I made many mistakes with my Shiba when I first got him, but one thing that I did from the start was try to socialize him to other puppies and dogs.
Shiba Sephy seems to really like interacting with other dogs but greetings do not always go well.
After carefully observing how Sephy meets dogs, I realized that he does not like new dogs sniffing his butt.
Butt sniffing can actually be taken as a dominance move – the one getting his butt sniffed is submitting to the dog doing the sniffing.
This actually makes a lot of sense. The sniffing dog has all his teeth near to a vulnerable part of the other dog, while the other dog has his teeth farthest away from his hind area.
The dog being sniffed is putting himself in a vulnerable position, thus dogs only allow butt sniffs with dogs they trust and are comfortable with; or as a sign of submission.
For example, my Shiba has no problems with my Siberian Husky doing all sorts of things to him. He is also very tolerant with his regular playmates … but strange dogs poking their noses up his butt is a big no-no.
I really do not blame him.
Nowadays, I make sure that during dog greetings, my Shiba’s buttockal region is well protected. By using body blocks, I keep the other dog away from my Shiba’s hind area.
When greeting other dogs, I try to stay calm and interrupt the greeting as soon as I notice any signs of stress or discomfort on either dog. I walk away to create space and call Sephy to me. Creating space is important so that neither of the dogs feel crowded or trapped.
When Shiba comes, he gets treated, and then he can go back for another short greeting if he wants.
The butt sniff is not for every dog.
Protect your dog from other dogs if necessary. Make dog greetings a fun and low stress affair by staying calm, creating space, using positive interrupts, and body blocking unwanted butt sniffs.
By consistently making dog greetings into positive events, we help our dog build self confidence and associate other dogs with fun and rewards. This will make our dog into a social butterfly, improve his quality of life, and allow us to take him to more places without worrying about dog-to-dog aggression.
It is difficult to say why without seeing it in person. From what you describe, it sounds like your puppy is just playing.
My Siberian does the butt move with my other dog a lot when they are playing. It is just like a body block, and she uses it to get my other dog to move in a certain direction or to move away from something.
A fearful dog usually will have their tail tucked, head down, with a low body position.
My Siberian is a 3 legged dog and sometimes she gets a bit overwhelmed by the other dogs she is playing with. I will always step in and stop play as soon as it looks like she is getting stressed or uncomfortable.
I was just wondering why my puppy shoves his butt in other dogs faces. It’s like he wants them to constantly sniff it. He seems to like to be submissive to other dogs. Is this a sign of some kind of fear or what is it?
My pup does the same thing! I hope its nothing bad :(.
my dog does the same thing; but it is nothing bad about it just there way to say play with me!!!!
Yeah I know what you mean. I have stopped taking my Shiba to dog parks as well. It is difficult to find a really good enclosed dog park. Most of them have really iffy dogs, and no real owner supervision.
Shiba Sephy is the same way. What works best for Sephy are –
1. Choosing his playmates carefully (only less dominant, playful dogs)
2. Very small playgroups. I usually just organize one-on-one play sessions for him with friendly neighborhood dogs or with friendly dogs at my local SPCA.
When Shiba Sephy greets other dogs, I now make sure that they don’t come over and sniff his butt. I also keep each greeting period really short – they meet, smell briefly, and I interrupt and get Sephy to come back to me. Then I reward him for coming back and let him go back again to meet if he wants.
What has worked well for Sephy is to always try and keep things positive and set him up for success. I try to only expose him to situations that he can handle and not push him too much over his tolerance threshold. I also try to interrupt as soon as I notice any stress on either dog so that nobody escalates their behavior.
In cases where I don’t catch things fast enough and Sephy escalates into aggression, I try to stay calm, non-mark him, and end the greeting. If Shiba decides to redirect on me I will also end the walk.
I have also done some dog-to-dog desensitization exercises with Sephy. The most difficult part is finding balanced and calm dogs that I can do this type of training with. Previously I have had good success with some of the dogs from a nearby dog daycare center, as well as from the SPCA.
Here is more on dog-to-dog meetings.
Thanks for dropping by Julie! I have had lots of fun reading your blog. Your blog header is too awesome and too funny! 😀
Wow. I have had this problem for a while now. I have a shiba and he basically hates dogs in his face and sniffing his butt. I get embarassed to have him get all aggressive when the other dogs that are there to play. However, he kind of has that mentality of being top dog. He likes to initiate it with other dogs but sometimes he minds it and some times he doesn’t. I am too worried about him getting into a fight at the dog park so I stopped taking him to meet new dogs. I am not sure how else I can start to condition him with this though. Any ideas about him meeting new dogs safely? He always wants to play with other dogs but I do not think he likes dominant dogs like himself.
Yuki is the same way! I never thought about interrupting in a positive way, though. Thanks for the entry.
As long as both dogs are comfortable and having a good time then that is a good greeting to me 🙂
When either dog is tense, I usually interrupt after a very short amount of time, get my dog to come back to me, reward, and then he can go back for another short greeting if he wants to.
“But by the same token, he should not go poke his nose up the other dog’s butt either. :)”
That is a good point and I hadn’t thought of it this way before. Maybe I’ll block him from sniffing another dog’s butt to see if that improves the situation.
Trying to imagine my dog giving calming signals to another dog sounds like a joke, LOL. It will be a while before he’s able to rehabilitate other dogs.
What would be the ideal dog to dog greeting to you? I think the sideways, curved approach with both sniffing each other’s genitals is about as polite as it can get.
What you say is very true. The more dog-to-dog social skills a dog knows, the better his quality of life will be. In particular, a dog that is good at displaying calming signals usually does very well in a group dog situation. But it is not clear to me that the butt-sniff is a good social-skill to encourage – especially at the beginning of a dog greeting.
When the butt sniff is performed by new dogs, it is a dominance move – similar to humping. I do not let my dogs hump other dogs, and similarly I do not let other dogs hump them.
To me, not liking the butt-sniff is not just a quirk – but rather the dog saying he doesn’t want to be dominated by dogs that he has just met. That seems reasonable to me. But by the same token, he should not go poke his nose up the other dog’s butt either. 🙂
Once they get to know each other a little bit and are more comfortable with each other – then they can butt sniff all they want 🙂 I just feel it may not be the best thing to do in the initial stages of a greeting.
“There also seems to be a strange and unrealistic expectation that a dog should like all other dogs, and if he doesn’t there is something wrong with him. Probably comes from Lassie and other television shows.”
Yes, exactly. Blame the dog when it doesn’t act like Lassie – such a common mistake.
I don’t think dogs should be forced to “like” other dogs. Obviously, everybody and every dog has their own personality, but I think it’s important that they develop social skills with their own kind. In my case, I want my dog to accept it and not run away when another dog sniffs his butt. After all, he wants to sniff their butt, so it’s only fair. To me, that’s not just a funny personality quirk, it’s something that should be worked on because it only causes problems for him.