Behaviours – Sibling vs. friends
Samson and Delilah are siblings from the same litter and love to hate each other. Given that we've had a lot of guest hounds in the house, it has been interesting to see how they interact with the these guests, compared to how they interact with each other. Most of these guests have been with us for a relatively short time, from a few days to a little over a month. However, with Sonny joining us again almost a year ago, we now have a better understanding of how differently they behave with someone that isn't a sibling for a longer period of time.
We play this game with Samson, where we use a laser pointer - fondly referred to as 'Dotty' - which he loves hunting and chasing around the house. Delilah loves the game too, but only in so much as she chases Samson, barking madly at him the whole time. Samson can play the game by himself. Delilah, on the other hand, needs Samson for the game to work - if she sees the laser dot on the floor she'll look towards Samson and try get him to notice it.
Conversely, when we take them for walks, Delilah will often run around playing with other dogs in the field. Here Samson is the one chasing his sister. Regardless of which other dogs are involve, Samson will chase and bark at Delilah more than 80% of the time.
They have a wonderful bond when they're playing like this. However, they are also nasty to each other, nipping at each other far quicker than they do at other dogs. This is especially true when guarding something - whether this is a toy, a couch or one of us. Samson will use his 'big bark' whilst Delilah defaults to a low and rising growl. About once a month they'll also get more actively aggressive with each other - very rarely actually biting but with lots of noise, jumping at each other and showing off how mean they can be. For anyone unfamiliar with their behaviour, it can be quite scary.
With Sonny, though, it's different.
Sonny can be temperamental and dangerous around people when anything unexpected happens, but is much more submissive with other hounds in the house. The first bark or growl in his direction will get him backing off, and he'll never continue a fight with them.
In the same way as Samson or Delilah will sit with us, so too will Sonny. He will even growl if Samson or Delilah get up the couch to sit with Laura, but this doesn't escalate to a fight - even when Delilah practically climbs on top of him! Likewise, Delilah will let Sonny climb up and share the seat, where she would never allow Samson to do so.
This courtesy is extended to most of the other hounds we have stay with us. They'll share their toys, people and seats. It very much reflects how human families behave, where they have a low tolerance for each other but will be more considerate to visitors and friends.