Golden Retrievers Speak: Showing Love and Respect

Jeter:    Let me first point out that daddy got the idea for us to talk about this particular topic from his sister, who posted a picture of one of her dogs licking the other in the face.   This is one of MY favorite things to do.    I have licked Josh since Day 1, and started doing it to Alanis not long after she got here.

Josh:   He loves to lick my face and my ears.   When I was younger and more mobile, he would sometimes get to the point where I would get annoyed and we would start wrestling.   Of course, Jeter never won a wrestling match against me.

Jeter:  Yeah, yeah, yeah.   So, you may be asking why I do this, and why the other two don’t do it as often?    There are several reasons why one dog may lick another dog.   One of them could be a sign of respect.   The most common reason, however, is likely more of a bonding/friendship type of thing.    I often lick the other dog after a play session.   To me, it could be a way of showing a special bond towards the other dog.    Alanis sometimes licks me back, but not always.  Why is that?  Let us ask her that question!     Let us see you wiggle your way out of this one, diva!

Alanis:   There really isn’t an explanation.  It doesn’t mean that Jeter likes me more than I like him.  It just means I may have other ways to show our bond.  For example, I love to follow Jeter around.  I love to get close to him when we go to bed at night.   Dogs are very complex in how we interact with each other.  Just like with humans, we have different ways to display our affection to other dogs in the house, IF indeed we actually do like the other dog.   If not, there could be problems.

Josh:  I’ve never liked you, Alanis.

Alanis:   :'(

Josh:   Get over it.   Actually, because I was already an older dog when Alanis came into the house, my play days were pretty much over.   The way for me to show her that I didn’t want to play was by essentially ignoring her if she went into a play stance.    It wasn’t a sign of dislike or disdain – it was a sign of “I am not into that anymore – sorry”.   It is actually quite funny, to me at least – stuff I would “yell” at Jeter for doing to me I would rarely (if ever) yell at Alanis for.   I just was beyond the point of really caring about it.

Jeter:  Yeah, she’s lucky that I am not as “strict” as Josh was!  He would kick the crap out of me when I got out of line.  I do not do the same to Alanis if she gets out of line.  I am a submissive dog that wants no part of being the “alpha” in any pack.

Alanis:   I am actually similar in that regard – alpha does not interest me.   But since two submissive dogs don’t make for much fun, I tend to be a little less submissive when playing with Jeter!

Jeter:  The interesting part of the relationship with Alanis is that I didn’t actually like her at first.   But that is true of any “new” dog I meet.  I was not happy to see her when we first got together – but five minutes later, we were playing in the park as if we knew each other forever.

Josh:   I accepted that little brat Jeter the first day he came into this house.   If only I knew better – I was the boss, after all.  If I didn’t like having another dog or animal in this house, I could have easily rejected the idea and my parents would have had no choice other than to keep me as an only dog!

Jeter:   Your biggest mistake was liking the rabbit they had for a little while, Josh!  If you reject the rabbit, they may not have even TRIED to bring another animal into the house.

Josh:   Yep.    We co-exist great as three dogs in this house.  There really isn’t much of an alpha anymore, since I have retired from caring about any of that stuff.   I was the ruler of the dog world when I wanted to be, though.

Me:   Relationships between multiple animals in your household can be complicated.   As Jeter pointed out, we once had a rabbit in this house who tragically passed away.  Josh had no issues at all with that rabbit.  We never left them alone together, but he was perfectly OK with a bunny hopping around in the exercise room.   When it comes to multiple dogs, the best case scenario will always be that they can coexist in the household without any issues.  Like humans, dogs will have the occasional “disagreement”.  Unlike humans, they can usually let it go instead of holding a 50-year grudge over spilled grape juice.    As I like to say in this blog, watch your dogs closely for anything obvious.  It is essentially a bad thing if one dog is constantly growling at another dog.     Consider licking, cuddling up next to each other, not fighting over food, etc. as good things.  Dogs by nature are pack animals that will form their own little hierarchy.  Don’t try to fight their hierarchy unless you are getting the feeling that they are trying to be the true leader of the entire household (meaning:  Including YOU).   They have many years of evolution on their side, and will be able to figure it out for themselves.  In the meantime, consider a multi-dog house without any (or many) issues to be a blessing.  

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