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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 20175
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 18+ years
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I have 2 Bichons/king Charles cross from the same litter. They

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I have 2 Bichons/king Charles cross from the same litter. They are almost 4 years old. The slightly bigger one has always been the 'top dog'. He protected the other one, was more respected etc. The smaller one Sunny, would never eat until Top dog Rascal was well into his dinner. However 6 weeks ago when I checked my sleeping children at midnight...Rascal was on top of my daughters bed...urininating at her feet. I screamed and ran across and gave him a slap on his thigh...first time ever. Both dogs ran down the stairs petrified. I scolded them but that was that...more late night walks , and closed bedroom doors. HOWEVER Rascal is no longer TOP dog. I cuddle him,always call him first , I put his food down first and wait till he eats before giving Sunny his. Then he will pause...wait until sunny is halfway through..and then eat. I am afraid that I have damaged him psychologically for life. Appreciate your help, Saudi Arabia
Changes in leadership in dogs of the same household is not uncommon. The leader is usually the biggest or strongest or most dominant dog. Usually neutered dogs are lower than intact dogs. Illness also plays a part in who is boss or top dog. A dog with an illness is not longer the best choice for top dog. So the first thing I would do is get Rascal in for a checkup and ask to test for a urinary tract infection if you notice even one additional sign beyond the inappropriate urination you noticed. Common symptoms of a urinary tract infection are frequent urination, dribbling urine, blood in the urine, squatting frequently to urinate, strong odor to the urine, inappropriate urination and straining to urinate as well as an increase in fluid intake.
A dog with a UTI does not always show all the symptoms and typically displays 2 or 3. Other causes might include a kidney issue or diabetes. This check up is a precaution since you did notice him urinating inappropriately and there has been a change in the dog's "pack order".
If there is no medical problem and the two dogs are not actively fighting, I wouldn't worry too much about it. It is the natural order of things in the dog world for the strongest most able dominant dog to be boss and this changes sometimes frequently depending on the dynamics of a pack. With strong willed breeds like my rotties, it can be an ongoing issue on who is the boss and fights can erupt if an owner doesn't monitor their dogs.
Now I know you would like Rascal to be boss again, but they don't seem to have an issue with the change or you would see fighting, so I would change what you are doing. I'd start treated Sunny as the boss by feeding him first, etc. That will help prevent confusion.
I think it is highly unlikely that one reprimand from you would impact the pack order at all which is why I think a medical issue is a more likely cause for the change.
I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Many thanks....I will get Rascal a medical check up.....your advice was very helpful ,but the change in status happened day after after the slap from me .Sunny regularly growls for prolonged periods at Rascal...and upsets Rascal.
I think the bedwetting episode by Rascal stemed from them not having a late walk...and the fact that my little child is prone to occasional bedwetting herself (we are addressing this ) so they may have felt it was fair game to urinate there.
Rascal doesn't look sick, he is very strong when out walking ...if he sees a cat I will be almost airborne.
The real reason I am bothered is that I think Sunny is bullying Rascal in a sneaky sort of way...Rascal has protected his scrawnier brother for years I am disappointed. C
A well trained house broken dog isn't going to suddenly urinate on the bed even if your child does though the odor may make it more appealing. In addition, it may have been a temporary issue with the kidney or another health issue all together. Your reprimand may have helped facilitate a change in status since your reprimand might have seemed like you no longer saw him as the top dog, but most owners reprimand their dogs with no change in the order.
Sonny will intimidate Rascal since he is a "new" top dog and you are still favoring Rascal which makes Rascal think he maybe is still boss and since Sunny can't or won't reprimand you for treating Rascal as boss, he takes it out on Rascal instead.
It really is quite common and you really can't force a change in status without potentially having it lead to full blown altercations. The best thing is to have Rascal checked over to be sure there is no issue and as long as their is not no blood shed, support the change in status.
Now if you are not obedience training the dogs or working with them daily, you might want to do that. The following site is helpful for teaching you how to train your dog. Be sure and click on the link to the page on obedience at the bottom. and links on subsequent pages leading to detailed instructions.
Training works best if you train at least 30 minutes a day (two 15 minute sessions). I would start making your dog work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). It is outlined below.
This helps you be the boss over both dogs and often allows you to control them regardless of any altercation that might be brewing. You might notice a growl from Sunny and make him obey a command to stop the behavior. You could also keep a leash on them to ensure you can give a reprimand for any inappropriate behavior like growls. If a fight should break out, it also helps separate them. Since Rascal relinquished top dog position pretty easily, I don't expect fights as they likely would have already occurred. However, if it is a medical issue, then you might see fighting if Rascal decides he wants that top dog position back once he is in top shape again.
Something I just thought of was the possibility of a back injury. If you scared him and he landed wrong, leading to a disc issue. An injury can lead to inflammation of the disc material. This can lead to intermittent pain that the dog might hide well from you, but his brother would pick up on it quite easily. Dogs with disc issues may be less likely to jump up on things or use steps. However, if the injury is such that only moving in certain ways causes the pain, he may have figured out how to get up on things to minimize the chance of pain. Just something I thought about when I realized that he likely flew off that bed when you reprimanded him and might have even slipped when they went down the stairs.
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