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Usually Placid Dog Being Aggressive

Discussion in 'Dog Behaviour and Training' started by BeeJayCee, May 26, 2021.

  1. BeeJayCee

    BeeJayCee New Member Registered

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    Please help!

    We have a six year old Cockapoo girl who is the most gentle dog ever, she’s very well socialised and plays well with other dogs. She stays with a dog sitter when we go away and there are always other dogs there too - no problem. My girl is submissive and always greets other dogs with a submissive stance.

    My son has a nine month old Cockerdor girl and because they live in a different part of the country & Covid we have not had a chance to meet before.

    This week they are staying with us and it has been a nightmare from the beginning

    My son’s dog is larger than mine and is able to just take toys out her mouth, my dog can’t do anything about it and just has to let it happen. I don’t suppose it’s making her very happy. I have tried to stop it but it happens too quickly.
    My son’s dog is trying to be friends with my dog, apart from toy snatching, by using the play stance and the submissive low stance but my girl is having none of it. She is snarling and trying to attack every time the younger dog comes near her, especially when we are in the house.

    I think I should remove my dog as soon as she is showing aggression and bring her back to the room when she is calm but my husband thinks I shouldn’t & that I am forcing her to demur to a stranger on her territory.

    I just don’t know what to do - please help!
     
  2. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    Actually, I think you should move her (or better still, the other dog) before that. Look at it through her eyes - she is a mature lady whose home has been invaded by an obnoxious teenager who is taking her stuff and making a proper nuisance of herself. She shouldn't need to retaliate, you should step in before that happens.

    Edited to add - you don't want this to escalate. There is a saying, boys fight for breeding rights but girls fight for breathing rights. Girls bear grudges, don't let it get that far.
     
  3. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    I agree with JoanneF - make sure she has a 'safe place' where the other dog can't disturb her, and as this is her home, I would restrict where your son's dog can go rather than where she can go as far as possible. Your aim is to protect her from the newcomer, and if she knows you will protect her, she's more likely to tolerate him when he's not pestering her.
     
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  4. Hemlock

    Hemlock Well-Known Member Registered

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    Also see to it that there are no toys available for the duration of the visit, and feed them in separate rooms. Bitch fights can be horrific, and they bear a lifetime grudge.

    Pre-empt, manage, foresee, prevent. Well done for identifying the problem.
     
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  5. BeeJayCee

    BeeJayCee New Member Registered

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    Thank you all for such great advice.

    My son has been keeping his dog on a lead in the house, apart from when they are in the bedroom but Peggy is snarling when Indy even comes close. I didn’t want Peggy to think it’s now acceptable behaviour to be aggressive to another dog in our house.
    I feel like this could become a permanent problem if it’s not sorted on this visit.

    I saw some advice that said if the dogs see the alpha in the house, which I presume the animals think is my husband but in reality is me ;-), is friendly and accepting of the new dog then the older dog should fall into line. We have done everything we can think of to make that happen but Peggy isn’t having any of it.
    Perhaps I will just have to accept it.
     
  6. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    OK, first protecting your stuff, or objecting to strangers taking it, is not aggression - it's a perfectly natural behaviour and in the wild an animal's survival depends on it. Now, if you don't stop it, it could result in aggression, but the instinct to protect is normal.

    As @Hemlock said, you are going to have to be hyper alert for flashpoints and food, toys, comfy places or even a sunny spot on the floor could become a resource worth fighting over.

    And it certainly could become a problem, but stopping your dog from telling the other she is unhappy isn't the way to fix it - then you will have a frustrated dog who is not allowed to express herself.

    Step in, and prevent it before it happens. And that brings me to my second point.

    Leadership has become a word that is badly understood in dog training.

    The alpha, dominance, pack leadership theory has been thoroughly disproven and widely discredited, even by the person who developed it. It was based on flawed conclusions drawn from poorly observed evidence. The wolf pack was not a real pack, it was a group of individuals thrown together and the situation (captivity rather than wild) skewed the data as their behaviour was not natural. And dogs are not wolves anyway, any more than we are chimpanzees - in both cases there was a shared ancestor but the species evolved in different directions. That's why we have humans AND apes, wolves AND dogs.


    This article explains it quite well. Debunking the "Alpha Dog" Theory - Whole Dog Journal

    If you think about leadership in your own life, the leaders (teachers , co-workers) that you respect earn that respect and inspire followership, they don't command or force it through wielding power 'just because they can'. So, be that kind of leader - one that your dog knows she can look to for support, to fix the problems so she doesn't have to.
     
