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Dog pack – Alangus Mini Aussies: A Dog Blog
Oct 092012
 

I now have have five dogs at my house, one neutered male, one in-tact male puppy, one spayed female and two in-tact females.  It is a mix of sizes from 12-28 pounds and personalities.  My dogs have a definite pecking order and as I have written before, it is quite interesting to observe, fun actually.

In my “before Mini Aussie life”, I owned a spayed female German Shepherd and at the same time, a spayed standard Aussie.  Both were beloved pets and lived long lives, past 14 years for my Shepherd and past 16 for my Aussie.  However, 12 of those years, those two dogs could not be in the backyard together, much less the same room or we would have an instant dog fight to the death of most likely the smaller dog.  They started out as good friends, with my Aussie raised from a puppy and the Shepherd added two years later also as a puppy.  All was well until the Shepherd reached maturity and one morning when I was letting the dogs back into the house from their potty time, a voracious fight ensued at my back door. Luckily, I had pepper spray on my counter and let them both have it because I was otherwise defenseless and knew my Aussie was going to die.  My Aussie girl did not have the personality to cry “uncle” and my Shepherd out weighed her by 25 pounds.

I have to admit that perhaps I triggered the scuffle, but body language is so subtle, I don’t know for sure what I did because it was like every other morning as I was leaving for work.  I was in a rush and had the day on my mind.  A few months later, the second fight occurred with totally different circumstances.  This time, I was not in sight but heard their “noise” in the back yard and quickly dumped a bucket of water on them to break up the argument.

From that date on, our house became one of two separate dog apartments.  Both got people time and training.  Both were loved for the next 12 years.  But there was no way I was going to let them together in my presence because it was so traumatic for me that I knew they would sense my insecurity and both were large dogs with the ability to do damage, even to me, if their aggression to each other might be redirected.

I’ve had dogs all my adult life and once again I’m managing a multiple dog household, but it is totally different.  Now, my dogs are small enough that scuffles are easily handled.  Second, I know much more about dog psychology and pack behavior so hopefully, I can forgo the extreme situation from before by better understanding what exacerbates a playful wrestling match into a real fight. I might add that although I dearly loved my German Shepherd and she was better than ADT for keeping intruders away from our home, I would be hesitant to own another female of that breed because of their tendency to be argumentative with other dogs. She was very people friendly, but never saw another dog she didn’t hate.

I personally think that one dog can be lonely, two dogs each have a pal for comfort and exercise and three make for lots of interaction. Those of us that have more than three need to understand dog language and behavior to keep the peace.  I found an excellent source of suggestions for multiple dog management at

http://www.shirleychong.com/keepers/archives/many.txt

Because I do not have contact information for Ms. Chong to ask her permission to post her text, but you can copy the link into your browser to read.  The article is simple and makes perfect sense.

One of my adult females is with another breeder today, my two young ones are at doggy day camp so only two of my five are at home with me.   I miss part of my pack and  will be glad to have them all back home again. Yes, it can be loud when they are all bebopping around, but we have a lot of fun!

 Posted by at 8:21 pm
Aug 222012
 

Nika from Fancy & Randy’s 2011 litter boarded with us this past week.  Like the other siblings that I’ve posted pictures of, she is a model Mini Aussie and could walk right into the show ring and turn heads.

This litter at 9 months has a range of sizes which is typical of the breed.  Remember, these dogs have been bred down from the full-size model so genetics come into play with weight and height, just like it does with humans.  I can predict adult size at 8 weeks old, but absolutely no guarantees.Technically, Mini Aussies (Mini American Shepherds)  are 13-18″ at the withers.  If smaller, they show as a Toy Aussie and if taller, a Standard.

When Nika came in with her family, she was greeted by Rosie and Swagger, the two young ones.  As is always the case when dogs greet, there was lots of sniffing and head turning, but because all three were puppies, it didn’t take long for them to determine there was no threat.  At that age status doesn’t factor as highly and playtime is the preference.

