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Lady and aggression

May 17th, 2005, 10:35 AM
Hi guys. I don't know if this should be in the training area or not.

Well, Oscar has been here almost three weeks, and up until today we've only had one scary incident when Lady "corrected" Oscar for sticking his head in her food bowl. I've since had no choice but to feed them seperately because Oscar is a little bugger and hasn't learned his lesson! :rolleyes:

Today though, Lady and I were practicing her clicker training. We are in week one of the training and I am to click the clicker and then drop treats (I use small hotdog bits) on to the floor. It's so she will view the clicker as a positive thing. Anyhow, when we were finished I let Oscar out of his crate and he started licking the floor like a maniac. :p Well, Lady decided that the hotdog smell on the floor belonged to her and her alone and she grabbed Oscar with a snarl and very scary bark and sort of tossed him and pounced on him. I screamed and yes, jumped in to save Oscar who was crying. I picked him up and ordered Lady out of the kitchen, and made her lay down on her bed in the livingroom. I then checked Oscar for puncture wounds and broken bones but he seemed alright. The whole time I'm checking Oscar, Lady is staring at me, but I refused to even look at her. I ignored her for about a 1/2 an hour.

So, aside from practicing our clicker training away from Oscar areas (he's confined to the kitchen/dining room) what should I have done, and what should I do if this happens again? Was I wrong to ignore Lady? Wrong to pick Oscar up?

Sorry so long, but this is a learning process and my gosh my Lady can be scary! :(

Thanks for any advice.

May 17th, 2005, 10:40 AM
I hate to say this but the grab, toss and pounce is one step away from killing him. Many dogs toss their prey into the air to snap it's back and paralyse it in order to finish the kill. I'm not sure how you go about correcting this so I will leave it to the experts. Be very careful with Oscar around her, she's no longer just puppy disciplining. :sad:

May 17th, 2005, 10:48 AM
Oh no. I just don't know what to do then. Do you mean toss like, up in the air? When I say toss, I don't mean he went flying upwards, I mean she sort of threw him across the floor. I guess it doesn't really matter does it? :( I feel sick.

Things have been great. Oscar and Lady are together in the evenings (under my watch) and they play. Lady will take a toy and rub it on Oscars face to get him to chase her, she'll lay down and he'll chew on her and she will push him away and then lay down so he can do it again. She will growl at him when it gets out of hand, but the food thing is the only thing that has caused her to show any kind of aggression towards him.

I can't even stomach the thought of her killing him...

*I'm editing this to ask an additional question. We are currently trying to have a baby. Is this just a preview of what she will be like with a little one around?

May 17th, 2005, 11:05 AM
I am posting this only because I had a similar situation with my Bordeauxs when C`Zarr first came to live with us.
My darling Angel had never shown any aggression to anyone or anything before Zarr got here but they would get into serious bouts over the food dishes, to the point where I had to separate them completely to feed them.
Angel would growl at Zarr whenever they were together to eat, and they would fight and hurt each other ( he had learned to fight for food as he was the youngest male and the others would chase him away from the food dishes).
I started to feed them separately and would not give treats to them together until they could learn to not get in each others faces over them.

It took almost a month to get the problem under control but now we feed them together and can give treats to each one with the other one present without even a growl.

The trick is to be patient and to figure out that Lady is doing this because she is the alpha dog. For the time being I would separate them for feeding and treats.
What I had to do with Angel was to correct her the minute she would even snarl at Zarr. She had to learn that it was okay for him to be present and to be fed at the same time. ( Yes they did still fight but I was always standing between them when it came time for them to eat. Angel would turn to growl at Zarr and I would tell her very sternly "NO". She would then go back to eating. He would growl and I would do the same thing. I would say "No" and he would go back to eating.
I wanted to be sure that it was not going to be a food issue with either of them with anyone putting their hands into their dishes, so I would make them sit and put my hand in their bowl. I would do the same thing with their heads in the bowl. ( I would not suggest this to anyone who knows they will get bitten) Slowly the food aggression stopped.( They actually will eat out of each others bowl now with NO growling, snarling, or any aggressive behavior.

