Monday, July 20, 2009

Not Mommy Socialized?

When Theo was a puppy, he got picked on sometimes by the older, wiser dogs. In other words, he got his nose chomped a few times for being a young whipper-snapper, which is the doggy equivalent of saying "get off my lawn!" Now that Theo is the ripe old age of 19 months, he's been displaying some crotchety tendencies of his own.

Let me start off by telling you something about Theo I don't think I've shared before. It's never quite come up, but Theo is a ridiculously submissive dog. Greeting a dog goes something like this: Theo sees dog and ears-back-nub-wiggling ensues. Theo and new dog meet nose to nose for about half a second before Theo rolls onto his back and spreads his legs wide for maximum goods exposure. After new dog is properly acquainted with Theo's scent, Theo will then, if permitted by the other dog, take a brief sniff of his own before either continuing to be submissive by licking the other dog's muzzle, or finally initiating a wee-bit of head jumping. Sometimes Theo will just stay on his back the entire time, even if the other dog is trying to initiate play. Either way, Theo always has an adorable look on his face that says "I'm totally non-threatening, I just want you to love me." Thankfully, he's not submissive to the point where he's scared oruncomfortable. He doesn't do submissive peeing and he never looks stressed out. As long as the dog isn't super dominant, he enjoys the encounter.

Of course, none of that applies to puppies. Theo was bullied as a puppy, so of course, now that he's big and threatening himself, he feels it's his turn to show the puppies their place.

Now, let me tell you about Fireball. He is a new puppy (~8 months old, I think) who was just adopted by someone in the neighborhood (this person already owns a dog of similar breed named Snowball, who Theo's age). I've come across Fireball while walking Theo three times this last week. Fireball is freaking adorable! He's one of those indistinguishable white, fluff dogs (usually some Poodle, Maltese, Bichon mix). He loves everyone. He loves to be pet, he loves to put your fingers in his mouth (but completely gentle), and he loves to jump all over you. He also likes to jump all over other dogs.

Theo does not like Fireball. Snowball he has no problems with. They've played together several times with no incident. Fireball, however, is a puppy. A peon. Not only does Theo growl at Fireball...he bares his teeth, very ferociously. He even snapped at him! He basically did every kind of dominant behavior you can think of, just short of straight peeing on him (which I wouldn't have put past him, given time). I was not pleased. Besides the fact that it's horribly embarrassing for my dog to be snapping at the sweetest dog on Earth, and besides the fact that it's not a behavior I will put up with for one means I can't play with Fireball! Who gets the short end of that stick? Moi!

On our second meeting, Fireball was learning not to jump all over Theo, and Theo was learning to let Fireball give him submissive kisses without snapping at him. Everything looked like they might, maybe, in time, get along. Then I reached out to pet Fireball. Oh my, was that a bad idea! Theo went ballistic! You know, in his adorable, ridiculous, Corgi way. Meeting over, we were on our way. No fair! I want to pet the puppy!

The experience made me realize that while Theo has always been well socialized with other dogs (puppy classes, doggy daycare 2-3 times a week, dog park visits, etc.), he's not necessarily well socialized when it comes to sharing Mommy. He has never liked it when I give another dog attention (though usually if there's another owner there to give him attention, he doesn't care as much), but since he's usually submissive, he doesn't raise a stink. He just gives me a pathetic look that says "how could you?" But since Theo takes the dominant role with puppies like Fireball, he has no problem telling them to back off of his Mommy in a very rude manner. I wonder, is that something dogs can get over with time and practice? Or should I count myself lucky that, thanks to his chicken-like ways, I'm able to pet other dogs at all?

As a hilarious aside, have you ever seen a 150lb Malamute act possessive with his owner? Sanook, whom I've mentioned before, does not approve of all the love his owner gives Theo (which is a lot, Theo eats this guy up with a spoon!) when we see each other, so he's taken to positioning his (humongous!) body between them and then leaning into his owner, causing him to either get up or fall over. Hehe. Oh the things you can do when you're 150lbs.


a corgi said...

