Hope for our newly aggressive dog?

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Alsea's picture
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Joined: 2010-05-31

To make a long story short (I couldn't figure out how to link to my All About Alsea post in "tell us about your dogs", sorry)  I'd first like to get a sense of how hard or impossible this problem will be to solve.  Our wonderful 3-year old female doberman Alsea went after our other dog, her companion of a year now, for the first time day before yesterday.  It was in a very stressful environment, so we can understand it, but we just don't know if she'll get over it, or if she's established some sort of aggressive dominant behavior she'll want to continue.  At the time we had her tied up (just for a very short period of time while we were setting up our trailer) but while we weren't looking the dogs got too close together, maybe tangled leashes, clashed over a rawhide (which they've previously been able to share) and it took the two of us and about three men from the campsite next door and a bucket of water to pry them apart.  Freakishly there was no blood, so there is a possibility that they actually got tangled in collars and leashes, etc., but Alsea locked on and would not let go.  She growled ferociously and bared her teeth whenever she caught sight of her sister DD for the rest of our time there, which obviously we cut short.  We had to keep them separated, which made the drive home with two people and three dogs in an SUV quite a challenge.  SOOO . . . Is there hope?  Is there a good training approach?  Or are we fooling ourselves?  We're willing to do whatever it takes, we don't believe in giving up on dogs when likely it is our fault in the first place.  Please help us find some answers.

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^,^'s picture
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OK this is my last time to post tonight as other will be along later in the AM, but I keep wondering did you give any kind of discipline. And if so what? I keep think I would have pop her snot every time she growled ferociously and bared her teeth. And if that is too harsh than a few sprays of mixed water and vinegar or peppermint mouthwash and water right on the mouth too! My Yorkies hate the taste of peppermint! I found that out when I bought some dog tooth paste mint flavored.

Well good luck! Oh and I don't permit fighting, if it starts I end it!!! off to the crate you both go!!!!! then ignore!

glengate's picture
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Joined: 2009-07-22

Judy and Izzy ^,^ wrote:

I keep think I would have pop her snot every time she growled ferociously and bared her teeth.

The problem with this advice is that the growling and the baring of teeth are warnings, and if you correct the dog for warning, then you're asking it to just attack the other with no warning.  Extingushing warning behaviour which is a doggie language isn't necessarily the best idea. 

At the first sign of this kind of warning going on between two dogs, I'd definitely be watching them closely if not outright separating them immediately, especially when you have known the problem to escalate. 

I have girls that offer the odd warning snap or sneer, but it never escalates.  I don't really intervene when I see the warning behaviour because *in my case* it hasn't escalated and the one being warned gets the message. 

However, the original poster would probably do well to get a behaviourist involved who can actually witness the dogs and offer advice in person.  There are some females who just can't or won't tolerate living with another female.

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Thanks Glengate! I never thought of it that away!  ::)

Alsea's picture
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Joined: 2010-05-31

I have already checked into local trainers, and will seek out a professional to observe Alsea here at home with her pack.  I started walking her again this morning, that seemed to make a huge difference in her peace of mind.  Since I know that her behavior is directly related to her own fears, I have not punished her (more than very strong no's), just removed her from the others.  And she's getting a lot of praise and reinforcement for good behavior.  Thanks for answering me, it is greatly appreciated.

rgreen4's picture
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I am showing you two photos out of context:

Facts - the male is my then 6 year old named Red, the female is my then 7 month old named Princess. There was growling and snarling and a lot of chasing and rolling on the ground. How much blood - not a drop.

Dobies play rough. At times during the day, Princess will grab Red's neck and pull on him to initiate - play. Now I don't allow this in the house because if it got out of hand a lot of damage would occur to my home. While I never discipline the warning I do not allow one to put teeth on the other in the house.

You commented that they were snarling and growling and "going at each other", yet surprisingly there was no blood or wounds. This tells me they were trying each other out and it was a case of determining who is going to have the upper position in the pecking order. If Alsea wanted to hurt DD, then there would have been a lot of wounding and a good deal of blood.

Is this the first camping trip you have taken all the dog on since you have had Alsea? If not, I am curious about why it was so stressful on the dogs.

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hmmm Good point! But they sure look angry don't they...I really need to find Izzy a buddy to play with like that!! Cause that would kill a yorkie!

Nice shots by the way! And 2 beautiful reds!

rgreen4's picture
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Had an incident this evening. Red was asleep on the dog pad in the living room normally both Red and Princess are on it in the late evening. Princess was asleep at my feet. She go up, and put her head on my leg and looked up at me. This is her "outside now" signal. So I asked "outside?" and she got up and ran over to Red and poked him with her nose. Suddenly awakened from deep sleep he bit her. He was rewarded with a loud yelp and Princess was mortified, slinking away. Red went over to her to check on her. She responded by licking his face and ears.

For those unfamiliar with canine behavior, this is submissive behavior. No blood, no fang marks - this time. Next time, she will probably wake him up a little more gently.

lugreen's picture
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Joined: 2010-04-22

I agree with rgreen4's advice to check out Cesar Milan and Victoria Stilwells' programmes; and http://www.cesarsway.com could be useful too.

The other thing is to look at is the amount of exercise Alsea gets; Cesar recommends treadmills as a good alternative to a walk on bad weather/busy days.  It's no substitute for his pack walk, but better than not walking and focuses the dog far more than a run around the yard.  Most of his therapy cases mention the need for proper exercise, especially with high energy dogs like dobes.  Tire her out and then reintroduce her to the pack.

On a personal note, don't give up.  I had a rescue SBT for three years; she was very damaged but so rewarding on the days when something clicked and we made a little progress!  Even on the worst days, that look of "your my human" love was worth it!