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Help please with ongoing dog family feud

Discussion in 'Dog Behaviour and Training' started by Xinte Lincolnshire, Jul 29, 2018.

  1. Xinte Lincolnshire

    Xinte Lincolnshire New Member Registered

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    Hi, As I posted on the introductions thread, I rescued 2 small breed dogs, 4 years ago ,a toy poodle who was 3 mths, and 2 years ago,a chihuahua who was 4 months old. Having always lived with,trained and rehomed German Shepherds, I do understand, the pack,the hierarchy and dog behaviour, Im now quite stumped as to what to do for the best and hope maybe someone can give some insight.
    My poodle readily accepted the Chi into our household 2 years ago, but in the last 6 months his behaviour has become quite aggressive towards him but only in certain ways.
    If I give the boys a treat, the poodle will not eat his but guard it until the chi comes within 6ft of him, then he will attack him, the chi always responds by immediately flipping onto his back and urinating, which I know to be submissive signals, yet the attack carries on. This scenario also plays out with toys, the front door, the dog flap and the car. The chi is understandably tiptoeing around the poodle in fear and nervousness,walking only around the edges of rooms and clinging to my side. My first instinct when it started was that it was the pack sorting its hierarchy, but now there really is no reason as the Chi always defers and submits readily to the poodle and is not a challenge to him . My poodle is highly intelligent and actually sets up the chi to initiate an attack, such as placing an object on route to the front door, the barking as if someone is at the door, then jumping out on the chi as he passes the object en route to the front door. So far, the attacks have not resulted in any really bad injuries to the Chi, I will always step in and correct the poodle, but the Chi has become very nervous and I really dont like the way he continues to be attacked when its so plain to see, he offers no challenge,doesnt fight back and is now too scared to accept treats or to play with a toy, Ive tried not giving treats at all,putting away the toys, but the poodle will always find something to challenge him on. when it happens, I remove the poodle from the attack and say No! I try to anticipate the attacks and wait until hes just about to do it and tell him no! but it just seems to have made him more determined to do it when my back is turned.
    Both boys are neutered ,healthy and I show no preferential treatment to either, nor do I carry the Chi around or "baby" him,the poodle shows no aggression around any other dogs or people, any ideas as to why hes doing this please?
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2018
  2. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    Has the Chi been checked by a vet in the last 6 months? I am wondering if the poodle senses an illness.

    The only other thing that comes to mind for now is that your poodle is displaying a learned behaviour in the bullying. If that's the case you might have to just keep them permanently separate.
     
  3. Xinte Lincolnshire

    Xinte Lincolnshire New Member Registered

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    Hi Joanne, thank you for your reply, great suggestions but The Chihuahua is checked on a regular basis as when I found him in Spain, his back leg was broken in 4 places and he now has pins and plates in his little leg, however he gets around fine and the vet tells me he has no pain or health issues. I agree it could be learned behavior, but I wonder what reward he is getting by attacking a submissive dog, I assumed they had already sorted their pecking order out long ago and the Chi is not challenging him in any way, I really am stumped! thanks again
     
  4. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    I'd also consider getting the poodle vet checked as anything causing discomfort could lead to unpredictable aggression. Thyroid dysfunction in particular can affect this.

    Attacking a submissive dog can help an insecure dog feel more macho - it can also be self-rewarding in the same way that playground bullies get a kick out of bullying weaker children.

    The whole 'pack theory' of a clear hierarchy in dog groups has pretty much been debunked now - there's an article on it here: Do You Really Need to Be a Pack Leader? Interactions can be much more nuanced and complex than the old theories would suggest. Telling your poodle 'no' when he does this simply won't change his emotions underlying the behaviour so it will continue. A better approach could be to reward him and make lovely things happen whenever he interacts in a way you like or, maybe more importantly, when he doesn't interact at all.

    I think your best course of action would be to find a positive behaviourist, who can carefully observe the interactions between the dogs, and also on how you interact with them. Look for someone registered with COAPE Association of Pet Behaviourists and Trainers (CAPBT), and steer clear of anyone who mentions dominance, 'being alpha' or similar terms.
     
