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Old May 17th, 2011, 03:45 PM
SamIam SamIam is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Canada
Posts: 447
Although it's on the older side of average, Chase has just gone through social maturity, and is challenging other dogs because of it. It seems that so far he has not lost a fight, so he is thinking he's pretty special and can win them all.

As LP has said, counter surfing is a learned behaviour, and whatever started it is long behind you. Although you can do some things to train a dog not to touch edibles in your absence, the effort involved is high, and the success rate low. You are probably better off making the counter physically inaccessible to the dogs, so that you can continue to use your kitchen as you like. For the cats you could also consider putting a cat flap on a closed door, as you may at some point have your baby gates jumped.

I disagree with LP on the likelihood of leadership to help you, but if you need to be 100% committed to it and not give up if the initial response is negative. Regardless of your decision in that area, I would book in a short obedience session with Chase every day or every other day. My focus for the sessions would be:
Distance SIT with distractions - if you haven't trained it yet, add distance and distractions to a reliable sit slowly; if you have, practice it to reinforce. Sitting is a neutral behaviour, neither submissive nor dominant, that communicates between dogs, I don't want to fight, but I am not bowing down to you either. You need to reach the point where you can get a sit during the initial posturing, growling, or circling that precedes biting.
COME with distractions - again, increase the difficulty slowly or if already trained, practice to reinforce.
WATCH me - Fighting cannot start or continue without eye contact with the opponent. Having Chase look at YOU is incompatible with him looking at the other dog. His gaze towards you should be soft and non-confrontational, but his focus should be strong.
LEAVE IT/OKAY - This can apply to anything, food, toys, other dogs. It does not necessarily mean touching is permanently forbidden, but it means you have veto power over his desires.

For management, if you know a dog who can win against Chase but fights using skill and not injury, it would help him to lose a fight. Other than that, avoid further interactions with the type of dog that is setting him off at this time. Build up slowly from dogs he is fine with, to those that cause a small reaction, to those that get under his skin even more. Accept that he will have a limit that you will not surpass.

Fence-running is quite instinctive for a shepherd, but if allowed to do so with neighbours, his level of excitement will increase, and he will begin to do it for the adrenaline rush. Work on your obedience towards this, and also teach him that the neighbour dogs are good. Pet them and talk to them, if Chase shows any sign of neutral or friendly behaviour towards them reward and praise him for it. A common mistake is to react by yelling or punishment, but these tend to increase aggression and animosity.
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