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Hi everyone! I joined here because I really need some advice. We have a 5 year old boxer and just brought home a few weeks ago a 5 month old Belgian Malinois/Dutch Shepherd mix. They play pretty well together, it looks so rough and worries me but I can tell it isn't a fight or anything. The problem is the puppy is puncturing the boxers skin. He is pretty much her height but she has a good 30lbs heavier than him. Unfortunately with her short muzzle she can't grab him like he does her. My poor girl has scabs all over her neck from the puppy constantly nipping/grabbing/holding on to her neck and her floppy cheek skin. She hasn't cried out at all when he does it and she does encourage playtime so I'm assuming it isn't bothering her? It just looks so bad and I feel like I should intervene but I don't want to cause problems. I really want this to work out and I'm not sure how much we should intervene or if we need to leave it to the boxer tell the puppy when she has had enough.

On a side note, the puppy is displaying A LOT of resource guarding behavior but only towards the boxer. Whenever she goes near a toy, the food bowls or a spot he wants he runs ahead of her and cuts her off. He watches her every move when she is in an area with something he guards. Last night (I told my husband to stop and it was a horrible idea but he didn't listen to me) he used one of the toys to get the dogs to play tug of war. I told him it was going to start a fight with how the belgian acts with resources and sure enough within less than a minute the Belgian attacked the Boxer. This morning when we let them back together they were fine, he was licking her face and they started playing again and she had blood spots all over her neck, ears and one on her back from his sharp teeth.

Any thoughts would be appreciated!
 

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I have a 6 month male and a 3 year old female Dutch shepherd. Mine are very mouthy way when they play, although mine have never drawn blood on each other, this would be concerning to me. Dutchies and Mals are both very intense breeds, have you done any research on your mix of breeds? Have you been doing any training with your mal, some mental stimuli might help. It seems that training and mental stimuli tires my pup and dog out faster than playing tug or ball. As far as the resource guarding goes, don’t have any toys out with both dogs, be sure to feed separately and pick up bowls when they are finished. Some others here might have some training exercises to help the guarding but in the meantime preventing any possible incidents seems to be the best solution.
 

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Thanks for the response! I am concerned about the blood being drawn I just don't know if we should stop them from playing if the boxer doesn't seem bothered by it. I'm at a loss on this one.

We have been working on basic commands with training but it has only been a few weeks. I know we need to do more, we have been working on come, look, leave it and take it. He does very well with training but he seems to have endless energy. Even after we work on training or even going for a walk he doesn't seem tired out at all. I think we need to step it up in those areas for sure. Right now that seems to tire the boxer out but not the mal. I think I need to do some more research on training for him that will be beneficial and hard enough for him to tire him out.
 

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You would probably also benefit from teaching him how to settle. "Sit on the dog" is a common method used for this, which you can google and find loads of info about.

While yes, it is important to provide adequate mental stimulation and physical activity, a dog should be able to settle when that is provided. For example, if he gets an hour walk now, and you increase it to an hour and a half because he isn't relaxing and that doesn't work, so you increase it to 2 hours... that cycle will never end. A dog's endurance will win out over yours every time! So it's all about finding a balance.

Puzzle games/toys are a good way to add some mental stimulation. Personally, with the resource guarding, I'd be feeding him in a crate out of a kong/puzzle toy. This will make feeding time last longer and he will have to work more for his food.

If he is resource guarding toys, then toys need to not be left out. He is a puppy now and the fights may not be too bad, but leaving them out is asking for trouble. So is feeding the dogs in the same vicinity. When he is an adult, this could be a serious problem if not managed. May as well start now, and you may be able to curb the behavior in the process.

Finally, for the playing - at 5 months, does he still have his puppy teeth? If so, they should be falling out shortly. Puppy teeth are notoriously sharp and I suspect the bleeding issue will be resolved once he has his adult teeth. If is drawing blood with adult teeth, then yes, I agree the play is too rough.
 

