibly aged females that get on.
Now Tess is also ridiculously timid, and will lay on her back even when a dog is ten metres away. She doesn’t like crowds, and is a country country dog, scared of anything out of the ordinary.
So to see Tess start running at Holly during manic high speed loops is really out of the ordinary. They didn’t play like that before, so its not Tess trying to get Holly to join in. And you can see Holly give off loads of indicators that she is not playing, cant play, doesn’t want to play… so no eye contact, body positioning etc etc. And its so upsetting to hear her yelp when Tess has caught us out and nipped in behind and knocked her owner… I get so het up and then berate my sister for not having her dog on the lead!!
so yes… I would love to know more too
Here are my thoughts…….having studied both wild and domestic dogs for over twenty years I believe many behaviours we observe could well be ‘intentional’ – not in the way we use the term but in the sense that it is carried out for a particular purpose. Wolves for example will ‘test’ the strength of pack members and position the slowest/ weakest members at the front or in the middle of the pack. In a wild pack there will be a ‘dominant’ dog or sometimes a pair, this is not dominance as we often perceive canine interactions to be, based on aggression but more so determined by experience and knowledge. We could see residual ‘wild traits’ in our domesticated dogs and in multi-dog households we often observe behavioural dynamics being displayed, albeit more subtly. When dogs meet they need to assess and interpret body language (and scent) in order to determine how to interact with that individual. Being on a lead is not a natural scenario for them as it can restrict the way in which they are able to naturally react. Dogs meeting off lead often exhibit different behaviours to those meeting on lead. I have found that when my old arthritic boy is on a lead and a dog approaches he now sits down, off lead he does not do this.
There will always be different schools of thought which is healthy as we can challenge each other. We all bring bias into our reasoning and are open to interpret behaviours we observe differently.
I am fortunate in that I can work, observe and interact with wild candid species and domestic dogs on a daily basis and have collated years of observational data on which to draw conclusions and interpret trends. But can we ever really know why another species behave in a particular way? Behaviour is undoubtedly complex, multifaceted and individual, it is instinctual (fight and flight) transient and learned ( learned helplessness). It’s a fascinating area and one which I doubt we’ll ever have all the answers to. Debate is good and should be encouraged