Basset Hounds Forum banner
1 - 6 of 6 Posts

4 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have two male Bassets, Pierre and Scaliger, who are about 16 months. Scaliger is the dominant of the two. They have been together their entire lives and have hardly spent a day apart from me. Each has a pet peeve or two. If Scaliger, for instance, is sound asleep on the couch Pierre is not aloud to jump on that couch otherwise Scaliger become angry; Pierre, on the other hand, typically becomes angry over bones. If Pierre, for instance, is chewing a bone and Scaliger hovers over him or tries to sneak the bone away by grabbing the other end, Pierre will give him a little warning growl, and Scaliger always backs off. However, herein lies the problem: once Pierre finishes chewing the bone, he still prohibits Scaliger from having it. If Scaliger even takes a step toward the bone Pierre snaps.
My other problem with Pierre concerns when the two of them are outside running around. Now I can distinguish between them playing rough and being aggressive. If Pierre is worked up and chasing Scaliger and finally catches him, he'll violently grab him and thrash, I guess this is the correct word. If anyone has suggestions how I can adjust their behavior in these instance I would be most grateful.


878 Posts
Maybe males are different to females but I have two sister puppies whom we've had from 9 weeks of age and they never ever growl at anything and least of all at each other! They are quite happy licking out of the same yoghurt pot or butter dish and no problem with bed territory either but ours aren't allowed on the furniture like your are, so maybe they are being territorial over the settee situation! They love a bit of rough and tumble and often do it noisily, and 'bite' a bit at each other but not in a vicious way, just a lot stronger than the similar play they did as puppies!

Edit: Can you make a short video clip of their antics to show us what they do please?

9,844 Posts
Scaliger is the dominant of the two
that woul;d not be a correct assesment you can not call SCALIGER dominante at least in regard to bone when he is denied access to them that is a submisive behavior. In this regard you have what is typical in dog social setting certian thing are more importat to some dogs than other the other dog knows this as well and they work out a situation in which maximize the happiness of both . Trying to say one dog is the dominiate in a ridged pack hierarchy does not work. If that were the case Scaliger should control the couch and the bones and any other desired resource which is obvious not the case. Recent studies have all come to the same conclusion domestic dogs do not form packs or hierarchies.

Dominance in domestic dogs useful construct or bad habit?​
The term ‘‘dominance’’ is widely used in the academic and popular literature on the behavior
of domestic dogs, especially in the context of aggression. Although dominance is correctly a property
of relationships, it has been erroneously used to describe a supposed trait of individual dogs, even
though there is little evidence that such a trait exists. When used correctly to describe a relationship
between 2 individuals, it tends to be misapplied as a motivation for social interactions, rather than simply a quality of that relationship.​


In the present study of a freely interacting group of neutered male domestic dogs, pairwise relationships were evident, but no overall hierarchy could be detected. Since there seems to be little empirical basis for wolf-type dominance hierarchies in dogs, the authors have examined alternative constructs. Parker’s Resource Holding Potential (RHP) appears to be less useful when applied to domestic dogs than to other species, although it has the advantage of incorporating the concept of subjective resource value (V) as a factor influencing whether or not conflicts are escalated. The authors propose that associative learning, combined with V, can provide more parsimonious explanations for agonistic behavior in dogs than can the traditional concept of dominance.​

he'll violently grab him and thrash
I would ask what damage occurs. I here no mention of any damage so can only assume there is none. If the intent was to cause harm rest assure it would have occured.

I highly suggest reading the following articles then come back if you still think there is a problem.

Examines manipulation as part of social life, and the dog's need for clear boundaries & leadership.

