strange dog behaviour - can anyone explain it.

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  1. gramarye profile image60
    gramaryeposted 10 years ago

    Background - I have 2, 2 year old Shih Tzu brothers (from the same litter) When we got them at 8 weeks old, Oscar was larger and heavier than Deefa. Furthermore, Deefa was the litter runt. We gave them lots of fish oil during their first year to help Deefa's brain develop.

    I have tried to work out which is the pack leader, and thought it was Deefa because he always is closer (physically) to me than Oscar.

    However, during the past two weeks, Deefa has demonstrated some very "unpack" like behaviour. Here is what he has done.

    Usually when I'm preparing dinner, they both sit in the kitchen. However, last week, Oscar asked to sit on the lounge, so I put him there (it is winter here and the floor is fairly cold). I prepared everything for the meal, and then the second I turned on the stove and put the frying pan on it, Deefa ran to the lounge and jumping against the lounge tapped Oscar, and then ran back towards the kitchen looking at Oscar and waiting for him to follow.

    Then last night, I gave them their dinner in separate food bowls as usual. Oscar sniffed his, and walked away. He went to the lounge and asked me to put him up. Deefa sniffed his food, then, noticing that Oscar wasn't there, went to the lounge, jumped against it tapping Oscar, then went towards the food and waited for Oscar. I had to take Deefa to his bowl because he didn't want to go by himself.

    Can anyone explain this? BTW neither of them can get up onto the lounge, but they can both jump down.

    1. alexadry profile image96
      alexadryposted 10 years agoin reply to this

      The relationship among social groups in dogs is rather fluid compared to what we are used to believe. According to the APDT quoted " In many households the status of one dog over another is fluid; in other words, one dog may be the first to take his pick of toys, but will defer to the other dog when it comes to choice of resting places." I hope this helps explain why the behavior you are seeing in your dog does not abide to "pack behavior' as we would expect. Best wishes!

      1. gramarye profile image60
        gramaryeposted 10 years agoin reply to this

        Thanks, that was really helpful, and explains a lot of other things they do.

  2. Cagsil profile image78
    Cagsilposted 10 years ago

    I don't have an answer for you, but this could be a question you could always ask K9Keystrokes, the HubPages' resident dog expert(as far as I am concerned). hmm

    I hope someone can explain it.

  3. NetBlots profile image38
    NetBlotsposted 10 years ago

    Warning bells rang when you said you couldn't work out which dog is the pack leader.

    It should be you mate.

    1. gramarye profile image60
      gramaryeposted 10 years agoin reply to this

      They are both my mates, but in their world, they have a social pecking order which means that one is more important than the other. I treat them equally, alternating which one gets the treat first etc...

  4. libby1970 profile image71
    libby1970posted 10 years ago

    You do realize to them you are the pack leader! Neither of them are the pack leader because you supply them both with food, shelter, and love...they see you as the leader.

    I'm sure Deefa was simply trying to tell Oscar that he needs to get in the kitchen to wait for his food! He probably noticed that him being on the lounge is not "normal" behavior and wanted him in the kitchen with you--their pack leader!

    1. gramarye profile image60
      gramaryeposted 10 years agoin reply to this

      Hmmmm that's an interesting way of looking at it

  5. NetBlots profile image38
    NetBlotsposted 10 years ago

    I would also probably seperate them during the day, and let them play together when you say its ok. That way they'll enjoy their play time more too.

  6. Msmillar profile image90
    Msmillarposted 10 years ago

    I have to agree with Libby1970, Deefa was sayin, "Oscar, dude, she's fixin vitals! Get in here or I might eat what's left!" Why Oscar went to the lounge at such an important moment as food can be anyone's guess, but now that this "game" has started it may become habit for Deefa to "tap" Oscar when its time to eat. Dogs just wanna have fun.
    And she's also hit it on the head about the "pack leader".  There is nothing between Oscar and Deefa, it is YOU that they see as their leader and they are merely your minions. smile

    1. gramarye profile image60
      gramaryeposted 10 years agoin reply to this

      Thanks that all makes sense

  7. psycheskinner profile image79
    psycheskinnerposted 10 years ago

    Two sibling dogs will not necessarily have a dominance/subordinance based relationship.  All that is happening is that one is more affiliative (wanting to be together) than the other, at least right now.

    1. gramarye profile image60
      gramaryeposted 10 years agoin reply to this

      Yes, that is a good way of looking at it

  8. Shaddie profile image81
    Shaddieposted 10 years ago

    Dogs in households do not always follow the strict pack order like you see in wolves, if they are content animals.

    Furthermore, I would be much more concerned about your animal refusing food then I would be spending all my hours wondering which of my dogs is "alpha". Does he do this often? This is not something to sneeze at with most dogs.

