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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 16877
Experience:  Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 16+ years
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I have a 6 year old peke-a-poo, a 2 year old peke-a-poo and

Resolved Question:

I have a 6 year old peke-a-poo, a 2 year old peke-a-poo and a 10 year old standard poodle. The peke-a-poos are male, the standard is female. I also have a male cat. Toby, the 6 year old peke-a-poo has developed some problematic behavior towards the 2 year old.
When the younger dog (Pascal) came to us, he and Toby played together a great deal. Once Pascal got a bit older, he started playing more with the Standard (Davita). For the past year or so though, Toby will at times and for no good reason, attack Pascal. They are fairly loud and aggressive fights. We have gotten bitten once or twice attempting to separate them. Davita has functioned for us as the referee and usually stops them quickly on her own, but recently she has been ill and not feeling up to it.
Often, these fights are food related, which I understand. We "treat" separately now so as to avoid these kinds of scenes. But Toby sometimes appears to just "wake up on the wrong side of the bed" and go after Pascal. I can sometimes see it before it starts, because he fixates on him and if I can re-focus him, it can be avoided.
My hope is that you can give me a suggestion for a) how to stop the behavior altogether or b) figure out why it happens and adjust our routine to avoid it happening as often. Thanks
Marguerite
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 1 year ago.

Hi JaCustomer,

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My name is XXXXX XXXXX I have professionally worked with dogs for over 17 years in both the health and behavioral fields. It will be my pleasure to work with you on this issue.

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Dogs are pack animals and there is a top male dog and top female dog. In same sex dogs, the top dog is usually the one who is the most strong willed and dominant dog. Usually when a new dog is brought into a household, the current same sex dog is the top dog. When the new same sex dog realizes it is there to stay or matures into an adult dog, that is when problems will start. Younger dogs when they mature sometimes feel that they need to test the alpha dog to see if they can take over as the boss dog. They do not always initiate fights but more often start displaying behavior that challenges the lead dog in a non aggressive way.

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That behavior could be a simple as going out a door first, or pushing through to get your attention first or even laying where the other dog prefers to lay. The younger dog might even grab a treat meant for the older dog. These behaviors would be challenging the lead dog's place and cause the alpha dog to reprimand the younger dog.

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In other cases, the older dog may just want to be sure that the younger dog does not try and take over the top position and thus puts the younger dog in place more often than needed. This does cause the dogs to fight more often and they can get quite nasty. There are some ways to help stop this behavior. The easiest way is to become the leader yourself and gain total control over your dogs.

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To accomplish this, I recommend obedience training and/or daily practice if the dogs have obedience training already. This way you are better able to stop the dogs behavior when you notice an altercation starting. You have indicated that this refocusing seems to work, so if you can order the dogs to obey a command instead, it may stop the fight easier.

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Additionally, I would not allow dogs on the furniture as this can make them think they are equal to the humans. Make them obey a command before letting them on furniture if you absolutely want them up on the couches or beds.

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You also want to work with them specifically on the behavior. Both dogs should be leashed and if one dog even looks at the other dog, a correction should be done. Any sign of aggression including a prolonged look, hair raised on the shoulders, a growl or even a stiff legged walk, should be corrected. A correction is a quick tug of the leash and a firm low toned "NO". Once you have done this couple of times, you should notice the dogs ignoring each other. When that happens, you will want to reward them for the desired behavior. Again, use tasty treats like the hot dog slices. This teaches the dogs that you WILL not tolerate fighting in YOUR pack.

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I would start making your dogs work via the Nothing in life is free program (NILF). as well It is outlined below.

http://www.pets.ca/articles/article-dog_nilf.htm

You will also want to keep a leash on the females at all times initially to grab if they should disobey. Dogs like knowing what is expected of them and they love the little paper thin slices of hotdogs that I use for treats while training. Give this a try and see how it works for you.

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In addition, if the situation is not improving using the techniques on the previous website, you may have to consult a professional behaviorist. You can usually find a behaviorist by asking your Vet for a recommendation or you may be able to find one using the following site.

http://www.apdt.com

Living in a household with multiple dogs can be an issue. You may eventually need to keep the two separate to avoid these problems. You can read about this issue in females here:

http://www.canismajor.com/dog/feisty.html

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I hope this information is helpful to you and you are satisfied with my response. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have .

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If you have questions in the future that you wish me to answer, you may click here and bookmark the page or make it a favorite. It is best to put my name "JANE" in the question as well. Please recommend me to your friends and family members if they have any problems with their dog as well. I would truly appreciate it.

Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 16877
Experience: Dog breeder/Trainer and Behaviorist 16+ years
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