LOL; Koda is no social with any dogs but if we dare to say hi to the owner of another dog, mind you not even acknowledge the dog, he has a fit and does a little snarl and pull at the leash. I've learned how to very softly and with motions say hi to other dog owners. Of course most of the time we have to cross the street when approaching another dog because Koda usually will start barking against it

Theo is just too cute with his attempts to like all (except pups)

don't you love this hot weather?


Kelly said...

haha Gibson is very possessive of me if I try to pet another dog too. He has to jump inbetween me and the dog and lick it in the face til it backs off. What a weirdo :)

Oh and maybe submissiveness is a corgi thing? Whenever we come up to a new dog when we're on a walk, Gibson will lay down with his ears low until the other dog approaches and says hi. Then, as soon as he knows the other dog won't hurt him he goes crazy and nubs and jumps around and is ready to play!

JuLo said...

Betty, no, Theo and I are both NOT all about this sticky hot weather. What gives? We live in the desert! It's not supposed to be 85 degrees at 9:30pm! Ewww! Hehe.

There's a golden who lives in the neighborhood who sounds just like Koda. I finally got to meet him for the first time last week because I would out running and didn't have Theo with me. He's such a sweet dog when he's not snarling at mine! Hehe.

Kelly, it sounds like Gibson and Theo react pretty similarly. Isn't it so cute when they get all happy? It's definitely not a Corgi thing, since I've seen a bunch of more dominant Corgis at the meetups. Maybe we'll call it an awesome-Corgi thing. ;)

Lynn said...

Lucy does the same thing. Ears back, walks up really slowly (and lower than usual too). She does submissive peeing though.

Lucy usually is ok when I pet other dogs... as long as someone else has a tennis ball! Otherwise the little corgi snarl comes out.

JuLo said...

Hehe. She sounds adorable. Yes, Theo is such a hypocrite. He loves attention from other people, but I'm supposed to just stand there and look pretty. Gosh.

Philip said...

I wonder if it's something about Fireball specifically that Theo doesn't like? There is a dog in my neighborhood that likes other dogs in general, but he absolutely will not have anything to do with Philip. If Philip approaches him, he will growl, bark, and otherwise show how displeased he is. I don't know what gives, but his owner tells me it's just specifically Philip, all other dogs are fine by him.
Are you guys coming to the get together tonight?

JuLo said...

Yeah, I'm sure dogs take to some personalities and appearances more than others, just like people do. Maybe that dog in your neighborhood has something against Dumbo ears. I personally LOVE Philip's Dumbo ears and wouldn't have him any other way. I can't believe how much he's grown in to them. You know how people say you can tell how big a dog will be by his feet? I think with Corgis the measurement is the ears. I should have known Philip would grow up to be a behemoth with those ears. Ha! Ok, neither he nor his ears are THAT big. I might be exaggerating a skooch. ;)

And yes, we'll definitely be there tonight! I can't wait!

ocmist said...

OC has learned that I get to do what I want to do, but she is NOT happy with it, and I usually will restrain myself from getting to friendly with another dog for her sake... unless it is a little pup that I can pick up.

In THAT case, she won't look at me and pouts for a while after, but forgives me after I kiss up for a few minutes and pass out some of the jerky I ALWAYS have with me.

She lets other strange dogs know that I am her property, but will hush down to a grumble under her breath when told to.

I've NEVER had another dog that has such a STRONG personality! After 10 years, we know each other pretty well. I AM alpha, but she's next except for Daddy. :)

indigorhino said...

There you have it. My Corgi is a jewelry hound. It all started with the pink and white polka dotted collar I bought him last month. Next day, he was like a kid in a candy store poking in my closest for new pieces. I caught him in casual “what, me…a jewelry hound???” mode trying to make a getaway with the loot he’d taken. These shots aren’t the only evidence. He left a couple of bracelets on the stairs since they wouldn’t stay on his paws while running. The one consolation? He only takes pieces from my most recent collection at At least the pooch has good taste.

If you'd like to see a photo of Sake adorned in my necklaces, just let me know. Fellow Corgi lover, Janet

Ivy@PaperElixir said...

Ha ha! Nothing like reading up on Theoism when we're up for our 4 a.m. feeding :)