Normal behavior or a concern?
  • MihoMiho
    Posts: 10
    Hi everyone. I was hoping some of you could give me some advice on my new dog's behavior.

    Yuri is an adult Akita that I got two weeks ago as a rescue. He was in a foster home for a month, and before that he was found as a stray. Everything about being in a house is new to him and startles him, so my vet and I think that he was a stray for a long time. I have been taking everything slowly with him, trying to make sure that he trusts me first before we begin any other major socialization.

    I have another dog, Jude, who is a male coonhound/husky mix and taller than Yuri, but about the same weight. He is an extremely kind and tolerant dog. I still keep them totally separated (Yuri is crated) when I’m not around, but now that they are used to each other I let them be together when I can fully supervise. They seem to get along wonderfully, and both dogs are very calm inside the house. When I take them into the fenced-in back yard, they try to play, but it seems like maybe their play styles are not that compatible. Yuri is not being aggressive, but his play style is very rough, and he doesn’t let up when the other dog is telling him that he’s done. Yuri will stalk Jude like a cat, then pounce and swipe him with his paws, mouth his ears, and just be very pushy. Sometimes Jude will accept this play, and they have a good time, but most of the time it seems to cause Jude stress. Jude will bow up his body, trying to push his side or butt to Yuri, and just give as much submissive body language as possible. Sometimes he will start drooling and trying to get away from him. If this goes on for more than about 20 seconds, Jude will run over to me, with Yuri chasing and mouthing him, and I will redirect Yuri and comfort Jude. Sometimes after they've calmed down, Jude will go over to Yuri, give a puppy bow, and re-initiate play where they will just get the zombies and run circles around the yard.

    From my perspective, it seems like Yuri is just trying to play and has no aggressive intentions, but I have been on this forum for a while and read some unfortunate experiences between Akitas and other dogs, so I want to be cautious and get everyone’s advice. Does this sound like normal Akita play behavior, or is Yuri showing signs that he might treat Jude more aggressively some day? Any suggestions on how to improve their interactions in the yard? Like I said, they get along perfectly in the house and will sleep curled up together on the same dog bed and groom each other. They both tolerate the other getting in their personal space when trying to get my attention, there have been no instances of resource guarding or food aggression, and we haven’t had any problems. I just don’t want to miss any warning signs and end up with a problem. Any advice is appreciated!
  • PoetikDragonPoetikDragon
    Posts: 2928
    It sounds bizarre in that I can’t actually picture what you describe. However, as Yuri is the one initiating as long as his body language is “loose” (not stiff, frozen, staring, tight lipped, etc) I would say it is probably play.

    Work on redirecting sooner, before Jude comes to you for help. Be proactive Jude needs to know you’ll always protect him (not just after he’s alteady at his wits end protecting himself) because otherwise some day he might be pushed too far and take it into his own paws instead of coming to you.
    「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
    http://www.facebook.com/PoetikDragon
    http://www.facebook.com/KaijuKennels
    http://www.kaijukennels.com
  • MihoMiho
    Posts: 10
    Thanks for your response. I would not consider Yuri's body language loose. He is very stiff as he crouches down and stalks, and I can't break his concentration with my voice. He is also pulling his lips up and showing his teeth while putting his mouth on Jude. However, he isn't doing anything to actually hurt Jude. I'll try upload a video because it's hard to describe.

    I will start redirecting sooner. Actually, since I have a hard time redirecting Yuri at all when he gets into that mode, I won't let them loose in the back yard together again until I get this more figured out. Thanks again.
  • PoetikDragonPoetikDragon
    Posts: 2928
    Good idea! Management and prevention is always the best solution IMO. :)

    Looking forward to the video if you can.
    「怪獣荘秋田犬」Kaiju Kennels Japanese Akita and Hokkaido, Claire Matthews
    http://www.facebook.com/PoetikDragon
    http://www.facebook.com/KaijuKennels
    http://www.kaijukennels.com
  • MihoMiho
    Posts: 10
    https://youtu.be/n3LFkLzV9pM

    Here is the link to a video of them playing. The third dog is not mine, and their behavior is the same whether he is there or not. It's not a great quality video or a great example of the roughness that I'm talking about, but it's the best I had already filmed.

    In this video I would say that they are getting along, and Yuri quits when Jude is done with it. However, you can maybe see how Yuri gets stiff and starts trying to nip Jude's face and neck. The problem comes when Jude stops running because this usually causes Yuri to get more and more rough and snarly.
  • AjaxAjax
    Posts: 123
    I saw nothing concerning in the link, but the dogs are too far away and clip is too short to really make an assessment.
  • MihoMiho
    Posts: 10
    @Ajax yes, unfortunately I don't have a very good video of the behavior I'm talking about. The video that I linked is really just their normal play, although some of those nips left scabs on Jude's ears. Thanks for taking a look!

    I have had a trainer come and look at their behavior, and I thought I would share with everyone what we found in case other people have a similar issue. The trainer said some similar things to @PoetikDragon about loose vs stiff behavior:

    Yuri has a very high prey drive and is becoming over-stimulated being loose in the (fenced) yard with another dog; this is likely the cause of his stalking behaviors. Yuri stares intently at Jude while Jude is just wandering around the yard, then Yuri begins the predatory behavior of crouching down and stalking very stiffly. Then he runs in and begins biting at Jude (although not with an intent to cause harm). Some dogs perform these behaviors in play, but the difference is (according to the trainer) that Yuri is not giving play signals first, such as a puppy bow; he is intentionally trying to catch Jude unaware. Jude becomes anxious upon being targeted like this and freezes up. That causes Yuri to become even more stimulated, intense, and stiff, and he turns into a bully.

    The trainer said that over time and with assistance, the two dogs could become more familiar with each others' play styles and become better playmates. For now, I am not going to be letting them interact loose outside until they build a more solid relationship and get used to each other. And obviously I am still not leaving them together in this house while I'm not there to supervise, either. This is only the third week that I've had Yuri, and I know that integration can take a very long time. Thanks again for your input!

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