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Dominace/food aggression

KimandAutumn
November 1st, 2008, 07:39 PM
Autumn has a very dominant personality; not sure if its aggressive but most certainly dominant. We are always on our toes with her unable to let up for a second. From a young age we have practiced NILF with her. No couch priviledges, she doesn't sleep with us, she must work for everything she wants including food, water, walk, toys, and bathroom. We work everyday with her with some form of training or obedience work.

Let me start at the begining...about 8 months ago I came home with some free samples of some dehydrated dog food. I made a bowl up and offered a bit to Blaze. She'll never say no to anything then to Autumn who, over time, has gotten quite picky with food. I sat down on the floor with the bowl in hand and let her sniff at it. She's not to sure about thing. Cat walks in, casually walks over to see what we are doing. He's about to take a quick sniff of things and keep moving like he normally does. I see Autumn's top lip curl, no growl nothing, just the curl then BAM attacks the cat. He didn't suffer any damage, he was quick but a bit wet from her lips. I blamed myself. Why did I let him come near us? Why did I let this happen?

Over this time her behaviour when someone comes to our door is out of control. We don't have many people over but when the doorbell goes she goes insane. She will lunge at the living room window, hit her head a few times. Trying to claim personal space at the door is extremely hard because she's so big she bullies her way in and she's not aggressive to people and never shown aggressive signs to people either. Last night for Halloween, we kept a collar and leash on her and by the end of the night my hands hurt from her pulling and fighting on leash. I would have to physically put her in a sit/down. By physical I mean I had to guide her bum down with my hand because she was so intense verbal commands or distractions weren't working.

Food aggression...again. Twice she's attacked Blaze in the last week. Last night she drew blood on Blaze. Thankfully, these were only superficial wounds on her ear and throat area. This is never acceptable but poor Blaze. She's old and can't defend herself well. First time it happened about 5 days ago: I have an elevated feeder for Autumn with a food/water bowl. For Blaze I had a small stand that I put her food bowl on. These are about 8 feet apart. Blaze is always done first then walks over to get a drink of water and then to her pillow in the living room. Something set Autumn off about Blaze drinking and she went after her. Lasted seconds then broke up on its own.

Last night both dogs were on their pillow having their nighttime cookie because they are both night pukers if their stomach is empty. Blaze was cleaning up her crumbs and Autumn walked over and decided those crumbs were hers and went after Blaze again. This time it lasted longer and hubby went over grabbed Autumn's back legs and pulled her away, grabbed her collar walked her up to her crate and put her inside for a time out. We checked Blaze over and couldn't see anything until this morning and we saw the dried blood on her ear and throat.

For breakfast this morning I got both bowls ready while they were out peeing. Both dogs come in. Autumn gets put in a down/stay on her pillow in the living room. Blaze is in a stay in the kitchen where I give her her bowl and she finishes eating and drinking and taken to the living room to her pillow. Autumn gets called into the kitchen and is allowed to eat.

What else can I do? I'm at a loss... I feel like a failure.

TeriM
November 1st, 2008, 08:03 PM
I know how you are feeling :sad:. We had some issues with Riley a few months ago and have been working very hard to fix them. It is frustrating when we seem to do everything we are supposed to and then still end up with a problem dog. The good news is that Riley is very improved and I am sure you can make progress with Autumn.

Check out this http://www.amrottclub.org/rrrr.htm. It is called Radical Regime for Recalcitrant Rovers and is basically a stepped up version of NILF.

I would recommend keeping a leash on Autumn at all times so she can easily be corrected. I would also move to feeding her only in her crate. Everytime she is successful in bullying Blaze (or the cat) gives her more likelihood to continue with the behaviour. Eliminate the opportunity for the behaviour to happen for now and as she improves you can go back to supervised eating etc. I personally always feed my dogs in seperate rooms and have since day one :shrug:.

I would also recommend you try a prong collar. I know tons of people are very opposed to them and think they are a torture device. I have a big dog with attitude and basically he can run right over top of me so we needed the prong and it has been great. It is actually much more humane then a basic choke (yes, I tried both on my leg and the prong/pinch was much better). Use the prong in your basic obedience sessions and to enforce that you mean business when around the door etc. Here is a great article on the use on them http://www.flyingdogpress.com/prong.html.

Good luck :grouphug:.

hazelrunpack
November 1st, 2008, 09:41 PM
You're not a failure... :grouphug: Some dogs just have a penchant for being strawbosses. :shrug:

I agree with TeriM...eliminate the situations that you know lead to trouble. We feed our dogs in shifts/separate rooms to keep the peace, having found out that some of them treat all food as their own and some of the others object to that line of thinking. :o

Are Blaze and Autumn having any other conflicts, or just the spats over food? If it's just the food, you're ahead of the game because you can control feeding times pretty easily...just be careful of the occasional dropped item on the floor if both dogs, or Autumn and the kitty, are in the room.