Nika’s owners asked if Fancy would remember her puppy so I brought her downstairs to visit.  It was obvious that even if she remembered, rank was more important to her as an adult dog.  Nika, coming from an only dog home, hadn’t mastered the “don’t stare” rule of dog language so Fancy raised her lip at her to let her know that her forwardness wasn’t appropriate.  Fancy also mounted her as an indication that she was higher status, at least at this point in their “conversation”. Did she remember?  Hard to tell, but definitely if she did, it was not important.  Nature’s way.

As the day passed, I introduced her to the other dogs in the pack one at a time.  Ike saw no challenge to his leadership from a young female, so after some sniffing and asking Nika in his way to show submission,  that was that.  Izzy, the dominant female, is typically welcome to other young dogs as was the case again this time.  Nika got with the program and rolled on her back and offered her belly to Izzy to indicate that she was no threat to the pack order.

Once everyone had been introduced individually, it was time to let her be with the whole pack.  No problems and Nika now better understands how to merge into a group of dogs peacefully.

As the week progressed, the dynamics of the six dogs was interesting to watch and my husband and I observed very clearly the order of ranking.  First of all, sexually immature  puppies like Swagger, typically don’t figure much into the mix because they are not big enough to eat at the big table.  What did happen, however, is that Fancy, my lowest ranking adult, tried to elevate herself by showing dominance over Nika, not with aggression but with her body language of standing over her.  When she took that position, Izzy came in from the fringes (always watching) and would stand on her tiptoes and give Fancy the evil eye.  That’s all it would take to let Fancy know…too bad, you are just who are and rank hasn’t changed.

The most interesting event that made it very clear who was number 1 and 2 occurred when Fancy was playing with Nika and we heard a little squeak from Nika.  Ike dashed over pronto to check on the situation in his quiet benevolent way to show he’s the “man”  in this house and he doesn’t tolerate any rowdiness between his underlings.  Almost at the same time, Izzy came over and did her stance just in case.  You can’t help but smile at how they keep peace.  World order would be less destructive if humans would acquiesce as easily.

It was nice to see how one of my puppies has developed and reminded me once again that the ones coming from my lines are turning into very nice dogs, both in looks and personality.

 Posted by at 9:25 pm

Dog Pack Dynamics

 Alangus Aussies, Dog pack, Uncategorized  Comments Off on Dog Pack Dynamics
Feb 262012
 

I own a pet sitting business and now have 4 dogs of my own and it is very interesting to watch dog pack dynamics play out where they are multiple animals.

My four dogs have very different personalities, either by inheritance or upbringing I’m not totally sure. Well, I should say three because Rose is only 9 weeks old so she’s just blending into the pack.  Contrary to what some people think, the loudest or bossiest is often not the highest ranking dog.

My neutered male mini Aussie will be 7 this summer and was raised in a kennel environment until I adopted him at 2 years old. My Izzy has just turned 3 and was raised from a puppy at my house, as was Fancy who is 2. All three are house dogs. Rose, from Fancy’s litter, is the baby. 

Even though Ike is neutered, he definitely has his harem. He is the benevolent leader of my pack. To an outsider observing, I’d predict you would guess that Izzy is high rank since no one questions her when she goes for a toy or raises her lip when one of the other dogs goes near her treat or food bowl.

How do I know Ike is top gun?  The tell tale signs are in our every day routine. Each morning, my dogs are let out to potty as soon as I get up. Ike quickly comes back to the door to come in, knowing the next thing on the agenda is breakfast. However, he’s not settled until the girls are back inside as well.  Anytime, his pack is separated he spins and barks, his signal to me that I need to gather everyone together.  He is never relaxed until all are safe and accounted for.

When we have playtime outside, and the dogs do their chase and run, Fancy and Rose roll over telling Ike he’s the man. Again, Izzy has her frisbee in her mouth almost always as she runs around and no one challenges her for it. However, were I to toss the frisbee, it would belong to Ike..no questions asked.  Izzy would not roll over but she would lower her body in a submissive pose telling me she does understand. 

Ike is also always the one to alert first when there’s someone uninvited nearby and expects his girls to follow suit. If they don’t, he circles once again to get everyone involved in the foray. When I quiet him, the girls know the party’s over. 

Ike can quietly rule the roost…until I come home! 

 Posted by at 7:58 pm