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Riley is a 4 1/2 year old dog from a litter that I had bred. He is a neutered male that I may be acquiring because the owner is going through a divorce, planning to move, and feels that she will not be able to take care of him. I have been working with this dog for several weeks. I welcomed the opportunity to work with this dog. This has given me the opportunity to observe dog body language (while interacting with my dog), retrain unwanted behaviors, observe the current owner's interaction with Riley and help modify it, and do some additional obedience training.

Some issues:
1. Counter surfing
2. Unwanted digging in the yard
3. Need for calming
4. Some reactivity, not dog reactive
5. Introduction to my own dog who is a littermate. Actually a reintroduction.
6. Some resource guarding

Riley is really nice looking, smart, and was the pick of the litter. I will not rehome him, I will keep him for myself.

Riley:



 

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He's a gorgeous boy.
 

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INTRODUCING RILEY TO THOR


I like to take my time with stuff like this. Riley of course got a whiff of Thor from my clothes and vice versa. I thought it would be good for the dogs to be familiar with each others scent. This was done over a period of a few weeks. I then had both dogs, seperated, in the same house for short periods---two gates with a "No-Man's Land" in between. This was done for a couple sessions. Then both dogs were walked together on opposite sides of the street. Thor showed interest in Riley but I kept a close watch for body language. Thor's body language was very good. We then had both dogs on leash, across the room. We put them on a sit stay and then released them. They met and had some brief play.


I need to mention that I don't take Thor to dog parks and I have not let him play with dogs, only his mother. Riley has played with other dogs. It was interesting to watch Riley try to play while Thor only gave brief periods of play. Thor has since played more with Riley. It seems that they needed to learn each other. Very interesting to me.
 

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Interestingly enough it took a while for the boys to learn each other's play. Thor is easily distracted from play but returns to Riley to continue. They play chase, keep away, tug, and they like to wrestle. They take turns at being "top dog". Here Thor is offering to go below Riley IMO.
I am thrilled because Thor has had bad interactions with dogs in obedience class. At least three times a dog while off lead has run to Thor to attack him while he was on lead. Typically Thor would put his right paw on the dog's shoulder and then pin him. (Guess who gets blamed.)
 

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I laughed when Thor picked up a piece of rag and literaly rubbed it in Riley's face to taunt him.
 

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I laughed when Thor picked up a piece of rag and literaly rubbed it in Riley's face to taunt him.
It's hilarious to see them tease and beg the other to chase them for the toy. Love the updates and so glad to hear that it's working out so well.
 

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I laughed when Thor picked up a piece of rag and literaly rubbed it in Riley's face to taunt him.
I too find this totally amusing. I now have three and watching they play dynamic is very interesting. I can almost see the wheels turning in their little heads. It's nice to see that they are getting on so well. :smile2:
 

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Riley is a handsome boy. I so liked the photo you posted of Riley and Thor playing together. As you well know, it does take time for everyone to become acclimated. I agree with the comment made by Nolefan that digging may very well be due to a lack of buring off all of his pent up energy. I like that ole saying that a tired dog is a good dog. I would encourage daily hard running tongue dragging play. See if this helps any with the digging issue.

Good luck with retraining. With your experience, I suspect you'll have Riley trained properly in time. Of course patience, love, and consistency will paly an important role in his and your success. Keep us posted.
 

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Interestingly enough it took a while for the boys to learn each other's play. Thor is easily distracted from play but returns to Riley to continue. They play chase, keep away, tug, and they like to wrestle. They take turns at being "top dog". Here Thor is offering to go below Riley IMO.
I am thrilled because Thor has had bad interactions with dogs in obedience class. At least three times a dog while off lead has run to Thor to attack him while he was on lead. Typically Thor would put his right paw on the dog's shoulder and then pin him. (Guess who gets blamed.)
Rukie's Golden friend across the street is 10 months old but now bigger and heavier than Rukie. They also take turns being the bottom dog. They do this funny thing where one goes under the other while he's standing up and tries to run with that dog on his back. I stop it though, it doesn't seem safe. I'm glad Thor likes Riley. Chase and wrestle are such easy ways for them to burn off energy.
 

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BODY LANGUAGE BETWEEN RILEY AND THOR


I frequently comment on body language between dogs. Watching these two boys has revealed a lot. First of all when they first looked at each other Riley displayed only soft signals (my term) as opposed to what happens with almost all other dogs. Thor responded in kind---friendly tail, relaxed ears, relaxed stance. Also they did not stare at each other. I never let my dog stare at other dogs. I have found that one dog will respond to a challenging stare from another dog and excitement/reactivity increases which I don't want.
I also notice that interactions and displays between Thor and Riley are very quick and hard to catch. But I am getting good at it.
 

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BODY LANGUAGE---QUICK COMMUNICATION


I have been watching body language between the two boys closely and have been quick to interrupt if necessary. For example if both enter a narrow passageway from opposite directions I am especially careful that they do not approach directly face to face, nose to nose. Thor sees this as a challenge. Interestingly enough they will approach each other, bypass each other but find a way to avert each other's eyes. It is very quick. They make sure that there is no challenge in their approach. This is very different from encounters with rude dogs.

Also I have been rewarding each dog for displaying calming signals when they look at each other, praise for relaxed posture, relaxed ears and happy tail wag. I do walk around with a treat bag so I can also treat for this.


This is very rewarding for me. I did not grow up with dogs. I am constantly learning.
 

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This is a very interesting thread - thank you! We are considering bringing an adult dog into our household in the next year or two, and I'm learning a lot from you. I'll be following your progress with interest!
 

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BODY LANGUAGE---WHAT HAPPENED TO THE PLAY BOW

When they first met, the boys did give each other play bows as an invitation to play but they were very brief, like under a second. Since then there are very few almost no play bows. Instead they have used other signals as invitations to play. There are different signals for each game. Very interesting to me.
 

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BODY LANGUAGE---GROWLS

I probably won't correct a dog for growling. Growling is dog language. The dog is communicating with a growl. Do we really want a dog that bites without a warning growl?

Although I don't like having toys out when more than one dog is out this situation has exposed both dogs to multiple toys a the same time. They have been pretty good around toys. However there are two high value toys, a certain large squeaky toy (Thor) and a blue rubber dog bone (Riley). Thor approached Riley while Riley had his rubber bone. Riley growled and Thor just reversed direction. VERY COOL! Before I knew any better I would have thought that I had a near fight on my hands. Now I recognize this for what it is---Thor was getting into Riley's grill while Riley had possession of a high value toy. Riley felt uncomfortable, Thor understood the message, and Thor backed away. THIS WAS NOT A KEEP AWAY TOY, THIS IS NOT FOR PLAY!!!

Now growls in general. I did have contact with a reputable veterinary behaviorist at some point in the past. Growls are part of a dog's language. She said we should be thankful that a dog is communicating with us. In fact she recommended that we actually say thank you. The dog has let us know what makes him feel uncomfortable, maybe something we should counter condition.
 
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