KimandAutumn
November 1st, 2008, 10:39 PM
So far all incidences have been related to food only. Even last night after the attack Autumn was more than happy to cuddle up next to Blaze at bedtime like nothing happened.

kandy
November 3rd, 2008, 01:05 PM
One thing I noted - the physical punishment and being put in the crate. During the other instances of Autumn attacking, was she also punished? Dogs learn by association, so if Autumn is being punished every time Blaze and/or the cat & food are around - then she could associate them being in the vicinity of her food as something to be feared. Autumn likely isn't associating HER OWN behavior with the discipline but assuming since each time Blaze and/or the cat are around her food she gets punished, its better to keep the others away. If you want Autumn to continue to see her crate as a good place, don't ever use it for disciplinary purposes. Same with a prong collar, anything that causes a dog pain or discomfort is likely to be associated with whatever is going on at that precise moment - whether that be kids at the door or another dog in the room, etc. Kids ring the doorbell, dog experiences pain = dog associates the kids at the door with her pain.

I would agree that the food gaurding is easily remedied by seperating the animals when food is involved. The dog going nuts at the door is also fixable, you just have to change her associations. Start by having someone ring the bell, head towards the door - but if the dog is going ballistic, then turn away and go into the other room. The bell rings again, you go to the door, if the dog barks, you turn away and go into the other room. Do that enough and the dog will get the message that if she barks, the door doesn't open. If the bell rings and she doesn't bark, praise like crazy and open the door.

BenMax
November 3rd, 2008, 01:08 PM
One thing I noted - the physical punishment and being put in the crate. During the other instances of Autumn attacking, was she also punished? Dogs learn by association, so if Autumn is being punished every time Blaze and/or the cat & food are around - then she could associate them being in the vicinity of her food as something to be feared. Autumn likely isn't associating HER OWN behavior with the discipline but assuming since each time Blaze and/or the cat are around her food she gets punished, its better to keep the others away. If you want Autumn to continue to see her crate as a good place, don't ever use it for disciplinary purposes. Same with a prong collar, anything that causes a dog pain or discomfort is likely to be associated with whatever is going on at that precise moment - whether that be kids at the door or another dog in the room, etc. Kids ring the doorbell, dog experiences pain = dog associates the kids at the door with her pain.

I would agree that the food gaurding is easily remedied by seperating the animals when food is involved. The dog going nuts at the door is also fixable, you just have to change her associations. Start by having someone ring the bell, head towards the door - but if the dog is going ballistic, then turn away and go into the other room. The bell rings again, you go to the door, if the dog barks, you turn away and go into the other room. Do that enough and the dog will get the message that if she barks, the door doesn't open. If the bell rings and she doesn't bark, praise like crazy and open the door.

Very good points here. Is this food aggression only aimed at animals? How about humans? Please let me know.

KimandAutumn
November 3rd, 2008, 07:26 PM
god you guys make it sound like I beat my dog. I don't beat my dog. We don't physically punish her. After we broke the fight up, since we didn't have a leash handy, we held the collar and walked her upstairs to her crate so we could check Blaze for injuries. Each time was handled in a calm manner as to not upset either dog.

And to answer your question each incident is towards animals never humans.

Laylapet
November 3rd, 2008, 10:37 PM
Yeah I don't see the "physical punishment" either. I mean we're talking about keeping the dog from mauling guests and preventing a potential dog fight here - you can't lure them away with treats in this situation and you shouldn't try.

BenMax
November 4th, 2008, 08:20 AM
Oh my- I don't think anyone was implying that you were physically punishing your dog. What was stated however is that the dog will associate a form of punishment (being put in the crate) after an incident.

I am glad to hear there is no aggression towards humans (this is my specialty) so I have nothing to add.

Good luck.

les
November 4th, 2008, 10:36 AM
I disagree totally with the statements that when you correct Autumn she's going to think the other dog caused the correction. That's just not true. Putting her in the crate for a time out is not the best choice because dogs don't understand "time out" like kids do - however, to put her in the crate to check the other dog for injuries makes perfect sense.

I am a certified dog trainer who has dealt with both people and animal aggression issues.

I don't go the "positive" way, in that if a dog is aggressive you give them treats .... no way. If I'm working with a client who is uncomfortable and doesn't know how to correct, I tell them to avoid all situations where the dog may show aggression and let the trainer deal with those situations.

I don't normally post training advice but I read the posts and want to this time!

