Hi all- I hope I'm not repeating. I tried to read all the "dominance" discussions and didn't find what I was looking for.


We have two girls: litter mates five months old.  They've been to one puppy socialization class, and we have worked with them at home (not perfectly, I admit) but pretty consistently with training. They are housebroken, sit and fetch.  I mention this because I'm feeling "Bad Mom" right now, and I don't know if we've gone wrong somewhere. 

We're planning on going to official "training", but were advised to wait until they were 6 months old.


The new problem we're having right now is that they are having what _sound_ like terrible tussles.  They growl and snarl something fierce.  I've watched very closely, and they aren't actually biting and they don't hurt each other, but it sounds _awful_. 


My husband thinks they're working out dominance "who's the leader" between them. Since they're not hurting each other, he thinks we should let them be.  I've read around a lot, and I'm confused.  They're not unclear about _us_ being in charge, they just seem to be fussed at each other.  


Should I do something? Should I let them fuss? 


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It sounds completely normal. It's not necessarily dominance; it sounds like they're disagreeing about something. If you can figure out what tends to trigger it (food, for example) you can work with them to lower that threshold, but even then they're going to have arguments. Very vocal, loud dog arguments that result in no injury are nothing to worry about and should not be stopped; intervening tends to do more harm than good.

In my experience littermates are even more likely to do stuff like this than other parts of the group; it's one of the reasons I really discourage buying (or keeping) littermates. For one thing, they're so bonded with each other that they tend to seek out the approval of the other before they do from you (in other words, it's harder to train them or to distract them from each other) and for another they go through the same stages at the same time and that tends to translate to more arguments. Obviously, you already have these two and I don't want you to rehome one or anything like that, but you should be aware that issues, some harmless but annoying like this and others perhaps more worrisome, will be common as they grow.
Joanna is right on. Puppies and grown dogs play and sometimes play very rough compared to we humans. I love to watch puppies wrestling and scrapping over a squeaky or something. Listen closely though and you can tell when the play escalates too far and someone actually starts to lose their temper because a nip or a bite was too hard. It's just like human kids playing! Dogs have their "play rules" and can work it all out between themselves with minimal interference from humans. Gromit and our wiener dog Holly sound like they are going to destroy each other sometimes but it's all just "slobber biting."
Our two boys (not related) have "fights". They sound like they are killing each other, but never any blood or injuries, maybe a hurt feeling here and there. Sometimes I think it is just because someone looked at the other one wrong. They are best friends and are happy with each other 99.9% of the time. I just yell at them to "stop it", and they usually do. Once when we were outside they started and I happened to have the hose in my hand and I sprayed them. They both looked shocked with this what did you do that for look. All siblings have silly fights!
Thanks everybody. That's basically what my husband has been saying. (He'll be smug now). It makes me feel better to get confirmation from others. Our girls love each other 99% of the time too.

I've heard here before too that we shouldn't have gotten littermates, but our first dogs (when we got married) were littermates, just farm puppies from my in-laws farm, and we never had any of these problems. They loved each other so much and did so well together that my husband really wanted to have litter mates again.

The breeder we were working with broke her hip right before we got our girls and I sometimes wonder if she would have let us take them both if she wasn't so laid up!

thanks again though. I'll calm down and let them tussle.
Something worth mentioning is that Corgis are scrappy little dogs and that even amongst the best of Corgi pals Welsh tempers will flare sometimes. My previous Corgis were litter mates and every so often they'd get into it over one thing or another (usually food) but 5 minutes later they were back playing or coming to me to be petted. Only a very few times in the years I had them did they get into it so seriously that I had to separate them.

As time goes by and you get to know your pups' little quirks and personalities you'll be able to pick up better on how they are interacting and the the little subtleties of it. Learning the differences between them and just watching them be themselves is one of the really fun parts of owning Corgis. In time one dog may become more dominant than the other one but that's not necessarily a big deal, just the dogs working out their natural need for structure and hierarchy. Again, with my two previous Corgis the male was dominant but that didn't really mean much on a day to day basis.
Thanks. I'm sure we'll figure it out. It does seem to be usually about food, but it's not like they don't let each other eat.

I don't know what I would do with out you guys on this website!

and by the way- Gromit is a great name, and that's a super cool photo with the shades!
I think these are all good comments:) however I would add that even among females who are not littermates, even in wild dogs , where there are more than one female, there are apt to be dominance issues, and especially in littermates, dominance is established very early. In households with more than one female dog in the pack, if you stand back and watch, the signs can be very subtle, but if you watch them interact , you will usually be able to tell who is the "dominant" one. I have a spayed female and an intact female much younger and even more timid, but I see her try to assert her dominance over the older spayed female occassionally, and its like some kind of flash from the wild fittest survive thing.. She postures and tries to get her head over the spayed ( bigger) female occassionally as if to say I AM THE the breeding female HERE! Its weird to watch, and I don't think she knows why she needs to do this little ritual, but I suspect it is a bit of "wild" genes, certain behaviors by the older spayed female , trigger a seemingly auto response from the younger intact female. They don't "fight" but every once in a while she seems to insist the older spayed female show some kind of submissive posture or other.
Occassionally the older spayed female does what I call almost a "humping " behavior, and the little one quickly puts her in her place. At the dogpark when we play fetch, the spayed female always gets to the ball first and starts back with the ball, snarks at the little one a couple times , then drops the ball for the little one every time!
I think in our house having a breeding pair alters the dynamic some, but the younger female is very submissive to her future mate( our male) but almost seems she is occassionally threatened by the other female. Most of the time they are devoted to each other and play , eat etc just fine, it just seems like there is definately a pecking order however subtle..
I guess in the wild, this dominant female thing was important, but as silly as it seems in such domesticated dogs, I bet if any of us looked closely, its still there however subtle somehow in the dynamic that allows them to operate in a "house pack" Interesting topic, and it doesnt have to be over food or toys, but you might see similar behavior over attention.
Pretty funny to see little pups in litters doing this , but I have seen pups bully smaller less active ones before eyes even open HAHAHAHAHAHAH
sometimes I have to admonish the girls...PLAY NICE!! hahahahaha
The noise when this is going on is just amazing, I heard a big snarling squealing deal outside, went to investigate and the 2 dogs (puppy on the ground, older dog standing over him) had their faces about 6 inches apart, mouths open--they weren't even touching!

It does add to the continuing conversation about gender and mixing genders. I have 3 neutered males that do well together,
We just got a puppy who is now 4 months and plays with our 2 year old. Sounds like they want to kill each other but are not even putting teeth into each other. It is just silly noise. They sleep together happily most of time. The other day though we thought we had to break it up and we each grabbed a dog. My 2 year old had her teeth caught in the collar snap of the puppy and it scared her. Neither one of the dogs could figure out whywe were upset. I do not smoke but sure wanted a cigarette after that. :(
I know what you mean about wanting a cigarette. Husband says, "great that everyone says that it's normal, but HOW LONG DOES IT LAST?" Seriously, is this a puppty thing or will they be doing this for ever?

I mean, you can't hear yourself think when it's going on, besides being freaked out.

our other litter mates never did this- (they weren't corgis, they were mixed breed farm dogs)


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