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Sally G.
Sally G., Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 9518
Experience:  Service /assistance dog trainer,Therapy dog evaluator and trainer, AKC evaluator, pet first aide and member of PAS Animal Response Team.
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I have three lab mixes, two are passive as can be and the oldest,

Customer Question

I have three lab mixes, two are passive as can be and the oldest, 10, 7, but the newest who is 5 about once a month will fly off the handle and target one of the dogs and act like she is attacking about something in a dominant way, but not biting, just sounds like it, it could be over the slightest thing like someone walking by the fence, not food aggression but just seems like dominance. I have taken her to the vet who suggests prozac and a muzzle, I said I would try it for a month to see if it helps, but since this happens only about once a month I am no convinced that this is the correct solution, any suggestions?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Sally G. replied 2 years ago.
Hello and welcome. My name is ***** ***** I have been in the dog field for 25 years. I am a Therapy Dog & AKC Evaluator/trainer/ specializing in behavior. It will be my pleasure to help you today.
Have you had a full thyroid test?
You mentioned a fence, does this happen mostly by a fence?
Does it happen when they are in a cramped area also?
Are all three dogs female?
How is she with bones and toys?
When they fight is it just noise?
Are you always home when it happens?
Will she use a crate?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
No I have not had her thyroid tested. This behavior could happen anywhere in the house or out, we have a large house and yard so space is not a problem. The two older dogs are both males, all fixed and have excellent behavior. She will steal toys from both dogs just so we will play with her or they will play with her. The fighting is very loud and aggressive sounding but she seems to just put her mouth on the side of their neck and bear teeth and make biting motions without making actual teeth contact, their fur is always very wet where she puts her mouth of course. This will begin with the raising of her fur as she is getting very excited about either someone walking by, some noise, or something else that we don't see. It is odd that this does not happen during meal times as they are all fed in close proximity of each other, they all have a snack together and eat bones together. If she decides she does not want to eat her bone at that time she will growl if someone comes close but a low growl but nothing else. This seems to happen once a month, I kind of think that if she does not get enough exercise that she has to use her energy, she is very energetic, very good shape, and loves to run in the yard.
Expert:  Sally G. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for that information. I asked about the thyroid because labs are prone to thyroid problems and if this hormone is off even a little bit, you can start to see aggressive tendencies. I am surprised your Vet did not mention this.
Because she growls a little bit if another dog goes by her bone does not mean she is not possessive aggressive, it may not be a severe problem but seemingly a problem none the less. As far as food aggression and them all eating in the same area, that can be something different, it all depends on what the dog sees as a value to it. She may not view food as valuable as something else because you offer it nightly and the other dogs are also busy eating.
When it comes to people walking down the street and you have a group of dogs behind the fence, then they get what we call fence aggression. Since they cannot get to the person walking down the street to see if it is friend or foe, they turn on themselves. You will see the ones that run up and down the fence are the ones that spat the most.
Though we don't think much about what is happening and its importance, the dog does. So if it is important enough to the dog that is when they act on it.
I don't think prozac is the answer as one of the side effects is aggression. If it were a problem everyday I would say try it, but be watchful.
Females usually take the dominant role and the fact that she is spatting and going over the neck is a dominant role, however it does not mean she will be totally out of control. She is letting the others know she is not liking what is happening.
If you were seeing full out fighting with wounds and blood I would be more concerned.
If you are home at the time she acts up I would get a firm leave it command on her so you can stop it with voice command.
I might do some daily training with her in obedience and this is not so much to teach her how to sit or stay as I am sure she knows commands, but it is to have her see you as being a consistent leader. This is more likely to have her listen to your leave it command and recall command when she is over one of the other dogs.
When you run a multiple dog household it is very important that the dogs see you as a consistent leader in what you expect from them. This is not to say you are a pack leader, a human is never seen as another dog, but it will paint you as someone who means what they say and expects each dog to obey on the first command you give.
I would do clicker training, positive method as you become the holder of good things and valuable things as far as reward for listening, which also elevates your in the home status.
If you are not familiar with the leave it command and clicker training I have included a link to take you through this.
Training should be done in short sessions, like 10 minutes, but try to fit in as many as you can in a day and for some people that is only two sessions.
The more you elevate your status in the home , the more of an even playing field you create for the dogs.
You may also want to talk to your vet about melatonin use, this increases the serotonin in the brain which is helpful. I will direct you to a link for that as well.
Clicker training/positive method training/ print off
video’s to see how clicker training is done, scroll down to videos
melatonin: found in the vitamin aisle of a drug store

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