Question about dominance behaviour

GeneralOrgana

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Hello!

I've read through pretty much everything I can find about dominance with two boars but we still have two boys who are... "difficult", shall we say? This is quite a long post - trying to include lots of info. :)

We got them from the same place, aged about 6-9 weeks. They'd grown up together and have always been together since, in a big cage.

We had the usual times where there was humping, chattering and so on, to establish who's the boss. Then it stopped for a while, though it still happened occasionally - mostly rumblestrutting and humping. The end result was always the same boss - let's call him BossPig. Our other boy made submissive noises, didn't seem to mind and became SubPig.

Then BossPig hit adulthood (as far as we can tell) at about 15 months and everything exploded. Loads of humping, loads of chattering teeth from both of them, nipping, small "fights" (where they scramble together, roll around and separate but they don't bite or try to deliberately harm each other) and that weird thing where one runs his nose up the other's back.

SubPig then picked up a scratch under his eye (accidental) which got infected and needed treating, so we bought another cage and put BossPig in there while we dealt with it. Healed beautifully (took a week) and we kept the cages right next to each other so they could lie together and see/smell each other all the time (unless they didn't want to) without danger of affecting the eye.

They REALLY missed each other. They were bored and pretty listless compared to when they're together, so as soon as things were better (last night) we put them back together in their (thoroughly cleaned) big cage with none of the usual objects - the most neutral space we could create. They were SO close to fighting - chattering teeth, stamping and so on - but they sorted it out thanks to my very brave partner talking constantly, stroking, offering them hay and doing whatever possible to calm them. Lots of caring but firm contact.

Since then, BossPig continues to harass SubPig. He humps, he rumbles, he follows him around and tries to sniff his posterior and all the usual stuff. It's not non-stop but it's very frequent and annoying.

What we don't get is that SubPig makes his submission noises but BossPig keeps going and going and going and going. We're naturally worried that SubPig's going to snap and there's going to be a real fight or another accident. We don't want things to escalate, nor do we want to separate them when they obviously love each other.

If SubPig has accepted him as boss, why is he doing this? Do we need to step in and establish ourselves at the top of the hierarchy so that BossPig chills out and stops trying to dominate? Is something else potentially wrong? Is this normal that it goes on for months?

Any thoughts and advice VERY gratefully received.
 

Siikibam

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The thing is that once you bond piggies there will be two weeks where the hierarchy play is continued. As long as underpig isn’t stopped from eating or resting (the former can be monitored by weekly weigh-ins) then leave them to it for now. It may be the case that top pig just wants to drive home the fact that he’s the boss.

Are you sure about their ages? Teenage months are from 4-14 months, although dominance behaviour does and can continue past that age. And another thing is living together from a young age or being related doesn’t matter. What is more important is character compatibility.

How big is their cage and do they have two of everything? Dominance displays can go on for a bit and look worse than they are to us.
 

GeneralOrgana

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The thing is that once you bond piggies there will be two weeks where the hierarchy play is continued. As long as underpig isn’t stopped from eating or resting (the former can be monitored by weekly weigh-ins) then leave them to it for now. It may be the case that top pig just wants to drive home the fact that he’s the boss.
So you think there's likely to be another two-week session because of the separate cages?

Are you sure about their ages? Teenage months are from 4-14 months, although dominance behaviour does and can continue past that age. And another thing is living together from a young age or being related doesn’t matter. What is more important is character compatibility.
Pretty sure, yes. Not perfectly accurate but close enough. They've never had trouble before. When BossPig turned adult (we're assuming it was that which caused the sudden explosion of harassment, chattering and everything) it got messy but, before that, it was just normal rumbling and humping. Does 12 months of living together without serious incident suggest they're compatible? :)

How big is their cage and do they have two of everything? Dominance displays can go on for a bit and look worse than they are to us.
The cage is a 5x2 or 6x2, I'd have to measure it. They have two hides, nibble bars, etc. BossPig doesn't stop SubPig eating, drinking, sleeping or anything. Right now, for example, they're in a quiet patch - both snoozing separately.

The real question is why he's carrying on when he's ALWAYS been dominant. The explosion of testosterone (presumed) that caused the accident came after plenty of time to establish his BossPig status, but he KEEPS going at it. Is SubPig faking submission while secretly moonlighting as the proprietor of his own business or something?!
 

Piggies&buns

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After a separation they will need to re-establish their relationship but the separation could destabilise things if there were already tensions (you said things started when he turned 15 months).
The fact that there wasn’t real trouble beforehand does not mean that their relationship will work for the long term - a separation could bring an existing rift to the forefront and mean their relationship may not work going forward. They can all of a sudden decide enough is enough and previously seemingly fine piggies, suddenly not like each other.

This does sound like it could be a problem bond

Just to try to get a timeline of how long this has been going on -
How long has it been since ‘everything exploded’ when he was 15 months?
How long has it been since they were separated and reunited?

The below deals with troubled bonds.