If it was me - here's what I would try: ..... I would keep Autumn on a leash while you're feeding them. I would keep them in the same set up they've been in. I feel to move them apart, although you're eliminating the situation, you're not teaching Autumn anything. (You know .... the dog eats shoes so the people put all the shoes in the closet but never bother to spend the time teaching the dog NOT to eat shoes! ;))

Do you live with someone else (not a child) who is home while feeding time is going on? Even better if there's 2 of you. One of you hold the leash (keep it loose), the second person has a water bottle (super soaker with a firm spray is ideal) or a shake can (although, shake can is also going to correct the other dog which isn't really fair).

Both of you need to be calm and relaxed - body energy is important. So you set her up. If she goes after the other dog, firm leash correction (leash snap), loud, firm - NO! (not screaming - just loud and calm), at the same time the second person squirts her with the water (doesn't have to be in the face - can be on the side area - spray has to be sort of powerful obviously!) or shakes the shake can.

I would repeat that as much as I could. If she remains calm when the other dog is near or at the water bowl, use calm praise for Autumn.

That's what I would do =)

BenMax
November 4th, 2008, 10:44 AM
[QUOTE=les;687863] Putting her in the crate for a time out is not the best choice because dogs don't understand "time out" like kids do - however, to put her in the crate to check the other dog for injuries makes perfect sense.

I don't go the "positive" way, in that if a dog is aggressive you give them treats .... no way.

If it was me - here's what I would try: ..... I would keep Autumn on a leash while you're feeding them. I would keep them in the same set up they've been in. I feel to move them apart, although you're eliminating the situation, you're not teaching Autumn anything. (You know .... the dog eats shoes so the people put all the shoes in the closet but never bother to spend the time teaching the dog NOT to eat shoes! ;))
QUOTE]

Thank Dog! Yes thank you for this.

les
November 4th, 2008, 10:47 AM
I just wanted to add - if you're at ALL uncomfortable with correcting her and think she may turn on you, your best bet is to hire a professional to help you through it.

BenMax
November 4th, 2008, 10:54 AM
I just wanted to add - if you're at ALL uncomfortable with correcting her and think she may turn on you, your best bet is to hire a professional to help you through it.

Great advice.

kandy
November 5th, 2008, 11:30 AM
Wasn't saying or implying that you "beat your dog" but IMO, grabbing a dogs legs and pulling them backwards is definitely physical.

Each person has different ideas of what will or will not work in training a dog. I personally try to keep my training based on positive reinforcement rather than negative reinforcement or isolation and if I ever had to hire a professional trainer, I would look for one that practices those methods. Good Luck! :)

BenMax
November 5th, 2008, 11:34 AM
I hear you Kandy - it really depends on the dog as to what type of training is required. I really go with what works. Some dogs do not fair well with certain training methods and nothing is concrete. Sometimes I get dogs that require 'fixing' (for a lack of a better word) immediately and therefore some positive re-inforcement methods do not work since there not enough time to get the desired results. I missed the pulling the leg parts however. I would personally never recommend that someone hurt an animal either.

clm
November 5th, 2008, 12:23 PM
I'm sorry, I have no suggestions for you, but I hope you manage to get it sorted out. Autumn is a big dog so it certainly can't be easy.
I feel so lucky that both my guys have no issues in that way, they eat side by side, one can push the other out of their bowls, one of the cats can come and push it's way into their food and there isn't even a growl, they just stand back and let the cat eat. Treats are different, Bentley wants every bully stick that's going, but he just steals it and runs off, there's no serious fighting involved.
:fingerscr you can get Autumns aggression to a more comfortable control level.

Cindy

KimandAutumn
November 5th, 2008, 02:57 PM
ok people we are talking about a 70 lb dog and a 150lb dog. Sorry, trying to "lure" them with a treat or some positive verbal commands wasn't going to break them up and neither one of us was getting in the middle of those two.

We grabbed the back end of instigator and pulled away to break it up.

And why are you so hung up on the isolation part of this: putting Autumn in her crate. Should we have left her out to go after Blaze again while we were trying to inspect her for injuries....Blaze is a 14 year old dog. She had to be protected.

I'm a bit baffled by some of your responses.

BenMax
November 5th, 2008, 03:01 PM
Let me ask you a question (this has happened to me so this is why I ask) - is the older dog in good health?

I had a younger XPit Shep and an old black lab that were the best of buds. The older dog was ill (I was not aware) and the younger one started attacking him. I brought the black lab to the vet and was told he had cancer.

pitgrrl
November 5th, 2008, 03:09 PM
Wasn't saying or implying that you "beat your dog" but IMO, grabbing a dogs legs and pulling them backwards is definitely physical.