Dogs Use Non-Aggressive Fighting to Resolve Conflicts
does anything that looks like aggression between dogs immediately call for intervention?
Because we live with multiple dogs, study dog behavior and work professionally with aggressive dogs, we think a lot about canine aggression. Some dog interactions clearly qualify as aggressive — for example, a dog with a history of initiating unprovoked attacks and inflicting damaging bites is clearly aggressive, and letting her interact with other dogs is dangerous. No one would disagree about this. However, what about cases where teeth are f lashing, spit is flying and the growling is deafening, but in the end, neither dog is the worse for wear? This is a gray area that is so very interesting precisely because it’s often not clear-cut. Are these instances of aggression?
The answer depends upon whom you ask. Even among behavioral scientists, the term “aggression” can have so many meanings that, in effect, it has lost its meaning. For example, behaviorists might use the word “aggressive” not only to describe a dog who has killed another dog but also to describe a dog who growls or snarls at a dog who is trying to take his bone. The motivations and emotions are clearly very different in these two examples. In the first case, the dog intended to do harm and did, but in the second case, the dog was likely just communicating his displeasure. Using the same word to describe two completely different scenarios can affect how we think about and respond to a wide variety of dog-dog interactions.
Perhaps a more useful term to describe growling at a potential bone thief or the interaction between Denny and Meadow is “agonistic behavior.” Ethologists, who often use this term when studying nonhuman animals, define agonistic behaviors as those that occur between individuals of a particular species in conf lict situations. Examples of agonistic behaviors in dogs include threats like muzzle-puckering and growling; submissive behaviors like crouching, lowering the head and tucking the tail; offensive behaviors like lunging and snapping; defensive behaviors like retracting the commissure (lips) while showing the teeth; and attacking behaviors like biting. With the exception of biting that results in punctures or tears, none of these behaviors necessarily indicates intent to do harm. They simply reveal emotion (e.g., anger or fear), communicate intention (e.g., to maintain control of a resource or to avoid an interaction) or function as a normal part of play fighting (e.g., growling, snapping or inhibited biting). To determine if an interaction meets the criteria for “agonistic behavior,” an observer must focus on an objective description of the communicative patterns displayed rather than automatically jumping to judgments associated with the use of the term “aggression.”[/quiote]

So from what you describe is you have a problem with the way the dogs are resolving conflicts in a perfectly natural doggy manor that does not envolve either get hurt. The first question to ask is it the dogs behavior you need to change or your perception and reaction to it?

If you still want to change the dog behavior in regard to resource guarding with each other I would suggest MINE! - A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO RESOURCE GUARDING IN DOGS and for a fair review Click here
While most people are only concerened when the dog resuorce guard in relationship to a human the same principals can be applied to dog v dog resource guarding.

From a practical stand point it is far easier to modify your own behavior and control the access dogs have to resources they guard. If you practice management techniques in which the dog does not have access to things that it guards the guarding behavior ceases. Bones for instance either 1. don't give the dogs bones.
2. Give each dog a bone and pick both up when the dogs are finished.

3. don't allow Scaliger close proximity to Pierre when he has a bone in give bone ony in crates seperate rooms etc.

If Scaliger is resource guarding the couch why is he allowed on the couch?

If the dogs are not nuetered, nuetering may emphysis on may no guarantees deminish tensions between the two as the level of sex hormones drop.

4 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I should have specified that these aggressive fits occur very infrequently, but nevertheless they are a bit alarming when they do happen. The boys share just about everything: the same dog bed (and I guess my bed constitutes the second dog bed), food and water bowls, toys, and just the other day my check book, sunglasses, notebooks, etc. These fits are not spontaneous, Scaliger usually cries when he knows he's not allow to have that specific bone, which signals to me that Pierre will get defensive if Scally makes a move for the bone. My goal is to try to eradicate this behavior completely.

9,844 Posts
These fits are not spontaneous
off course not they are all related to resource guarding. If they were spontanious and without reason you would have no shot at changing the behavior

My goal is to try to eradicate this behavior completely
I would tell you your goal is unrealistic. It is like have a goal of training a dog to never bark. You must realize that resource guarding is normal adaptive dog behavior. and you do not seem to grasp that in these senarios it takes two to tango. The bones for instance Peirre does not need to guard if scailger does not try and steal. So which dog is at? If you interceed on scailger behalf what the dogs learns is by crying scailger can get a bone he would not normal be able to obtain. So he will continue to do this over and over again. If on the other hand you do not interceed he learns he is never going to get the bone and eventual gives up trying and the problem for practical purposes is resolved. Human when they do not allow dogs to settle things among themselves amicalibly do not allow for a resolution and they will allways be called on to mediate.

