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1 Cat Lover + 3 Dogs = Confusion

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I like animals in general; but cats are my favorite, and the only species I can communicate with efficiently. Dogs are interesting, but I don't understand them! Can you help?

One of my friends needed a housemate to help with the cost of rent. I needed an apartment. The sensible arrangements were made, and I moved into a house with four girls and three dogs. I have never had a dog before; and I have really not much idea how to understand dogs.

Bear is a big black puppy, about nine months old and three feet tall at the shoulder. He's a quarter wolf, and you can tell by his size, his ears and tail. He's very friendly and seems to have insane amounts of energy; I've pushed his paws off my shoulders more than I care to count.

Simon is another black puppy, but he's about as big as a Lab... he probably has some Lab in him, actually, because he resembles one. He's very quiet and calm. He's also very good at begging for food.

Mercy is a four-year-old mix of some sort of hound with some other sort of hound. She's a very good-looking dog; but sometime in the past, she was abused. They say she is afraid if you move too fast, and will draw back and cower. When she sees me she rolls over on her back and looks up at me. I'm not sure why. My friend is training her; and she's learning well. Better than the puppies, anyhow.

They seem like OK dogs--and they are... but I'm not sure what they're saying when they do what they do. What does it mean when they jump up on me, when they bark or wave their tails or roll over on their backs... I'm confused. And they're so social! It's like they can't be in an empty room, don't really entertain themselves, are always where the humans are... always together, always interacting--almost clingy.

How does a cat lover learn to connect with dogs? It's like learning a foreign language... any tips?
post #2 of 6
Originally Posted by Callista View Post
When she sees me she rolls over on her back and looks up at me. I'm not sure why.
Well, being a dog and cat and any other animal person, I can't really sympathize- but I can help you with this part. She's showing submission. Showing you her belly is telling you "you're the boss".
Also she might want a belly rub but since you say she was abused and is scared it's probably submission. You're lucky, some dogs who are super submissive do that and then pee on the floor, another sign of submission.
post #3 of 6
Okay with the one who puts his feet on your shoulders thats an absolute no no. When he does that. Gentle but firmly push his feet to the floor and say no. He is being too pushy and you need to set boundaries with him. With the begging for food is this something he is doing that he was trained to do. Such as my Lilly will dance around for food on cue. And with the other one. Rolling over for you is a sign of trust and submission. But the cowering when you move worries me a bit. Because the most dangerous dog to have is a fearful. More people are bitten from fear biters than any other dog. It may take some time but the best way to show her that you won't hurt her is by working on building her trust. Try taking her for a walk but make her walk beside or behind you. Dogs trust their leaders so you have to walk ahead of them. And even though she is your roomates dog because you live in with her you also have to be seen as an alpha to the pack. Yeah I know I sound like the dog whisper but I was born with dogs. We have always had atleast one or two dogs on my farm.
post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
When Mercy's afraid of me, I just tend to back off a little, and not stare at her... I know that staring straight at a dog is supposed to be rude and a challenge, just as it is with cats. Also if I raise my voice (to tell her to sit or whatever), I don't pitch it high (I mean I talk loud rather than yelling), because high pitched sounds seem to alarm her. My housemates say that Mercy has grown much more confident and happy during the past six months, since they adopted her.

I don't think she's the sort to bite unless someone corners her and she's too afraid to do anything else... she's never bitten anyone in the house; the puppies have, but that was only nipping when play got too rough.

Edit: Oh, yeah: Bear sat on my lap last night... which is nice except that he weighs 90 pounds! He seems to have no idea how huge he is.
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
I'm bumping this 'cause I have another question:

Bear (the big 9-month old puppy) has a habit of "mouthing" your hand... he grabs your hand in his jaws, very gently, and just stays that way for a couple of seconds.

I generally pull away, both because I dont like dog slobber and I don't want him to get the idea that he's allowed to nip anybody...

Still, I don't get it--why does he do this? It doesn't seem very much like biting at all; he's mostly in a playful mood when he does it.

(Oh, yeah: Bear has the idea now that he can't jump up on me. He'd already learned this with the other girls, it turned out, and had to re-learn that he couldn't do it to me either.)
post #6 of 6
Okay when he is mouthy with you it can be two things. Either he is playing or he is once again testing to see if you are the alpha or not. When he puts his mouth in your hand pull your hand away and firmly but gently hold his muzzle and say no bite. Don't shout it but don't sound meek as a mouse either. Kind of assume the mother role for a minute. With dogs mouthyness is a sign of bad manners and disrespect. If you don't stop it now he will think its okay. And if he continues to be mouthy then walk a way from him. But try the other first. And like I said since there is more than one roomate you should each walk him. For atleast half a mile. And do it at different times of the day. and you should all use the same commands on him. sit down and discuss them. That stops him from being confused. When you walk him make him walk to the side of you or behind you as I have said before.
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