Bullying

I have a 9 year old girl and an 8 year old boy (from different breeders). Despite the girl being our first, the boy has assumed dominance. Over the last 6 months he has started to bully the girl. He will growl and nip her then smell her butt. It’s sad to see her cower. I will step in and say NO! Then attempt to soothe both dogs but he continues to bully her in this fashion at random times for no apparent reason. Any suggestions about how I can curb this behaviour?

Is there any discernible pattern to his actions? Does he go after her only when you are around, in which case it could be jealously on his part. Personally I would make it clear to him that you won't tolerate his behaviour and that she is under your protection, but whether that will deter him will depend a lot on the relationship you have with him.

I had a similar situation once where my older girl absolutely hated my rescue boy, and she wanted to kill him when he first arrived. I laid down the law and let her know attacking him was not permitted. Interestingly, as he got older the balance of power shifted and I eventually had to intervene to keep him from pushing her around! They never really liked each other and didn't play together, but they did learn to tolerate being together.

First, get a full vet check. Dogs that are sick are often bullied or attacked by the other house dogs.

If that is all clear, then try to separate them. Life being under the fear of attack is horribly stressful to the dog. In nature, if such occurred she could simply leave. Unfortunately, correcting him might escalate things, so make sure when you aren't around that he does not have access to her. Working on teaching him at all times to not approach her, not just when he's bullying, may lessen the problem.

I agree with Debra that any health issues can precipitate bullying. But just getting older can make changes to a pecking order. Was she ever the dominant dog? If an animal loses its position that can result in the former underling taking advantage. Another thing to watch for is whether his actions occur when she does something he takes exception to......and it may be something subtle that you are unaware of. Even a look passing between dogs or body language can sometimes trigger a reaction.

Hopefully you will be able to work this out, but once a pattern is established it can be difficult to resolve. And yes, as Debra says, separate them if you can when you aren't around to supervise.

We. too, have a Basenji rescue male and a female we have had for six years. We got the male about 2 years ago. It isn't so much that he bullies our female as he just bosses her around. She will be laying on the couch and he will come sit in front of her and stare at her until she snarks at him and gets up and moves, whereupon he takes her place. Any suggestions?

My two take it in turns to be boss. Mostly he will nudge her out of their favorite chair in the evenings and occupy it himself but sometimes she stands her ground and refuses to give way. Whichever the loser is, he/she always jumps straight onto Mom's lap for a cuddle. There are enough comfy chairs for us all but one is particularly desirable to the Bs. A large leather recliner.
In the kitchen they have 7 or 8 smallish rugs which they move around to suit themselves, just as long as they are not in the middle of the room where I can trip over them. At night there is some quiet growling after I've gone upstairs but they sort themselves out and settle, sometimes sharing, sometimes not.
Some boys can be bullies and if the lady is fearful they will often persist. But Mom has to establish herself as pack Alpha and let it be known that such behavior is not tolerated. Sometimes bullying is a manifestation of a feeling of insecurity. They must both get the same treatment to prevent any jealousy -
Separating them can make the situation even more difficult. Living with two 'teams' is never easy. If a door is left open inadvertently, a fight can be triggered. And crating by turns is not the answer either - Basenjis do harbor grudges

A story I base my opinion on:
My niece, 3, had a handful of M & Ms.We watched as she handed one to my son, 1 1/2, and ate 2-3. Then, handed him one, and she ate ate 2-3.
It seemed so unfair to their Grandma, she told her no, give half to your cousin. So she did. Immediately, my son started crying. He was HAPPY with the way it was being done originally.
Lesson learned - don't interfere, if they're happy, we're happy.

So I kept the same attitude with the basenjis (I was told in the very beginning they are like perpetual 2 yr olds)

If the dogs work out how to deal with each other, without hurting each other, I let them go. In any group of dogs, wolves, etc., there's going to be a pecking order. I remember reading many years ago, a dog is happiest if it knows it's spot in the pecking order, trouble happens when they are not sure of where they are in that order.

That is the reason my dogs are fed in their crates. If not, those lower on the pecking order list wouldn't eat without causing fights.

My husband has developed a system for when he lets the dogs 'lick his plate' (one of their most favorite things to do). He has 3 dogs sitting in front of him. He says a dog's name and lets that dog lick. The others wait patiently because they know their turn is coming. Then, he says the name of another, and lets that one lick. The others wait patiently. He always starts and stops with the 'alpha,' and it's amazing to see them waiting for their turn. They are not like kids, they don't think "Hey, he got more than me"

It also shows that HE is the supreme alpha!
It's funny, when they feel it is mealtime and 'mom' is not showing any signs of getting their food, they go over and bother HIM, after trying to tell Mom, because they know a lot of times if he says something to me, I will probably leave what I'm doing and feed them.

While if the dog isn't doing damage to the other, letting them work it out is a good idea... but if the dog is bully so much it is stressing the other dog, that's a whole other ballgame. The "support the alpha" works great with establishing relationships. But when things change in older dogs, it can be the signal of some serious issues ahead.

Having heard of dogs killing the other dog if people keep interfering, I'd rather separate them if the dog is being severe. I can have 2 dogs in the same room and train them not to go near each other... they aren't being put into isolation from me.

Often, btw, the seeming "alpha" isn't always the most food aggressive. Nor is the "pecking order" as solid as first thought. Sadly, old studies on CAPTURED wolves still dominate what people believe, even though research for 10 years have proven that nearly everything we thought about pack order, dominance, food/resource rights, etc is totally wrong. For anyone interested, a few links:

https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/dog-behavior-and-training-dominance-alpha-and-pack-leadership-what-does-it-really-mean

https://io9.gizmodo.com/why-everything-you-know-about-wolf-packs-is-wrong-502754629

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