Hi! In the past I have gotten wonderful tips and tricks simply from reading the posts and now find myself in desperate need of advice. I am wondering if someone out there maybe able to help me out with a herding(at least that's what I told it is) behavior one of my dogs is using. Duke is a Great Pyrenees/Lab mix leaning much closer to the Pyr side then lab. His "sister" Kota is a Rotti/lab mix. They are truly the best of friends, and playtime is their favorite thing in the world. However due to Dukes leg grabbing & hips/side/back nipping their outdoor play time together is being limited.
Anytime Duke & Kota are playing together as soon as Kota runs, Duke will chase her and grab her hind leg, once he has a hold he will attempt to pull Kota backwards. If he can't get one of her legs he will try to grab at her hips/sides/back. Because she has short hair he's actually getting skin and leaving cuts.
Kota is getting some "battle scars" from where he has grabbed her doing this. So far nothing has been serious but I'm concerned one of these days the injury will be much worse then a cut. So far Kota is very patient and never been aggressive when he does this, but I'm afraid one day either she is gonna have enough and retaliate, or Duke is going to break her leg or injure her.
My husband and I aren't sure how to even begin to correct this. We've been told it's a herding behavior and it can't be corrected. We have also been told to simply muzzle Duke during playtime. I would only do that as an absolute last resort.
When Duke does begin to go for her legs Kota will turn around a simply growl at him, Duke doesn't even flinch at that, then she'll try to sit and he just continues to grab at her. Often she'll just lay down until he leaves her alone or we've have removed him from the situation so he is no longer able to bother her. So far we have tried to get Duke to play ball one on one with us, simply hollering NO anytime he attempts to grab at Kota, he is kept on a long run due to his tendency to wander off so we have begun yanking the run and pulling him away from her while hollering NO, we have given him timeouts where he has to come and sit next to one of us for a few minutes while Kota continues to play, we have not allowed him to play at all after the very first time he grabs at her while allowing Kota to finish playtime. Quite truly anything we could think of, we've tried.
Duke is not a fetch dog as is common with the Pyr's, he mostly just loves to run around with his friends. I have been watching carefully and Kota is the only dog he does this to. I've been told this is because they are "siblings" he sees her as his responsibility so this is why he try's to herd her. I will be looking at other avenues (working w/ trainer, etc) to attempt to correct this, but any advice anyone has to offer would be hugely appreciated. Thanks in Advance!
Hi – the first thing that comes to mind when reading your post is to ask how much exercise you are giving Duke. Keep in mind he is part herding dog and part retriever – two very high energy breed categories. The behavior your mention is very common among the herding breeds. These are very smart dogs who will take the pack leader position if you permit it. You have to assert the leadership position! Duke may have already taken the position as leader and is engaging in this behavior as a way of asserting himself. My two German Shepherd adult dogs did the same thing as young dogs; that is, they did it until I took the lead and taught them to direct this energy and drive to something acceptable. My male GSD drives our horses out to pasture every morning and brings them in at night. My female rounds up the ducks and “watches” them in their pen. We also make sure that both dogs get lots of working type exercise daily. By this I mean focused play; carrying a backpack full of water bottles; long walks in the woods and swimming in the pond when the weather is decent, plus obedience work daily – even though they are not ten years old.
When both dogs were puppies – they are six months apart in age – we had them playing together daily. They would grab at each other’s legs, ankles, sides, etc. and sometimes it looked as if all hell was breaking loose. There was a lot of growling, barking and what looked like fighting. However, it was all play to them. We started directing that play to more appropriate action that included all the above activities plus at least 30minutes of true obedience training daily. We also have a 4 month old GSD who has these same habits, but now we know how to direct this energy into something better. Incidentally, the only one who ever “got” fetch is the adult female. Don’t expect your herding dog cross to fetch – while it may be natural to the retriever side, it may not be natural to the herding side. The bottom line: you won’t solve the problem without directing the herding drive to something acceptable and by taking the leadership role with your dogs.