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Agression, how much is too much?

July 5th, 2007, 04:38 PM
I have an eight month old female Australian cattle dog and a six month old male Australian shepherd.

They where together since the Ausie was 12 weeks old, so at the beginning the blue heeler, was bigger. Now the coin is reversed. The Aussie is already something like five pounds and an inch bigger, so is starting to assert himself.

I am seen by bout of them as the pack leader, no question about that and I assert my position every day, in every thing we do. From the walk to the feeding time, to me having dinner first with them watching and them after I finished then I give them the food, etc.

Now, there have been a couple of scuffles lately, two at meal time that I break promptly and reprimand bout of them, after wards they finish feeding with out incident and today meal time is not an issue. Then they fought over a toy. Again I correct bout of them and took the toy away…

Just the other day I came back from work and took the leashes to take them out. It was latter than usual, and they where all exited and suddenly the where going at each other. This time the BH draw blood from a small nip on the tip of the ear of the Aussie. After that. When I got back from work or after leaving for a wile I don’t give any affection any more until they settle down…

My question is…
Is this behavior normal on young dogs, when they try to figure where is who on the pack order?

All the fights happened when I was present. And I believed that the Aussie started the growling and staring. Now I am more vigilant and if I catch him posturing or growling I correct immediately. This usually happens when he is next to me and the BH approaches to have some attention. I try not to discriminate and give bout the same amount of attention, and try changing order of feeding (whose plate put down first).

Second question.

Since I been present when all four or five fights took place, will I be to blame for them or is normal for them to fight for my attention. I am always assertive with them and not afraid to break the fight instantly. Never lasted a fight more than a couple of seconds. I know that they have not been fighting when alone because there have been no injuries on them.

Third question.

Should I need to let one win on a fight (I will hate to do that) so they determine who is the dominant one?
Or should I make very clear that fighting is just not allowed? Will this leave the order unsolved and lead to a more serious fight when they are older (bigger)

Any way I will appreciate all inputs.:)

July 5th, 2007, 08:48 PM
Dog aggression is pretty typical in ACD, no? (I'm not super familiar with the breed, I've only had a couple of friends who owned them).

It sounds like a combo of a few things are going on. First, your ACD is maturing and may not be as tolerant of other dogs as she once was, add to that that her puppy license to get away with obnoxious behaviour has likely run out with your other dog as well.

I think perhaps you're too fixated on the idea of pack hierarchy, instead, you might want to look at the triggers of the fights. From what you wrote it seems like toys are one (easy to fix, don't leave toys laying around, play with them, then put them away), food is another (again, feed the dogs away from each other and supervise) and then there seems like there is re-direction on the part of at least one dog in when they are aroused (when you come home).

Personally, I would get rid of all of the triggers I mentioned above, work on general obedience and making highly charged situations, like coming home from work, calmer. Ignoring them for a few minutes when you get back can do help, as can teaching them to do something, like go get a specific object, so that they have something other than each other to direct their energy at.

July 5th, 2007, 09:11 PM
Just my opinion , from a past experience , might not be the solution for your dogs . But I had this foster who was very dominant, jumped on one of my dog while my dog was just walking by a toy. A behavior specialist told me to tie the dominant dog to a leash and attach it to me. And I was to do my usual things around the house. This teached the dog that I was the dominant one , I was in charge and he could quit being dominant. It did work for my foster. I also took all the toys away when I wasn't there to supervise. You say they don't do it when you're not home , but one day , it could happen. I can see you already put a lot of work to correct this issue :thumbs up , I sure hope it works out for you and both dogs. :fingerscr

July 6th, 2007, 10:37 AM

I want to try and training them to stop the bad behavior, instead of taking away the triggers, of course the firs step is to take away triggers if I'm not around to supervise.

On a note, The ACD starts obedience training tomorrow and seems to have the right temperament to be a rescue dog. FD all ready look at it and after a basic obedience and other evaluation will start a year and a half training schedule and after that hopefully will be certify in Spain as a search and rescue dog.

That have to keep her busier... and me :rolleyes:

As for the male Aussie, I just found an agility club near by...

I'll post progress.