left to right: Circus (Dixie Dingo/Blackmouth Cur, ~50 lbs), Bourbon (Wolfhound, ~90-100 lbs), Alaska (Wolfhound, ~75-85 lbs)
not pictured: Molly (Mountain Feist, ~25 lbs)
(ninja edit: that is an old pic, from Janis' old house in TN. I'll get current pics soon.)
Poor little Molly is, to say the least, overwhelmed. Circus came over a day early, and Molly was in HEAVEN because, OMG, a playmate! It was tremendous fun watching her run run run around the yard with Circus in chase. Circus is a very muscular, agile dog, but she's still a bit gimpy from a near thing with a car a couple of weeks ago and Molly has a turbo boost installed. She'd lope along in front of Circus and make Circus think she had a shot at catching her, then suddenly kick in the turbo and shoot ahead twenty feet with turf flying behind her paws; it was like seeing somebody chirp the tires into third gear from a lazy cruise off the line in second. This is without even going into the cornering, which is unreal. I hadn't seen Molly have that much fun in FOREVER.
BUT, bringing in the big'uns yesterday was a lot more traumatic. Bourbon is confident and good natured in general, but Alaska isn't so certain of her second place position in the pack, and tends to be fierce about trying to protect it. Worse, she doesn't know how to ask for or take a submission. She doesn't growl, she just puts her head down and tail out and lunges in a straight line. I think she just doesn't understand the whole dominance/submission pack hierarchy thing very well, and attack is the only way she knows how to try to keep her spot. Molly could probably deal with JUST Alaska well enough - she doesn't give a damn about pack hierarchy, and with just one big dog, she either evades, or if cornered suddenly sprouts teeth and tends to startle the hell out of a bigger dog - but unfortunately it's NOT just Alaska. Bourbon and Circus immediately go into pack mentality when Alaska starts shit, and then poor little Molly ends up just cowering and shivering somewhere, afraid to go out in the open.
I think it's going to be okay though. I took all four dogs out today for a few hours while I read a book, and eventually had Molly coming out from under my chair and sniffing over / getting sniffed over (admittedly, more the latter) with the other dogs. The first time Alaska actually lunged for her I grabbed her and said "that's it, on your back" and forcibly rolled her on her back. Said a few stern things, then let her up and pet her and told her she was a good girl. That seemed to make a pretty big impression on her. After that she didn't lunge any more. Her body language did still get a bit off a couple of times, but I'd just grab and pinch the scruff of her neck and tell her NO, and to be a good dog, and she'd back down and then go sniff, and I'd tell her what a good girl she was.
Barking issues were sorta similar. "Hush" gently, then firmly, then firmly with a pinch on the scruff. Usually the first was enough, especially after they realized the third was an option. They're good dogs, and they are very eager to please Janis and love her to death, but this is kinda their first experience with really direct discipline. I think dogs and kids probably need a lot of both the soft and the firm, and I think Janis is probably a hell of a lot better with the former and me with the latter. We ought to make a good team.