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Yesterday I moved their food bowls. The mal is crated in my son's room when we are gone so his food is in that room and when we leave I put the boxers food out for her in our room. She is used to having full access to her food and eats when she wants. He isn't eating his puppy food either, he only wants the older dogs food which is partly why I decided to feed them separately. I figure when he gets hungry enough he will eat his food and now cannot even see her food. I will try feeding him with the kong while he is crated, he does enjoy that.

He does still have some puppy teeth, they are starting to fall out now. I think I have found maybe 4 so far in the past week. Hopefully once they are gone this will stop!

I will look up that technique thank you!
 

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I would definitely be concerned that he is drawing blood, even if the Boxer isn't concerned at this point. The puppy has a "puppy pass" right now so he can be a bit of a jerk and it will be tolerated, but that won't last. Drawing blood could just be purely accidental, but it shows your puppy hasn't learned good bite inhibition, which is critical. When play starts escalating to the point where you think the puppy will draw blood, just separate the two for 5 minutes and let them both calm down. Then let them play again. I still do this with my adult dogs sometimes if play is getting too heated. Boxers do play pretty rough, but you need to know when it might escalate to something more, and interrupt before that happens.

As for the resource guarding, there is quite a bit of information online about it. Definitely start training with that now; it's not something you want to wait on. I wouldn't allow the dogs to play tug at this point. Maybe when they're older it will be okay, but there's no point taking the risk right now.
 

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Puppy socialization classes might also work as well as play dates with other pups to try and drain some energy.

If you know an older, stable dog (preferably one that's bigger than the boxer) you can maybe ask the owner if he/she is willing to let the dogs interact. The point would be for the older dog to teach the pup some basic dog etiquette and manners, the bigger size will also enable the older dog to take care of any necessary disciplining, such as pinning it down when things get too rough. Please note : I am not advocating that the older dog should use its superior size and strength to bully your pup, but the older dog should ideally be able to "intimidate" the pup into behaving simply by being bigger and stronger.

All the above is my personal opinion so other posters are welcome to disagree with me on anything I've said.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks everyone. A few more days have passed and the scabs on her neck are going away and there are no NEW marks so he isn't drawing blood anymore when he plays with her. A couple of times he did nick one of her scabs but that bleeding is to be expected. She has gotten more rough with him and has pinned him down when he gets too rough. I think she is starting to teach him when to back off. That and his puppy teeth coming out I think are helping.

His resource guarding is still an issue. He was at the top of the stairs yesterday with a kong and the boxer wanted to come up but she stopped. She knew he was telling her to back off silently and I kind of thought that was what he was doing but I wasn't sure so I encouraged her to come up. Sure enough as soon as she got to him he snapped at her aggressively. I then took all of the toys away and put them up. The only toy I left out are the tennis balls since they don't seem to cause him to fight since there are plenty of them. He will take one right out of her mouth though which I do not like. I wish she wouldn't let him do it but she just gives in when he does this stuff.

I wish there was more information I could find about dog to dog resource guarding. All of my searches really come up with resource guarding interactions with humans which he doesn't display that at all. We have a shock collar we used to train the boxer to stay in the yard, it really only took one shock and she got the idea. My husband thinks we should put it on him and when he starts to guard something against the boxer to zap him. I'm thinking that might be effective but I know some people only prefer to deal with positive reinforcement. He doesn't care for food though so it just isn't working for us. He didn't even go for peanut butter which was really surprising to me.
 

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My husband thinks we should put it on him and when he starts to guard something against the boxer to zap him.
This is a terrible idea imo. It could very well make the situation way worse than it is now. It will likely teach him that Boxer comes by = I get zapped. Therefore Boxer nearby= bad things happen = hate Boxer even more.


