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  1. #1

    Older family dog aggressive to new pup

    We have an existing family pet Jack Russell crossed with Dachshund male. He is roughly 3 years old and has a rather dominant personality (Named George). He tends to be rather aggressive to people he does not know and even us as owners on occasion. We love him a lot and spoil him often.
    We have recently introduced a new female puppy Dachshund about 6 weeks old into the household (Called Zoey) and have been having problems with George accepting her. He continues to show aggressive behaviour toward her and snaps at her when he has a chance. We have placed a gate between them in the house so that they can socialize and get to know each other.
    We recently had a dog trainer over to our house to assess the problem with the aggression George shows toward Zoey . The trainer advised us that the two would never be able to get along with each other as George is far to territorial and it would be better to get rid of the pup.
    My question is ... is what she says true... what will be the best action. Is there really no way that George and Zoey can learn to get along. Would it be better to let the pup go. We would hate to loose her. Is there anything we could do to get George more friendly toward the pup

  2. #2
    I'm no dog trainer, but I have grown up with dogs my entire life.

    The main thing in your post that jumps out at me is:

    " He tends to be rather aggressive to people he does not know and even us as owners on occasion. We love him a lot and spoil him often. "

    Reguardless of how much you love a dog, aggression to people...most especially the people who own him should NOT EVER be tolerated. No exceptions. The dogs I own tend to be up to 200 lbs and if I was to let one of them behave in such a manner it could be detrimental to people...even though your dog isn't this size this sort of behaviour needs to be corrected ASAP.

    This dog seems to not have any concept of authority and is very much used to bullying his way around in any situation he chooses.

    Personally I would reccomend that you incorporate NILF with him and possibly take him to classes to work on his behaviour and socialization skills.

    As far as what the trainer who came to visit said...I can't comment, though personally I would have a second opinion from a different trainer before I thought of getting rid of the puppy. IMO the trainer didn't seem to be assesing the issue at hand....getting rid of the puppy doesn't fix the issue, it pushes it aside. Unless you plan to never own another dog until George passes on....

    As a matter of personal opinion I think if you got the bigger issues with him worked out and had him socialized properly there might not be such an issue with having another dog in the house.

    Granted, some dogs do not do well with other dogs and this could be a situation where he should remain an only dog...I'm not there to see these things personally so I can't say whether or not this is true.

    My Weimaraner was VERY dog aggressive when we adopted him from the shelter. We incorporated a strict NILF policy at home and worked with a trainer for several weeks and with time and proper socialization he came around and is wonderful. I can meet and greet any strange dog, be it here at home or in public with no issues from there is hope for y'all.

    Edited because I can't spell or type today :)
    "Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole." --Roger Caras

  3. #3
    Thank you very much for the speedy reply. George is indeed bossy yes. What you have said makes a lot of sense. We are going to address the real issue then. The fact that his behavior towards people is not correct. We will look into training him and getting him to be more social. We hope this this will help him in accepting a new member to the family.

  4. #4
    I completely agree with Country in thinking you really need to address George's aggression problems.

    I wouldn't panic or get all freaked out that training him will cost a fortune. In fact, it's highly possible you could train him properly at home. I highly recommend going to training classes (where he'll be around other dogs and almost "forced" to get along) but if you can't do that I suggest looking for training video's and working with him at home.

    As spoiled as he may be, it almost sounds like he is the alpha of the family. I don't have a big issue with alpha's among the "pack" (more than one dog) but there must always be a human alpha in the home. My big female is the alpha in the yard--she is not aggressive (but she will step in and break up a fight between any of them). But when I'm around (in the yard or all in the house), she knows that I'M the alpha and it's now MY job to break up any fights. She may not like what I give her to eat or may not like where I make her sleep or a new pet that I bring into the home. But she will respect me and she will respect what's mine. And she'll do it because I'M the alpha in this pack and I make the rules. I still spoil the crap out of her and she gets her way quite often. But there's still that understanding about who stands where on the food chain, so to speak. Does that make sense?

    Your goal should be to teach George that no way, under any circumstance, should he bite the hand that feeds him.

  5. #5
    On the issue with training classes. In my area during the summer months the city actually sponsors and "Responsible Pet Owner" thing and training classes are offered at a cheaper rate. Last year I believe they were about $3.00 per class and you could come and go as you please. Try digging through your yellow pages and when you talk to trainers tell them your concern is addressing his aggression issues and working on socializing him.

    Either way, I seriously doubt he's a bad dog..he just needs a lil' tweeking to make him a bit more manageable. :) I'm also sure that once you get him settled out a bit he might actually enjoy another canine around to play with :)

    Here is a great article I thought you might be interested in-

    "NILF - Nothing in Life is Free training might help.
    Undesirable behavior can be caused by many things, including
    undetected illness. No behavior modification program should begin
    without first taking the dog to a veterinarian for a complete
    physical examination. While you're there, give your vet a printed
    copy of this page and ask if it would be an appropriate technique
    for you to try. The NILIF program is an accepted standard in dog
    training/behavior but it is not, and is not intended to be, a
    substitute for an in-person, professional evaluation of your dog's
    behavior. This technique is intended for dogs in good health and of
    sound mind and stable temperament.


    The NILIF program is remarkable because it's effective for such a
    wide variety of problems. A shy, timid dog becomes more relaxed
    knowing that he has nothing to worry about, his owner is in charge
    of all things. A dog that's pushing too hard to become "top dog"
    learns that the position is not available and that his life is far
    more enjoyable without the title.