As for your bed/ couch etc being a second dog bed that is simply not the case. each is clearly different and have differen values to the dog in different situation and that value will change just as the valus of the bone will change new vs old, dedending on who has possesion etc.

It is not an easy read but I will suggest one more
The Social Organization of the Domestic Dog A Longitudinal Study of Domestic Canine Behavior and the
Ontogeny of Canine Social Systems

On the danger of intervening in dog v dog conflict disputes when there is no injuries or damage occuring, I suggest reading

When we interfere, we screw up a lot more dog interaction than we ever fix.

Humans are REALLY bad at reading what’s happening with dogs. We ignore really bad stuff and we stop, even punish, perfectly normal behavior. This is true even when you’re really experienced; I have spent thousands of hours studying this stuff and I am more convinced that I am an idiot when it comes to dog behavior than I was when I began. Maybe when I’m sixty I’ll start interfering, but right now I know perfectly well how dumb I am.

One of the reasons we screw up interactions has to do with the fact that, just like we humans do, dogs have communications that have beginnings, middles, and ends. The beginning is the series of behaviors that initiate the interaction, the middle is the interaction itself, and the end is when the dogs resolve or end the interaction and move back away from each other.

That entire cycle is VERY important. If it is not completed, the next time the dog or dogs tries to interact the “transaction” won’t go as smoothly. Some of the social lubrication will have been lost.

If interactions are routinely truncated, two bad things happen: First, the dogs involved don’t get to finish the conversation, so they get out of practice in how to finish interactions. This is a lot more dangerous than it sounds–every dog interaction is a finely honed and subtle meeting of two animals perfectly prepared to kill each other. Predator-to-predator transactions are not exactly natural, and dogs have evolved an incredibly complex series of behaviors to keep things from escalating into an attempt to physically harm. If they are bad at those behaviors–if instead of suave and smooth talkers they’ve become awkward and tend to say the wrong thing–they are in genuine danger of falling from normal transaction into a situation where one or the other of them will make a move toward a killing attempt.

The second bad thing that happens is along the same line, but it involves those two dogs in particular. If they cannot finish the conversation they began, they do not have a chance to do all the appeasement/backing up behaviors that they would normally do. The conversation is cut off just when things are getting tense. So when the dogs see each other again, they will be more heightened in their interaction than they would have been if they’d been allowed to complete the cycle. This makes them even more likely to need to have a conversation that gets tense, and when they are again separated the stakes get even higher.

...You MUST understand this: DOGS DO NOT MISS. There’s no such thing as “If I hadn’t been fast enough, he would have hurt her.” Trust me, that dog is WAY faster than you. There’s no “Another inch and he would have hurt her eye.” If he had wanted to hurt her eye, he would have hurt her eye. You did not rescue her and you did not stop him. What he did was exactly what he intended to do, no more and no less.

No matter how noisy and scary and huge the interaction is, if the puppy is not hurt (and tiny scores or puncture wounds don’t count–both of them mean that the adult dog was holding his mouth open and not biting down) they should be allowed to finish it. The puppy can get VERY scared. The puppy can scream bloody murder and run. The puppy can get knocked completely over. No blood flowing means it was a normal conversation
they are a bit alarming when they do happen.
No doubt but I am quessing that some of the alarm is you do not understand that it is normal. It is like a married couple I would worry a lot more about a relationship in which arguments including shouting did not occur than ones in which they did as long as it done in a manner that does not involve one getting hurt.

I also want to be clear that when talking about the bone the same dynamic is at work on the couch Just the dogs realitive position to each other has changed because the relative desirability of each object is different for each dog.

You also have the power to end the behaviors today. Simply do not allow either dog on the couch or give either dog a bone behavior ends.

Speeking from experience if these things keep cropping up once in a while it is because the dogs thenselves are not consitent in their behavior. That is there are occsions that pierrre will allow scaliger even if rare just a few reinforcement like this will cause scaliger to keep asking and the same is true about pierre and the couch. but if you do not interceed and allow thing to play out on there own over time the dogs generally learn to communicate a little more subtily
1 - 6 of 6 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.