Look up resource guarding between 2 dogs. This is one of the first articles that came up when I typed that in to Google. Patricia McConnell also has some great books/training materials you can buy.

https://www.patriciamcconnell.com/theotherendoftheleash/resource-guarding-dog-to-dog-repost
 

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We have a shock collar we used to train the boxer to stay in the yard, it really only took one shock and she got the idea. My husband thinks we should put it on him and when he starts to guard something against the boxer to zap him. I'm thinking that might be effective but I know some people only prefer to deal with positive reinforcement. He doesn't care for food though so it just isn't working for us. He didn't even go for peanut butter which was really surprising to me.
Whenever a dog seems to have low or no food drive and refuses to take treats during training, it's usually time to examine the possibility of stress (and / or confidence) issues.

That being said. Alternative ways of utilizing positive reinforcement exist. Toys, play, praise, life rewards, Premack etc. Food use is a popular technique because it's just ... easier to apply. But the scientific principles, and benefits are exactly the same when using other means of reinforcement.

ETA: do a forum search or web search for tuna fudge or puppy crack treat recipes.
 

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I would also recommend strongly against shocking him with an e-collar when he tries to guard something against the Boxer. I would say you see one of several results:
- He associates the shock with the boxer coming closer to him (not HIS behavior), and now has an issue with the Boxer coming close in situations other than him having a high value resource. Now there's an issue between the dogs

- He associates the shock with the context- him having a high value resource- and the next time he intensifies his reaction against the other dog because that situation has gone from "might take away my thing I want" to "something scary/possibly painful will happen"

- He responds to the shock by upping the intensity of his response in the moment and you now have a fight on your hands

- You stop that behavior in that moment, and perhaps do see some suppression of the behavior. At some point, over some resource, he IS going to react again. Possibly more intensely now. Possibly at the same intensity. That one shock is pretty much definitely NOT going to stop the behavior forever.

It's less "some people only prefer to deal with positive reinforcement" and more "a lot of people are educated enough to know that behavior is not a simple input-output, and using aversives like an e-collar in this way can VERY easily create negative and unwanted results and damage a dog at a psychological level". I am not 1000% against e-collars. There are situations where I see why someone might choose to use that tool- recall in the case of very strong prey drive, as an attention cue that can be shifted into negative reinforcement, to create a slight annoyance that the dog wishes- and fully understands how to- make stop. I don't use them in that way and would prefer to find alternative ways to get the same behavior that are perhaps less invasive to the dog, but there are plenty of trainers out there capable of using an e-collar in a way I don't innately find alarming and slightly abusive. This- setting a dog up to do a thing you know they're going to do, and then delivering a (presumably strong) electric shock they are not expecting and have no context to understand what it means- is definitely NOT one of those situations.

You're talking about a young male dog of a mix of breeds that have pretty much been developed to use their teeth and to like to use their teeth. At 6 months, he's JUST starting to enter adolescence. I would say this is a behavior that is likely to escalate on its own if ignored. IMO, you can expect to see some level of resource guarding against other dogs for the rest of his life with things that he really likes and that are in high demand. I, personally, do not see that as unreasonable or surprising with a dog of this mix. You can work on the behavior to lessen it, but it will be something you need to keep in mind with his interactions with other dogs. IMO, that's part of getting a working shepherd. They aren't all plug-and-play with other dogs. They need some management and often some basic behavior modification of innate tendencies that you don't really like.

Here's an articles that might help in address this issue in a more productive way:
https://www.patriciamcconnell.com/theotherendoftheleash/resource-guarding-dog-to-dog

Also, just to double check: what exactly is his reaction? Is he actually coming off of the resource to go after the other dog? Is he then backing off once she gives distance, or is he pinning her or using his teeth to grab at her? How much warning is he giving her? Brushing up on some basic dog warning signals in dog-dog interactions would probably also be a good idea.
 

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I also agree that identifying the reason he's not taking food is a good idea.

Maybe I'm playing too much into breed prejudice, but food drive is usually something that is being considered in a working shepherd mix. I can't imagine this dog has *no* food drive. I would be curious if there's some over arousal or stress/anxiety at work here.

But, maybe I am being prejudiced and this dog really has little to no food drive. There has to be something that he wants and is willing to work for.

I would also say that it is time to start giving high value things like kongs only in a kennel.
 
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