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Sally G.
Sally G., Dog Training Consultant
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 9567
Experience:  Service/assistance dog training/ behavior /obedience/Therapy dog Evaluator/AKC Evaluator
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I have 2 akitas, male and female; the former is more recent.

Customer Question

I have 2 akitas, male and female; the former is more recent. Both are neutered. I have a large backyard and have had to separate the two, because of unprovoked attacks that the female has initiated against the male. There are ferocious fence fights now that seem to be instigated as soon as I set foot in the backyard.
The ideal situation would be to have them both without a barrier between them in the backyard (it is spacious enough to comfortably accommodate them), but I can't figure out how to do it.
If I go for a walk with them it causes a lot of fighting behavior upon my return and I'm not strong (nor daring) enough to control both simultaneously on a walk.
Any advice?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year 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/ as well as an assistance/service dog trainer, specializing in behavior. It will be my pleasure to help you today.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
your input is?
Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.

First let me apologize as for some reason the site did not properly lock for me to give an answer right away. I am not sure what happened but I did report it to the moderators as a site issue that needs to be looked at.

Can you please tell me, how are the dogs with sharing food, toys, bones, and that type of stuff?

Are they both allowed on furniture or do they have their individual beds. If they are individual beds do they ever interchange where they may sleep on the other dog's bed?

Do you find they only fight when you are around and does it happen inside as well as out?

Do you train them daily?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
They are ALWAYS separated; I don't dare have them in the same shared area due to the fence fighting.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
My female goes after my male when I enter the yard. He is confined in the small pen in the back of the yard while she is in the larger yard that communicates with the back door.
Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you. It is hard to tell then why they are fighting.Generally dogs that fight have some type of possession aggression, where they value something so much they do not want the other dog to get near it. This can be anything from food, humans or space.

The only way to stop this is to work daily with the female first since she may be more of the aggressor, and I would work in short sessions but do it throughout the day. This shows you as a consistent leader in what you expect. I also suggest both be on the learn to earn program so that they are both put on an even playing field and so your level is raised to the top.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
They do not come in the house. I have a declawed cat who would not last a minute if either were allowed indoors.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
What is a learn to earn program?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
They both know basic commands of sit, stay, down (Bella more than Jack)
Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.

Since they do not come indoors it is going to be harder to implement and what I would suggest is that they have their individual pens with something to block their view from each other.

the learn to earn I will put below. But they need training in command leave it stay down, and recall.

This is not something that can be done overnight. IT took me nearly 7 months of constant work with a new dog in the home to have him stop attacking my other dogs

Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.

Reactions to Actions or Learn to Earn

Copyright Sally G

In some instances with training depending on how well the dog responds to the above training you may also want to incorporate a type of ‘learn to earn’ training as well.

What learn to earn training means is that you are taking charge of their entire life’s wants and needs. No more free food is put down in front of them. Keep the daily dose of food in a closed tin in the area where the dog is fed, call the dog to you and ask him to sit. When he sits, he gets a handful of food. Do this throughout the day using any command that the dog knows and the dog must obey that command in order to get some food.

You will also take control of when the dogs can play. The toys should have been put away before this but if they were not, put all toys away, then when you are ready to play take out a toy and play with the dog, when you decide play is over put the toy away again.

Petting does not come to them just because they nudge you, you decide when this takes place, which means you would call them to you and pet them at your discretion and ask that a command be obeyed . If they nudge to be petted, you ignore that, but you can give the dog a command at any time to obey and reward that behavior with petting. Again you always want to reinforce a behavior you have asked for. So even though you know the dog has nudged you to be petted, you don’t have to totally ignore the dog, in fact this is the perfect opportunity to turn that nudge into a trick or command and praise and reward the dog for that.

Anything your dog takes for granted such as you opening the door to let it out, putting on a leash to go for a walk, allowing it to walk though a door before you, etc. these are all privileges to a dog that come naturally due to the human’s repetitive actions over time but many humans don’t realize this.

So before you go through that door put the dog in a sit or wait and you walk through first then invite the dog to walk through. Again this should be rewarded with praise. Before you put the leash on you ask for a sit stay. Furniture is a no, no for dogs that have aggressive tendencies because it puts them in a higher charge over the others in the home, even children.

Dogs should not just be allowed on the couch without specific invitation if at all. This need to be close and cuddle is more a human thing than a dog thing. Dogs do like to be close to the one they love and respect, but sitting on the floor next to that person will be enough to please them.

This is not to say that no dog should ever be allowed on a couch, it is perfectly fine if you have stable easy going dogs. It is when there are problem dogs in the home that furniture should be off limits to all dogs.

As mentioned above, in most cases dogs have developed habits that some owners allowed and gave in to over time but did not realize it. What might be helpful to the owner is to sit and make a list of all the good things your dog gets for free by an action that you have let the dog do for years. This will help you to turn those free behaviors into commands or tricks that can earn a reward.

When the dog tries that action to get the desired reaction from you, stop and think, did I call the dog over to be petted? Did I tell the dog it is time to go out and that is why he brings the leash? Did I say let’s play so that is why he dropped the ball in my lap? All of those actions got the dog reactions in the past usually in a positive beneficial way to the dog. So now it is time to turn that all around.

Keep in mind that dogs do what works for them and if it stops working they usually stop doing it. So when they growl or snap at you when you reach for that bone, it usually works as the human won't take it. I would never suggest to take anything from a growling dog, merely explaining that this works for the dog so therefore they do it. Using the learn to earn program does not really give them a chance to become possessive.

Dogs that are well balanced within a group to begin with do not really need any of the above things to change; it is your right to spoil a well rounded dog! It is only homes with dogs in it that have social limitations around other dogs that should need the above direction.

Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.

I suggest clicker training and using their food as the reward as this works with the learn to earn program very well.

From that training you would move to behavior adjustment training where you set them up to succeed each time they see each other without a reaction. Below are links to get you started with the clicker

Clicker training/positive method training/ print off

video’s to see how clicker training is done, scroll down to videos

Training method BAT

Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.

The more we reward the good behavior the morel likely it is to emerge. However with these two already hating each other I can't lie it is going to take a lot of work. You may want to look into reactive rover classes, some SPCA's give these and sign up both dogs to work together.

Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.

Or another option is to bring in a trainer who can view what is going on between the two dogs , once the problem is identified it may be easier to solve. I would not use a trainer that uses rough methods as this can make an already aggressive dog worse.

Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.

Here are lists of trainers

clicker trainers

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Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.

Is this all understandable to you?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
but there is no trainer from KPA available in my area.
Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.

Then you will need to work with them daily and any rules you set forth for them has to be followed by the rest of the family. If one person deviates from what you are doing this confuses the dog and things will go back to the way they were as they no longer see the humans as consistent leaders.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Found Sarah Wharton!!
Great, I'll call her.
Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.

Sounds like your best bet and she may be able to recommend someone to you as well if she cannot do it. Word of mouth is the best way to go

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.

I hope this has been helpful to you and your experience here was a pleasant one. Please don't forget to rate the service before you leave so the company compensates me for my time