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  5. Xinte Lincolnshire

    Xinte Lincolnshire New Member Registered

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    Hello Judy, thank you for your reply and for the link to the study, very interesting

    My poodle has been checked over recently but not had a blood test for his thyroid, may be worth looking into but if it is perhaps a medical problem, I wonder why he doesn't display this behavior with the numerous dogs he mixes with on a daily basis, not a sniff of aggression with any dogs other than my Chihuahua.

    I think you are right in that he must get some form of satisfaction in "bullying" his housemate and perhaps this is enough reward for him to keep repeating it. Although all the dogs I have owned have always been trained by reward and reinforcement of good behaviour, I do believe there has to come a time when I have to step in during an attack and tell the attacking dog that this behaviour is not acceptable, otherwise how would he know that its not how I require him to behave and would he know, unless I caught him mid lunge towards the Chi and praised him for not going ahead, that he's doing right by not attacking

    However I really appreciate your advice and will look for trainers with the credentials you recommend, thank you
     
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  6. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    I'm not an expert by any means, but a behaviourist recently said to me that a dog doesn't care about what you want, he only cares about what he wants, and the purpose of training is to bring his wants and your wants closer together. So even if telling a dog 'No' stops him on one occasion, it will only affect their future behaviour if they think that not doing it will result in something really good for them, or they are truly afraid of the consequences of doing it. Now, it does seem to me that in some breeds, doing what the owner wants and pleasing their owner is an end in itself (I'm thinking of collies but GSDs may be similar). This behaviourist is a sighthound expert and what she said probably applies more to sighthounds than almost all other dogs - it certainly does to mine.

    Like I say, I'm not an expert and I'm still on my first dog so not saying 'This is what you should do': but it gives a different perspective which might work more for your current dogs than your GSDs. Good luck with working out what works for you:)
     
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  7. Xinte Lincolnshire

    Xinte Lincolnshire New Member Registered

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    Hi Again Judy,
    You are so right regarding GSD's wanting to please their owners, but in my experience, only if they respect and trust that their owner will take charge and make the right decisions for them, otherwise they feel that they have to 'step up' and make the decisions themselves, hence why we see so many of this breed become lost and out of control, which is such a crying shame, as to me they are the most loyal easy to train breed who will work just to please you,and its not so difficult to rehabilitate them once youve "trained" the owners,lol, and as you've probably gathered, they have a special place in my heart.

    These little guys however are a completely different kettle of fish altogether and I have to completely 'unlearn' my GSD training and approach a different way as Ive learnt that in the most they dont respond to pleasing their humans, nor really to treats as they arent particularly food motivated, but they do love the praise, so I will persevere with this in mind

    I understand I'm probably generalising a lot about the small breed of dog and not allowing for the very difficult start in life my two went through before they came to me, I found the poodle in an industrial bin behind a hotel in Portugal, under his dead mother and sister, and the chihuahua had been discarded in a field with his terribly broken leg in Spain, I guess maybe they will never completely trust humans to do whats best for them but I will continue always to try, thanks again Judy
     
  8. merlina

    merlina Well-Known Member Registered

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    Don't give up on their changing- it's taken six years but I think our corgi x now trusts me. Not my husband sadly- just me. I think it was men that hurt him. But they can come round. I ignored him for the first couple of years because he thought attention meant bad stuff. He's still a RG but even that has cooled off...good luck.
     
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  9. Xinte Lincolnshire

    Xinte Lincolnshire New Member Registered

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    Hi Merlina
    Thats lovely to hear your boy now trusts you, its difficult when they have bad starts isnt it, and I'll never give up on my two, I love them dearly.

    They are both just so different to all the GSD's Ive rehabilitated and certainly some of them had been very damaged by humans. I realise I need a completely different approach to my little guys and would really like to learn what it is thats making the poodle behave as he does and whats at the bottom of it. thanks for replying Merlina
     
  10. merlina

    merlina Well-Known Member Registered

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    You're welcome. I've decided after 20 odd years in dog rescue there's one huge motivator for all dogs- anxiety. Whatever we think we're doing, even good to us, they're thinking does this mean I'll be hurt? mean I'll starve? mean they'll leave me alone? mean I'm about to be thrown out of the gang?

    Our Rickey is like a street child I've come to realise.:(
     
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