Each person has different ideas of what will or will not work in training a dog. I personally try to keep my training based on positive reinforcement rather than negative reinforcement or isolation and if I ever had to hire a professional trainer, I would look for one that practices those methods. Good Luck! :)


I'm pretty bog on positive training methods and think they should always, always be the first thing to go to. I also think that each dog is an individual and the more skills and types of knowledge one has to work from to tailor fit an approach to the dog in question, the better.

All that said, if you're in a situation where you have to break up a fight between strong, determined dogs, I think you do, as calmly and quickly as possible, what you need to do to breakup the fight before too much damage is done. Physically intervening in a scrap does not, to me, speak to a persons normal training philosophy :shrug:

BenMax
November 5th, 2008, 03:17 PM
Good point Pitgrrl - especially your last sentance.

K9 Love
November 5th, 2008, 09:59 PM
I'm new here, first post, maybe not the best choice, (lol) but I have a different view on food aggression, specifically with other pets in the household.

Now I agree that if your unsure, worried about the dog redirecting aggression towards you if you give a firm correction, or really just unsure about anything at all, professional help, and avoidance until you can get that help is important. It sounds as though you've already got a good handle on a lot of things, rank reduction/NILIF for one and sometimes, depending on the dog, "normal" methods don't work and you have to up the ante.

My opinion on issues that are related to NORMAL household behaviours; these are things that you have to do everyday that shouldn't be a hassle, is avoidance is just about the worst thing you can do AND I don't feel anyone should have to inconvenience themselves (feeding dogs in separate rooms, separate times, holding your breath if a dog gets out etc), it's just not necessary.

In my house my dogs eat within 2 feet of each other, sometimes very high value items like raw meat, table scraps etc. One and only rule? You keep your head down in your bowl. Period. They don't lift their heads out of the bowl, they aren't allowed to look at each other, they eat, head in their bowl and that's it. Raw feedings are always supervised though.

If one of my dogs displays signs of displeasure for a normal household activity, it was definitely the WRONG choice! LOL. I FLOOD my dogs with that activity. You don't want other dogs eating food in front of you, well guess what? Your leashed with a correction collar on and the other dog is going to eat a juicy bone right in front of you. Show ANY displeasure and I'm cranking you. The first few minutes are tense, and I do not reward, not even verbally until I see a definitive change in the dog's demeanor, specifically signs of submission or any type of understanding. THEN and only then will I verbally reward, possible treat.

Bottom line, the behaviour just IS NOT acceptable. When I started feeding my dogs together, on feeding schedules side by side, the first few days I felt like I was my mother.. nagging constantly. "EHT!" if a head came out of the bowl, "WRONG!" if they even took the slightest shift in weight toward the other dog, but being consistent and firm with your rules is so important. Looking at the other dog is NEVER allowed. If they can't make eye contact, and they don't near each other's bowls, then there is no reason for any scuffles to break out.

I would leash this dog, with a correction collar for the next few feedings, giving firm checks if the dog even THINKS about looking, sniffing or moving towards the other dog. I would place them around 10 feet away for the first feeding, using a 6 foot lead, standing around 3 or 4 feet behind the dog for the best correction, but safety for the other dog. It's important to remember the rules are for BOTH dogs though, not just the "offending" dog. Eye contact from the "victim" could pull a reaction out of Autumn. The rules are for both of them.

Once everyone's settled the first time out, I'll guess around a minute in, I would start very distinct verbal rewards. Dogs can learn and understand sentences with time, I think I said something along the lines of: Good dogs. Head in your bowls, eat your dinner. Simple, to the point and they got it. A sharp verbal correction to get their attention; EHT! Eat your dinner! Lower your voice for verbal corrections don't raise it. Dogs lower their tones when correcting each other, high pitches are for excited play time.

If your worried about the other dog moving towards Autumn's dish and your alone, you can tether the other dog to something strong but hold onto Autumn's leash as she's the instigator. This way the other dog can't get to Autumn's dish either.

Hope it all made sense and good luck! I know at times with our dogs we can feel like complete and utter failures but this doesn't help either of us! Instead of feeling sad, get MOTIVATED! You can do this! :D

JM4611
November 15th, 2008, 11:16 AM
ok people we are talking about a 70 lb dog and a 150lb dog. Sorry, trying to "lure" them with a treat or some positive verbal commands wasn't going to break them up and neither one of us was getting in the middle of those two.

We grabbed the back end of instigator and pulled away to break it up.

And why are you so hung up on the isolation part of this: putting Autumn in her crate. Should we have left her out to go after Blaze again while we were trying to inspect her for injuries....Blaze is a 14 year old dog. She had to be protected.

I'm a bit baffled by some of your responses.

I'm interested in why Autumn goes insane when someone comes to the door. Does she spend
a lot of time outside and does she get a lot of exercise? Does she spend much time alone?