Friday, February 12, 2010

Do Boys Know How To Get Along?

A good friend of mine wants to know about intact males getting along on the island. How much does testosterone rule their world?
Answer: The average intact house pet or show dog is way more dysfunctional about getting along with other males. And so far I have not seen any boys without testicles. I'm such a perv, I always look.
In breeding season there are no friends, but there are allies. If the neighborhood stray dogs are pretty stable, then they know each other. The stronger/alpha of whoever is there goes first and its a gang bang with the top dog going over and over until he's too tired to continue. One thing I haven't seen with the street dogs yet is a tie.
The street breeding I've seen has been with the bitch going out of season and getting pretty sick of it.
I did see two lab size dogs posturing for next when the dog I call Zorro walked in tall, like the man from El Paso in the Marty Robbins song. He walked right towards her like they weren't even there. They just stopped and looked at him like a couple of school boys. All in all there were about six males in this clearing hoping to get a shot at the female in heat. When the pecking order is clear, they all know when to look away or lip lick.
A big dog from nearby area during breeding cycle is what I think some bad night sounds have been about. That's when you hear the worse dog fights.
Stormy, who is about six or seven years old was severely mauled last spring. We weren't here, but a neighbor told us how badly injured he was. There is a bald patch on his left rump still.
Out of breeding season Stormy has guy friends. The signals they give each other are exquisite. I've watched two boys race all over my yard and body slam. You can see the beta boy pull in his slams so he doesn't piss off the alpha. We've also seen the correction when a beta misjudges, which can be a swift single yelp nip or a simple act of opening the aplhas mouth around the beta's for a couple of seconds. Either way they then get on with play.
One of our neighbors has an akita mix that wasn't here the end of May. When we came back in January, Stormy would stand on the edge of our property barking down at the akita, who of course was looking back up barking. Stormy does this incessant, "Woowoowoowoowwoo". He sounds just like the little tough guy giving shit to the big dog. He is a terrier x border collie, like I said he's a smart little guy. I thought that as much as he was pushing the akita's buttons he shouldn't go down the hill. The other day as we coming home I see Storm and the Akita standing nose to nose. Stormy knows how to make friends.
So if he is all that terrific in his language, how did he end up getting his butt handed to him? Some how Stormy pissed off Peanut, who hates Stormy like I have never seen one dog hate another.
There were three sometimes four boys following Blondie last spring when we got here. She was going out of season, I really felt sorry for her. The best of what she still had following her was a skinny nondescript brown dog we called Doby. Stormy and a similar sized yellow dog looked like either could be next, but this little Peanut kept herding Stormy, growling at him. He was trying to pick a fight. When Stormy would act aggressively back to Peanut, the other males would pack up against Stormy, who gave submissive signals. Peanut ignored them and escalated his growls and air snapping near Storm. This went on and on, the little dog was fixated on Stormy. He sounded like a little demon. I could see Storm get impatient with him , but restrain himself.
At this point I took action. Every time Peanut would get one of his pack to join him in harassing Stormy I'd give him a shot in the butt with a lttle vinegar & water spray. This unnerved Peanut just as his compatriot arrived, so he would act stupid to the other dog who then gave him a hard time. Peanut took off shortly after that. Storm never got to breed Blondie, but he got along with the other guys without an incident.
The previous spring when we came to the house Peanut was following Stormy around the neighborhood. Peanut looked to be about eight months old, had not hit puberty. He was puppy submissive to Storm with groveling, licking the corners of Storm's mouth. What happened is anyone's guess.
Peanut's behavior towards Stormy looked pathological to me. I've seen dogs not like each other. I've seen dogs fight, but this looked like hatred.
So I think in our houses it's a combination of a dog not being good enough at his own language and we are not clearly enough their leader. Back in the day when I thought had to do an alpha role over to show dominance, I had five adult breeding male Rottweilers living in my house. There was never a problem with the boys because I had however crudely learned how to be alpha in a way the dogs understood.

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