Big Dog Needs to Learn to Play Nice with Little Dogs

by Alanah
(Brantford, ON, CA)

From Alanah... This is about Oliver again, the 10-11 month old stray-rescue dog, shepherd/collie we believe.

Sometimes we go home and visit my boyfriend's mom who has two small and incredibly in need of training, miniature Dachshunds. They are tiny and have ridiculously small legs and long backs that are prone to slipped disks and other spinal injuries.

Whenever Oliver visits them he has to be leashed at all times with his prong collar. I often make him lay down so he can sniff gently and be sniffed by the little rat dogs (sorry, its what I call them).

When he is sitting or standing though, I have to jerk on his leash to correct him all the time because he likes to swat at them with his paw and I fear for their little backs! He hits them like he is playing that groundhog game where you bash as many groundhogs over the head as you can!

HOW do I help him? I bring him to the dog park a lot and he has played with littler dogs there, but they are usually used to big dogs themselves and let Oliver know... the dachshunds freak out and run, which makes Oliver want to play even more!

How can I work with these dogs to let them bond better without risk of injury?

Shannon Says...

Hello again!

You seem to be going about correcting Oliver the right way. A few things to keep in mind when you are at your in-law's:

1) be sure to correct him no less than 1.5 seconds after the bad behavior for him to "get it"

2) as much as is possible, have his collar up high on his neck and up high behind his ears in the "tender zone", so that your corrections will be most effective

3) SAY NOTHING when you correct him, as you want him to associate the correction with his behavior, not with you or the person holding the leash

4) to correct: loosen the leash for a split second, pop the leash fast and firm in the opposite direction of where he is pulling, jumping or nipping, and then loosen the leash again

If you find that immediately after correcting Oliver, he goes after the small dogs again, your correction has not been firm enough.

I would also suggest that perhaps he is being confused by the fact that he is allowed to play rough with other dogs at the park, but not with these dogs. Dogs learn best when their world is very black and white.

If you are already working with an e-collar as well, I would use the e-collar to correct him for this behavior. You can be on the other side of the room and still be able to correct him in the midst of the undesirable behavior, and he will not associate the correction with you!

I hope this helps you out, but as I said, it sounds to me like you are on the right track.

Take care,

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