I think that correcting Lady the way you did was correct, you have to do your correcting immediately when they do the unwanted behavior or they won`t understand what they are being corrected for.

Please ask some of the other members on the board for suggestions as they all know a lot about correcting this type of behavior.

My only suggestion for now is to not feed them together and not to have treats handed out as that could start a fight.

Good luck, I know how scary it is when this happens ( My dogues combined weight is around 300 lbs and 300 lbs of mad is not fun to deal with no matter what it is)

May 17th, 2005, 11:14 AM
I would suggest that you work with this very hard over the next year. This is definitely going to be an issue when a child arrives, particuliarly when the child becomes mobile (crawling stage). Lady needs to learn now that food should be shared and that anyone or anything that wants a part of it can do so. It's almost impossible to watch a baby and a dog with food agression together at all times. I'm sure Tenderfoot or other experienced people with food aggression training will be able to start you on the right path. I can deal with it in my own home but do not offer advice freely as errors can lead to more harm than good. Nipping it in the bud is important for now and later. Sorry I can't be of more help. :o

May 17th, 2005, 11:36 AM

Thanks for the help guys. I am just going to have to continue being vigilant that they are not alone together. I feel badly for both of them. Oscar because he is a baby and he doesn't get it yet, and Lady because her home and space has been invaded. I am now wondering if it was selfish of me to get a second dog.

I appreciate all of the advice given and will take it to heart.

Lucky Rescue
May 17th, 2005, 11:55 AM
If you force Lady to allow a puppy to steal her food, she is going to be very resentful towards the puppy. By age alone, she is dominant and that dominance should be reinforced. In nature, adult dogs only allow puppies to take their food is if the puppies are their own and then only until a certain age.

You say the puppy was not hurt in any way. If Lady wanted to hurt him she certainly could have - she could have killed him with a bite - but she did not and it seems she was careful to NOT hurt him.

She saw the puppy licking up HER treats (and she had no way of knowing if more treats had appeared). To a dog, this is EXTREMELY bad manners, especially from a puppy.

Things have been great. Oscar and Lady are together in the evenings (under my watch) and they play. Lady will take a toy and rub it on Oscars face to get him to chase her, she'll lay down and he'll chew on her and she will push him away and then lay down so he can do it again. She will growl at him when it gets out of hand, but the food thing is the only thing that has caused her to show any kind of aggression towards him.

If food is the only area of contention, then make sure there is no food around when both dogs are together. Dont' drop food on the floor either.

I have to do this with my dog and cats. Chloe is wonderful, gentle and sweet with the cats at all times, BUT I know if one of them tried to sniff or take food from her, she would probably bite, or at the very least scare the crap out of them. This is normal behavior - guarding her food from other animals (although I can take anything from her) I just make sure the cats never come close when she is eating, or when I give her a treat. It's not difficult to do and the cats are now trained to stay away.

Are you able to take things away from Lady? Food, toys?

Here's a bunch of really great articles about dogs/kids and safety!

May 17th, 2005, 12:39 PM
I just wanted to throw in there that maybe you shouldn't throw the treats onto the floor, unless you're teaching "down". My basic obedience training instructor told us to throw the treats on the floor for "down", to let the dog think that the treats are coming from the floor, therefore they'll look down (and go down). :)

May 17th, 2005, 12:48 PM
Hi Lucky,

Yes, I'm able to take her food away, and as a matter of fact I quite often will pet her while she eats. I'm able to get her to stop eating in the middle of her meals and take the bowl away from her. Toys, I can get them, but it's a tug of war. She has never given up a toy willingly unless I make a trade. She isn't aggressive about the toys though, it's just all a game to her. I hadn't thought about the fact that Lady might think there were more treats left...but they were busily cleaning up the hotdog smell. I should have seen it coming. Thank you for the link!

Levimh, it's a part of her obedience training for me to click and drop, but I will ask my trainer if directly feeding them to her is a better idea. Can't see why not. Either way from now on we will be doing this part of the training in the downstairs of the house!

May 17th, 2005, 12:57 PM
Haha, good idea! Definitely ask your trainer and see what he/she says. I was just getting to the point where Lady needs to know the food is coming from you and not the floor. Good luck. :D