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  7. Rinkydinkydo

    Rinkydinkydo Well-Known Member Registered

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    I've had this problem once with two bitches, one was my border terrier, the other my girlfriends border collie. All of the other dogs were fine apart from these two.
    On meeting the border collie flew at my border and had a go at her. Now my border had never had any problems meeting other bitches,she'd met many in the past. Any how she wandered off and laid down with the other dogs, the collie laid on her bed with her eyes firmly fixed on my border. After 15 mins or so my girl got up and started wandering over towards the collie,again the collie flew at her and had a go. This time my border stood her ground and went on the offensive and pushed the collie back. As quickly as it started it was over with, the collie laid down on her bed. My border stood on the spot with her eyes now firmly fixed on the collie, after a minute she just walked up and laid down on the collies bed. 5 minutes later they were both grooming each other and from that moment onwards they were as thick as thieves together for years to come,One happy gang of 7 dogs.
    I'm not saying this approach will work with your dogs, I'll also add that I was ready to step in at anytime if it got out of hand. Dogs can sort things out between themselves.
    For the alfa bit I will be controversial and say I do belive that I does exist.
     
  8. Inka

    Inka Active Member Registered

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    The new dog who is not a resident dog is in your dogs eyes invading her home, taking her toys which is why you never bring any new dog straight into the resident dogs territory, you get them both on a lead and take them for a walk, that allows them to 'get to know' who they are without having to be a close quarters and builds acceptance before taking them both into your dogs territory together where it is much more likely to be accepted, it also depletes excess energy from the excitment which if not used up positively can be used negatively( as it is)..... however pick up all and any toys as these will be a contensive issue and make your dog feel like it needs to possession guard ( and you do not want that to start) and clip both dogs on a lead and let it trail so you can quickly and without fuss/noise step on a lead and gain control of one or the other dog and once in control you can remove one or at least be in control.

    The visiting dog is 9 months old so at maturing age and like human teenagers will push the boundaries, as gentle as your dog is it will not appreciate that, your son needs to step up and control his dog and get her out lead walking to focus her as well as deplete the energy she is using..
    Your dog is NOT being 'aggressive' it is responding to a situation she feels she is not able to control, so 'reactive' which is very different to aggressive. Personally I would not be removing her to another room, I would be removing the visiting dog, so your dog knows you are taking control and stopping this behaviour and not isolating her.
     
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  9. BeeJayCee

    BeeJayCee New Member Registered

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    Thanks again to you all - after reading all the advice and acting on it I feel we made some progress yesterday! Thanks to Rinkydinkydo, I found a lot of solace and hope in your reply and think we may be well on the way to friendship between the girls.
    This pic was from last night & I can’t tell you how happy we all were with the two dogs snuggling on a sofa with my husband. A97AC06D-367E-42C9-BF49-3BDB4DE9AF5A.jpeg
     

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  10. Inka

    Inka Active Member Registered

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    Thats great!

    I completely agree with you, some terminology triggers some people simply as it means different things to different people and some people add negative associations to words, however 'resident dog' is no different than saying 'alpha' in this case they mean the same thing and there is nothing negative about it.... a human example would be parents/children and a visiting child, the resident parent/s dictate behaviour of the children/visiting child otherwise there will/can be injuries, scabbling if the children are allowed to run the show.
     
  11. CoCo2014

    CoCo2014 Member Registered

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    Who ever gave you advice about "Alphas" existing in dog"packs"is sadly misleading you.

    The Alpha theory was based on studies done by Prof Dave Mech & others of captive wolf groups put together in zoos/safari parks as adults & behaviours studies. The behaviours in these groups are totally unrelated to real wolf packs living free, which consist of an unrelated breeding pair & their direct offspring from their annual litter, depending on how long the pack exists there may be several annual litters in the pack, the offspring tend to leave when fully mature to seek & form their own pack if there is sufficient food available.
    However domestic dogs are 10,000s of years devolved from their common ancestors & many of the wolf traits are no longer evident in our dogs.
    Dogs can happily live alone in a human household, they don't need other dogs to live fulfilling lives. They do not require an "Alpha" animal to be their "Pack" leader, they are aware that humans are not dogs.

    What dogs do need is to be taught boundaries, both by humans & other dogs. Bitches are natural teachers of younger dogs, your bitch's "snarling" is her telling the younger one to back off & stop the behaviour, you should remove the younger dog either to another room behind a baby gate or similar & ignored until it has calmed down. I had a GSD bitch who could stop other dogs misbehaving simply by looking in their direction, she had a very deep rumbling growl, if any dog over 6 months dare to invade her space. She never touched any dog, it was just her attitude. The silly thing is she would never tell off any of the kittens or cats we had, even when they were hanging off her ears, tail etc

    You may want to put a houseline on the younger one to assist with removing her when her behaviour is too much for your bitch.

    It might even be worth doing a bit of trick training with both dogs so you can control their focus
     
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  12. JacksDad

    JacksDad Active Member Registered

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    This works....until it it doesn't. you never want to advise this approach because you never know when that "1 out 10" (made up numbers to illustrate a point) times rolls around. Which results at best in a very expensive trip to the vet, and possibly now a fearful dog that will require 100's of dollars/pounds of training to resolve, or at worst a dead dog.