    1. gramarye profile image60
      gramaryeposted 10 years agoin reply to this

      Thanks for your comment. No, I wasn't worried about Oscar not wanting his food because it was a once off - he usually enjoys his meal, just not that day. He may just have been having a day when he didn't feel very well.

    2. agilitymach profile image94
      agilitymachposted 10 years agoin reply to this

      Good post Shaddie.

  9. Nouveau Skeptic profile image63
    Nouveau Skepticposted 10 years ago

    Wolves don't follow a strict linear pack order either. The earlier research was biased to find that. But wolves also have particular friendships and their attachments change of quite short time periods.

    1. gramarye profile image60
      gramaryeposted 10 years agoin reply to this

      Yes, I've become aware of that since I started this thread. Since learning that, I've been watching them, and in different situations, they change who is leading, and who demands attention and when. I've started to understand them better since learning that pack behavior is not always a correct assumption.

      1. mary615 profile image88
        mary615posted 10 years agoin reply to this

        great discussion.  Good Hub material, huh???  I have two shih tzus and neither of them have ever demonstraed dominence over the other.  They are very polite to one another, and have never been jealous of my attention to the other.  They play together well, too. 
        They are so much alike, it's scary.  With all the fireworks going on, they were both equally terrified.  Both shook with fear.  I gave them a pill the Vet. gave me.  My two truly love each other!

        1. gramarye profile image60
          gramaryeposted 10 years agoin reply to this

          Hi Mary, Its always nice to meet another Shih Tzu owner. My boys are also polite to each other, but they are also very dependent on each other - kind of glued at the hip and shoulder, and always worry about the other. Bath day is pretty bad as each pines for the other when being washed! Couldn't live without them though :-)

  10. Lyn.Stewart profile image69
    Lyn.Stewartposted 10 years ago

    You are the pack leader after saying that I would say that the more domiant out of the two of your dogs is Oscar. People tend to forget dogs have an Alpha Male and an Alpa Female. You are the Alpha female and the pack leader as long as you treat them like a mother pack leader would you wont have much hassle however one of your dogs will be more dominant than the other and could try to become the Alpha male.

    I believe Oscar is the more dominant as when he went into the lounge Deefa let him know when he should be in the kitchen. Deefa also refused to eat when Oscar wasn't present which is a submissive thing to do. Instead he tried to tell Oscar to hurry up it is tea time and I am hungry, I want to eat but I know you need to start eating at least at the same time or just before me.

    The more doninant dog starts eatting first if this helps you at all.

    1. gramarye profile image60
      gramaryeposted 10 years agoin reply to this

      Good points here! Yes, I've noticed that Oscar is a little more independent. He likes to sit on the lounge after we eat, but Deefa has to sit on my lap which is Okay in winter, but in summer it is not on. Therefore, I am teaching Deefa that sometimes I say no and mean it.

  11. recommend1 profile image60
    recommend1posted 10 years ago

    Maybe you are watching a doggie discussion about the food you are giving them, I read the whole thing as "let me out of here, I don't want what you are cooking" and the rest just one persuading the other not to upset you and eat the stuff anyway big_smile  BTW  I am a qualified house trained husband.

    1. gramarye profile image60
      gramaryeposted 10 years agoin reply to this

      Ha Ha, I like your sense of humor!

  12. jjamara profile image60
    jjamaraposted 10 years ago

    I have three female dogs of which I am the pack leader and they all know this but, like your dogs they take turns keeping each other in check with my orders.  If I've called them to come inside and one doesn't come when called one of them will go get that dog.  They also take turns initiating play which sounds a little bit more of what your dogs were doing.  One of my dogs will be sitting on the couch and one of her sisters will just come around the corner and pounce on her and vice versa.  Then they chase each other around the house.  I wouldn't worry about it as long as they listen to you and enjoy each other's company you should be good to go.

    1. gramarye profile image60
      gramaryeposted 10 years agoin reply to this

      Thanks for sharing that. I have learned a lot from all the responses. Sounds like your dogs have a lot of fun, and yes, I'm starting to see my dogs quite differently since I started this thread.

  13. profile image0
    rgmg50posted 10 years ago

    I have two dogs, the dachund is a year older than the jack russel. When Clara (jack russel) joined the household, it seemed as if they were trying to claim who is going to be pack leader, made a lot of noise the first few days. Then on the third day I realised, (ding!) but I am the pack leader. They must have felt it because their competitiveness stopped there and then. They are great friends. I see similar behaviour with Chloe towards Clara. If Clara stays outside to long, Chloe will go and fetch her, same with food etc. Think it is that nurturing instinct, plus they get along wonderfully, and care for each other, so they look after each other.


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