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Last summer we adopted a mixed-breed puppy and brought her home when she was app...


Last summer we adopted a mixed-breed puppy and brought her home when she was approximately 10-12 weeks old. The rescue organization told us she is probably part cattle dog, but we are unsure of her heritage. She joined a household with two adult humans and a Pembroke Welsh corgi who was a year and a half old at the time the puppy was adopted. From the start, the puppy, "Libby," would nip at the corgi, "Winston". We assumed it was just playing. However, Libby continues to attack Winston several months later. She sometimes tries to creep up on Winston and surprise him. Other times she will go straight for his legs and nip him. Winston never starts the fights, but he will sometimes growl and nip back. It appears that Libby merely sees this as a game, but the fights can get quite loud and sometimes violent (though no blood has ever been shed). Libby also refuses to allow Winston to play with any toys while she is in the same room. She steals all toys away and nips at Winston if he tries to take them back. We sometimes separate the dogs, but Winston misses spending time with us and Libby cannot be left alone outside of a crate. Is this an issue of a puppy needing to learn how to play correctly or is it a dominance issue? How can we train our dogs so that they get along?

Without seeing it, it's hard to say. Clearly her behavior is "working for her" as evidenced by the fact that she continues to do it. If I had to guess, I'd say it's an attention-getting behavior and that she doesn't properly know how to play. If you haven't taken her to training, I would do that. If she had a reliable "leave it" you could stop her from pestering him or stealing his toys. I'd take her to play with some other dogs so she can see/learn a variety of play styles. If you have a PetSmart nearby, stop in and talk with a trainer. There are private lessons and group classes available. Also, if that store happens to have a PetsHotel, they will have doggie daycamp and she can play with lots of other dogs. If that's not an option, you may want to visit a dog park after she's trained a bit and find a positive reinforcement trainer to come help. Until then, interrupt her if she gets too pesky and if he tells her off and she doesn't go away, you take her away. You can put her in "time out" for a couple of minutes until she calms down. She should learn that if she gets too rowdy she won't get to keep interacting with him. If Winston likes to play with toys with the humans, then just put her away (in the crate, if necessary) and play with him. No need for him to miss out because she's misbehaving! When you're ready, one of you could put her on leash and practice sits, down, and attention exercises in the room same room while Winston plays. That would help her learn to let him play and that she has to listen to you. Since she'll be on leash, she won't be able to steal his toys.