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Yelping at Each Other

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About 7 weeks ago we brought in a 2nd cairn into our family.  Finn is a sweet dog but much larger than our girl Jax and is much more aggressive at play than Jax.  In the beginning, they seemed to enjoy roughhousing with each other with Jax yelping when Finn got too rough or us intervening. We limit them to short intervals together since Finn is still being housebroken but is a few months older than Jax who is 16 months.  

Today however, Jax seemed afraid of Finn, yelping at him when she sees him running towards her to play...warning him I guess to stay away, then she hid under the furniture where he couldn't reach her.  We've also seen that Finn will growl at Jax at times which results in a reprimand. 

It's odd because they seem to love each other when we walk them and will go nose to nose licking each other when we are holding them or they are both on a leash.

Is this behavior normal while they establish dominance? Is there something we should be doing to smooth the adjustment to each other? 



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i've had two cairns together, but it was a special situation. it did resemble yours, however, in that one dog was bigger and much more powerful than the other. when i was home with them i let them be together, but when i was out they were separated. the reason: the best cairn in the world will still be vulnerable to temper tantrums, and these dogs are equipped powerful teeth, jaws and claws out of proportion to their size. it was not worth it to me to take a chance. in the short run you might consider periods of together alternating with periods apart. jax can recover her confidence, and finn --if you give him some concentrated one-on-one time with you-- can learn his manners. 

i believe you when you say that finn is a sweet dog. we see a lot of dogs who are new in their homes go through similar phases. they start out timid and hesitant and eager to please (not really typical cairn stuff) and then as they get more confident they start getting cairny --looking for a place in the household, trying on some dominance with fellow pets, maybe the child here and there, or other humans who seem like pushovers. it is a normal cairn phase of maturation, and dogs coming into new homes will have a puppyhood, an adolescence and a maturity all over again. i think it is best to treat it as normal maturation --a cairn that is starting into this phase has to be held to the lines, treated consistently and fairly, and all household members have to be with the program (cairns will identify a weak link very quickly and the whole education program can collapse). what i mean is: although finn is new, there is no reason to treat him that way. he is going through a cairn adolescence no matter what his age is, and he needs the firm, fair, good-humored but ironbound determination that it takes to raise any cairn.

some day you and jax might feel that finn is the most gentle and most reliable friend in the world, but it takes a while to get there. it is normal for him to try to push the limits now --we'd be disappointed in him if the didn't. but jax's life doesn't have to be turned upside down, and the household doesn't have to be always on alert if you take some basic steps to guide finn through this very normal period. 

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Hanks very much PK for the detailed response.  We do have Jax and Finn separated most of the time other than walking, in the evening when we are all together in the same room and periods of play.  It seems to go a bit 'south' when they run in the yard or in our large lower level.  We plan to start keeping Finn on a leash when they are outside so he can't run after Jax so strongly.  We have noticed when Finn is leashed, Jax will start to torment him a bit since he can't run after her. We reprimand her when she does that.

i want to be sure the actions we take don't inadvertently make the situation worse and appreciate the advice.

At times they are so loving to each other, I need to learn how to build on that.

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Demps and Elsie love to play together.  Demps has a habit of going for Elsie's hind leg.  Sometimes it's ok and sometimes it's not - Elsie definitely lets him know when she's not in the mood and Dempsy seems to respect her growl.  Glad they worked it out. Good luck to you!  

Elsie, Max, Meeko & Lori


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I love that pic Idaho!!!!!  Says (at least to me) "Hush your mouth, YOU!!!!" :D

Yes sometimes you just have to let them work it out....and then make a decision to intervene. May we ALL enjoy the fun and learning these little terrors GIVE each day!;)

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Thanks Idaho and all for the feedback.  We will see how they do the next few months...it scares and saddens me when Jax is yelping and hiding to keep away Finn. Today her brother was over for a play date and it was a night and day difference. Maybe it's because they are litter mates but it was running, wrestling and playing with joy and no one getting out if line.  


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