Bonds In Trouble
 

GeneralOrgana

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Just to try to get a timeline of how long this has been going on -
How long has it been since ‘everything exploded’ when he was 15 months?
How long has it been since they were separated and reunited?
The 15-month mark was in the middle of June. It slowly built up into more and more dominance display until the accident (8 days ago now). Separated 8 days ago, back together last night.
 

GeneralOrgana

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The below deals with troubled bonds.
Reading through that made us realise some things that our boys don't do, such as grooming each other and sitting together for ages (they did at one point but not for months). BossPig isn't bullying but he is harassing too often and that article - which we hadn't seen because we were focused on dominance behaviour - fits far too well. :(
 

GeneralOrgana

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Unfortunately, so much information I read is contradictory: rumbling and humping is normal... unless it's "too much" in which case it isn't... unless it is. Chattering and foot-stomping is a bad thing... but it can be a part of dominance... unless it isn't... but it might be. I know they're little lives, so it's hard to be precise but for people without years of experience, it's really hard to figure out what is or isn't normal.
 

Siikibam

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Unfortunately, so much information I read is contradictory: rumbling and humping is normal... unless it's "too much" in which case it isn't... unless it is. Chattering and foot-stomping is a bad thing... but it can be a part of dominance... unless it isn't... but it might be. I know they're little lives, so it's hard to be precise but for people without years of experience, it's really hard to figure out what is or isn't normal.
It is hard, partly because we want to...’impose’ our human behaviours on them. But that’s their world and we just have to try and understand it.

As long as one is submissive and doesn’t get ‘pushed over the edge‘ then they should hopefully be okay. Keep an eye on them and see how it goes. Good luck.
 

GeneralOrgana

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They've started facing off and chattering this evening. We'll give them a chance but it doesn't look hopeful. :(
 

Siikibam

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What happened? Sorry their relationship seems to have hit the road. Living alongside each other will quell their loneliness should the need arise.
 

GeneralOrgana

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Nothing specific happened, which is kind of why this is so difficult. SubPig keeps making submissive noises, BossPig keeps pushing regardless. They were on the point of lunging at each other because BossPig just won't leave it alone and SubPig's sick to death of it.
 

Piggies&buns

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Yes I understand it can seem contradictory and it’s about knowing when it has gone too far. Sleeping together, grooming etc, doesn’t have to occur even in a well bonded pair. My two boys are well bonded but don’t sleep together.
When dominance is occurring, we say to leave them to sort it out, if they are compatible it’s nothing to worry about, one will submit and it’ll be fine. But you are saying it’s almost constant and using words like ‘small fights’ ‘rolling around’, when you put then back together they were close to fighting, lunging - then I’d be concerned that there could be a problem there. Normally once you see furball type of rolling around, things are pretty serious and sounds as if the dominant is taking it too far.
Even if a full on fight never occurs, if the relationship isn’t harmonious and is almost always tense, then that isn’t good for them.
When you separate if the submissive seems happier then their relationship is over. The dominant will always be upset by a separation but it isn’t their reaction that is a decider.

Nothing specific happened, which is kind of why this is so difficult. SubPig keeps making submissive noises, BossPig keeps pushing regardless. They were on the point of lunging at each other because BossPig just won't leave it alone and SubPig's sick to death of it.
Right here - this is the bit which tells me things are likely over between them. The submissive will either become withdrawn, depressed, stop eating due to stress, or fight back - either way, it signifies a dysfunctional bond
 

CMaz13

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I can only presume they will take some time to get back into it as it hasn’t been that long since reunited right? The process might repeat but then hopefully will calm down again. Good luck!
 

GeneralOrgana

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Thank you for that, @Piggies&buns. I understand it's hard to be definitive about things that are at a distance and which you can't see, but your clarity and decisiveness are extremely helpful when so much advice is (naturally and unavoidably) vague.

We took BossPig out today and observed: SubPig was calmer, more relaxed, cuddlier with us and didn't seem tense all day, even when BossPig was at the bars rumbling or chatting (vocalising, not chattering teeth). They lay together a bit sometimes and, even then, BossPig was rumbling and trying to sniff SubPig's butt (which is precisely what he did before we put them back together).

The difference is instantly noticeable.

Given the escalation in 24 hours from this same stage yesterday to teeth chattering and borderline lunging - and potentially worse - it looks like this friendship is over. That may seem a precocious decision (one day and a bit back together) but, looking back, it becomes apparent that it was over several weeks ago (after puberty for BossPig) and we just didn't know how to tell - your comment about the small fights and rolling around applies to pre-separation.

Sad day. :(
 

Siikibam

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I’m sorry it hasn’t worked out for them. But living together will take care of the loneliness.
 

Fantasimo

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Hello!

I've read through pretty much everything I can find about dominance with two boars but we still have two boys who are... "difficult", shall we say? This is quite a long post - trying to include lots of info. :)

We got them from the same place, aged about 6-9 weeks. They'd grown up together and have always been together since, in a big cage.