    This is also the type of advice that would put a professional trainer out of business once sued.

    The "alpha thing" is actually and truly a myth. This is not to say dogs do not work out hierarchies, they can and do. BUT the "alpha model/concept" is still a myth because it is based on inaccurate information and disproven ideas.

    The reality of social hierarchies is more simple and complex and nuanced all at the same time.

    With science, the simplest answer is almost always the right one. When in doubt, it is the most solid assumption to work from. The simplest answer/explanation... The terrier had more confidence, stood it's ground and the border collie decided they were not up to following through. no more, no less.

    Actual and factual dominance theory tells us that in another situation, or after some absence from each other, the BC might not back down to the terrier. Hierarchies are fluid, nuanced, and can and do change. Hierarchies also take time and data collection to work out, and new variables can and do changes the interpretation of the data.

    I would strongly urge sticking to the advice that suggests proactively preventing the aggression (making sure there isn't toys, food etc laying around) from being triggered. Keep the dogs separate etc. SAFETY FIRST.

    I would also strong urge to not let the dogs "work it out". This can and does end badly. while yes dogs are capable of working things out, their solution may not be our solution and the ability to escape is critical. Something backyards, living rooms, leashes etc do not allow for.

    Since we are talking someone's beloved pet, we should never suggest something as risky as "let the dogs work it out".

    If this is a one off visit, then manage the situation by keeping the dogs separate. If it is anticipated that future visits would happen regularly, then preventing additional history of aggression between the two dogs is key to even having a chance at the dogs being able to be safely in the same space.

    Different things to different people is a serious and core problem in the dog world. When this is the case, then the idea/concept/label etc has no value in real world application. If we have to spend post and after post figuring out what "alpha" means to you, then someone else, then yet another person...we are wasting time and clearly have nothing of value. When this is the case, we likely are working not with an established principle backed by data through experiments or observational data, but a fictitious narrative.
     
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  13. Rinkydinkydo

    Rinkydinkydo Well-Known Member Registered

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    I was replying to the OP with my own similar experience and what happened. I did point out that I was ready to step in at anytime and that this kind of approach may not work with her dogs.

    You will be pleased to know that this will be my post on here. May I make a suggestion to the owner of the site. If this site has becoming one school of thought only,then just appoint one person to reply to all new posts.

    Admin could you delete my account in full please. There doesn't seem to be a way of doing this in the settings.
     
  14. JacksDad

    JacksDad Active Member Registered

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    I had a somewhat similar experience with my dog Jack. doesn't mean I try and create advice out of it or suggest people try and replicate it. way to much can go wrong.

    Dogs are amazing in how close they come to a fight to the death...but never go there. Sometimes, "weird" things come out of incidents of aggression, such as the dogs becoming genuine buddies, and the formerly aggressive dog now seeks out the dog they had been trying to attack for safety. But these "one offs" are not something that is appropriate to try and recreate or advise a solution from. to do so is inherently dangerous.

    As for stepping in... dogs are FAST, by the time our brain registers "step in" and our body reacts, if the dogs are not posturing and pulling punches, the damage will be done before we can "step in".

    Advising a course of action for aggression cases must always start with safety, and a plan that has the least risk of the dog having to resort to aggression.
     
  15. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    @Rinkydinkydo, there isn't a 'party line' on this forum, but people do express their differences in opinion, and most people are moving away from the 'old school' approach based on science and research.

    As a forum, though, we do have to watch out for any advice that could cause harm. So much about managing dogs is reading them, and an experienced owner with dogs they know well can read a situation very carefully and know when things are getting to look dodgy. But for a less experienced owner, 'letting the dogs work it out' can go very badly. As well as the risk of sudden aggression, some dogs are natural bullies who get a kick out of intimidating and scaring other dogs - it happened to Jasper, and he went on to do it to others if I didn't step in quickly.

    I do hope you'll stick around - everyone is entitled to their views, even if they are minority views (on this forum), but of course we have to watch out for advice that has the potential for harm, even if it worked for the person suggesting it.
     
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  16. Flobo

    Flobo Well-Known Member Registered Partner

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    Can I just add my 2 pence worth, I didn't read anything in @Rinkydinkydo post that suggested he was offering advice or suggesting the op did as he did.. was he not just relaying an experience he had?...
     
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  17. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    And therein lies a problem with forums - different people interpret different posts in different ways, and something that would be quickly sorted by a 'No, what I meant was...' or 'Let's just have another pint' down the pub can fester a bit longer :(
     
  18. JacksDad

    JacksDad Active Member Registered

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    It does not matter how a post was or was not intended. This is a forum where people ask for help, we have to assume ANYTHING posted in reply to a plea for help could/will be taken as advice. We should also never loose sight that anything offered is something that could affect another living being. A dog, the people involved, babies, other animals involved etc. So replies should made as careful as possible. Particularly when aggression is involved.
     

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