We had the usual times where there was humping, chattering and so on, to establish who's the boss. Then it stopped for a while, though it still happened occasionally - mostly rumblestrutting and humping. The end result was always the same boss - let's call him BossPig. Our other boy made submissive noises, didn't seem to mind and became SubPig.

Then BossPig hit adulthood (as far as we can tell) at about 15 months and everything exploded. Loads of humping, loads of chattering teeth from both of them, nipping, small "fights" (where they scramble together, roll around and separate but they don't bite or try to deliberately harm each other) and that weird thing where one runs his nose up the other's back.

SubPig then picked up a scratch under his eye (accidental) which got infected and needed treating, so we bought another cage and put BossPig in there while we dealt with it. Healed beautifully (took a week) and we kept the cages right next to each other so they could lie together and see/smell each other all the time (unless they didn't want to) without danger of affecting the eye.

They REALLY missed each other. They were bored and pretty listless compared to when they're together, so as soon as things were better (last night) we put them back together in their (thoroughly cleaned) big cage with none of the usual objects - the most neutral space we could create. They were SO close to fighting - chattering teeth, stamping and so on - but they sorted it out thanks to my very brave partner talking constantly, stroking, offering them hay and doing whatever possible to calm them. Lots of caring but firm contact.

Since then, BossPig continues to harass SubPig. He humps, he rumbles, he follows him around and tries to sniff his posterior and all the usual stuff. It's not non-stop but it's very frequent and annoying.

What we don't get is that SubPig makes his submission noises but BossPig keeps going and going and going and going. We're naturally worried that SubPig's going to snap and there's going to be a real fight or another accident. We don't want things to escalate, nor do we want to separate them when they obviously love each other.

If SubPig has accepted him as boss, why is he doing this? Do we need to step in and establish ourselves at the top of the hierarchy so that BossPig chills out and stops trying to dominate? Is something else potentially wrong? Is this normal that it goes on for months?

Any thoughts and advice VERY gratefully received.
I have two brothers who are now 18 months old, and this could have been written about them 6 months ago!

I knew to watch out for the 6 month mark and the 10 month mark, but it seemed to go on for longer. Oggy (BossPig) was always so hormonal, always humping Finn and chasing him. But there was never a fight (some chattering and one lunge once) and Finn was never blocked from eating or not allowed to sleep, so I let them find their own pace.

At the time, I had a store bought cage which was probably a little too small (required size, but still) so I bought them a wooden hidey where they could chill out on top too, which helped. Then I upgraded to a 5x2 c&c and things have been fine, which I think is a mixture of age and space.

The boys don’t sleep together, but they go to each other when they’re startled, and if I take one out, the other one will call for him. Yesterday when I had them out for floor time to keep them cool, I watched Oggy wash Finn’s ear for the first time ever, and Finn washed Oggy’s side back (Oggy always washes me, he’s a licker!) So they aren’t affectionate with each other, but they love each other.

Oggy has stopped humping now, although he still rumble struts and rumblecorns when he’s excited. He’s just a rumbly pig. Finn completely ignores him these days (unless Oggy is sniffing Finn’s much larger than his testicles 😂)

So long story short, hang in there unless things get nasty and hopefully the teen hormones will settle.
 

Siikibam

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I have two brothers who are now 18 months old, and this could have been written about them 6 months ago!

I knew to watch out for the 6 month mark and the 10 month mark, but it seemed to go on for longer. Oggy (BossPig) was always so hormonal, always humping Finn and chasing him. But there was never a fight (some chattering and one lunge once) and Finn was never blocked from eating or not allowed to sleep, so I let them find their own pace.

At the time, I had a store bought cage which was probably a little too small (required size, but still) so I bought them a wooden hidey where they could chill out on top too, which helped. Then I upgraded to a 5x2 c&c and things have been fine, which I think is a mixture of age and space.

The boys don’t sleep together, but they go to each other when they’re startled, and if I take one out, the other one will call for him. Yesterday when I had them out for floor time to keep them cool, I watched Oggy wash Finn’s ear for the first time ever, and Finn washed Oggy’s side back (Oggy always washes me, he’s a licker!) So they aren’t affectionate with each other, but they love each other.

Oggy has stopped humping now, although he still rumble struts and rumblecorns when he’s excited. He’s just a rumbly pig. Finn completely ignores him these days (unless Oggy is sniffing Finn’s much larger than his testicles 😂)

So long story short, hang in there unless things get nasty and hopefully the teen hormones will settle.
This isn’t really hormonal because they’re out of their teenage months. And the relationship seems to have been tense anyway. But I’m glad it worked out with your two.
 

Fantasimo

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This isn’t really hormonal because they’re out of their teenage months. And the relationship seems to have been tense anyway. But I’m glad it worked out with your two.
I know, but boy relationships are a curious thing, so I was just giving my experience in case some of it helped 🙂
 
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