    It is equally successful with dogs that fall anywhere between those
    two extremes. The program is not difficult to put into effect and
    it's not time consuming if the dog already knows a few basic
    obedience commands. I've never seen this technique fail to bring
    about a positive change in behavior, however, the change can be more
    profound in some dogs than others. Most owners use this program in
    conjunction with other behavior modification techniques such as
    coping with fear or treatment for aggression. It is a perfectly
    suitable technique for the dog with no major behavior problems that
    just needs some fine tuning.

    The program begins by eliminating attention on demand. When your dog
    comes to you and nudges your hand, saying "pet me! pet me!" ignore
    him. Don't tell him "no", don't push him away. Simply pretend you
    don't notice him. This has worked for him before, so don't be
    surprised if he tries harder to get your attention. When he figures
    out that this no longer works, he'll stop. In a pack situation, the
    top ranking dogs can demand attention from the lower ranking ones,
    not the other way around. When you give your dog attention on demand
    you're telling him that he has more status in the pack than you do.
    Timid dogs become stressed by having this power and may become
    clingy. They're never sure when you'll be in charge so they can't
    relax. What if something scary happens, like a stranger coming in
    the house? Who will handle that? The timid dog that is demanding of
    attention can be on edge a lot of the time because he has more
    responsibility than he can handle.

    Some dogs see their ability to demand attention as confirmation that
    they are the "alpha", then become difficult to handle when told
    to "sit" or "down" or some other demand is placed on them. It is not
    their leadership status that stresses them out, it's the lack of
    consistency. They may or may not actually be alpha material, but
    having no one in the pack that is clearly the leader is a bigger
    problem than having the dog assume that role full time. Dogs are
    happiest when the pack order is stable. Tension is created by a
    constant fluctuation of pack leadership.

    Your dog already knows that he can demand your attention and he
    knows what works to get that to happen. As of today, it no longer
    works, but he doesn't know that yet. We all try harder at something
    we know works when it stops working. If I gave you a twenty dollar
    bill every time you clapped your hands together, you'd clap a lot.
    But, if I suddenly stopped handing you money, even though you were
    still clapping, you'd clap more and clap louder. You might even get
    closer to me to make sure I was noticing that you were clapping. You
    might even shout at me "Hey! I'm clapping like crazy over here,
    where's the money?". If I didn't respond at all, in any way, you'd
    stop. It wasn't working anymore. That last try -- that loud,
    frequent clapping is an extinction burst. If, however, during that
    extinction burst, I gave you another twenty dollar bill you'd be
    right back in it. It would take a lot longer to get you to stop
    clapping because you just learned that if you try hard enough, it
    will work.

    When your dog learns that the behaviors that used to get him your
    attention don't work any more he's going to try harder and he's
    going to have an extinction burst. If you give him attention during
    that time you will have to work that much harder to get him turned
    around again. Telling him "no" or pushing him away is not the kind
    of attention he's after, but it's still attention. Completely
    ignoring him will work faster and better.

    As the human and as his owner you have control of all things that
    are wonderful in his life. This is the backbone of the NILIF
    program. You control all of the resources. Playing, attention, food,
    walks, going in and out of the door, going for a ride in the car,
    going to the dog park. Anything and everything that your dog wants
    comes from you. If he's been getting most of these things for free
    there is no real reason for him to respect your leadership or your
    ownership of these things. Again, a timid dog is going to be
    stressed by this situation, a pushy dog is going to be difficult to
    handle. Both of them would prefer to have you in charge.

    To implement the NILIF program you simply have to have your dog earn
    his use of your resources. He's hungry? No problem, he simply has to
    sit before his bowl is put down. He wants to play fetch? Great! He
    has to "down" before you throw the ball. Want to go for a walk or a
    ride? He has to sit to get his lead snapped on and has to sit while
    the front door is opened. He has to sit and wait while the car door
    is opened and listen for the word (I use "OK") that means "get into
    the car". When you return he has to wait for the word that
    means "get out of the car" even if the door is wide open. Don't be
    too hard on him. He's already learned that he can make all of these
    decisions on his own. He has a strong history of being in control of
    when he gets these resources. Enforce the new rules, but keep in
    mind that he's only doing what he's been taught to do and he's going
    to need some time to get the hang of it all.

    You're going to have to pay attention to things that you probably
    haven't noticed before. If you feed your dog from your plate do you
    just toss him a green bean? No more. He has to earn it. You don't
    have to use standard obedience commands, any kind of action will do.
    If your dog knows "shake" or "spin around" or "speak" use those
    commands. Does your dog sleep on your bed? Teach him that he has to
    wait for you to say "OK" to get on the bed and he has to get down
    when you say "off". Teach him to go to his bed, or other designated
    spot, on command. When he goes to his spot and lays down tell
    him "stay" and then release him with a treat reward. Having a
    particular spot where he stays is very helpful for when you have
    guests or otherwise need him out of the way for a while. It also
    teaches him that free run of the house is a resource that you
    control. There are probably many things that your dog sees as
    valuable resources that I haven't mentioned here.

    The NILIF program should not be a long, drawn out process. All you
    need to do is enforce a simple command before allowing him access to
    what he wants. Dinner, for example, should be a two or three second
    encounter that consists of nothing more than saying "sit",
    then "good dog!", then putting the bowl down and walking away.

    Now that your dog is no longer calling the shots you will have to
    make an extra effort to provide him with attention and play time.
    Call him to you, have him "sit" and then lavish him with as much
    attention as you want. Have him go get his favorite toy and play as
    long as you both have the energy. The difference is that now you
    will be the one initiating the attention and beginning the play
    time. He's going to depend on you now, a lot more than before, to
    see that he gets what he needs. What he needs most is quality time
    with you. This would be a good time to enroll in a group obedience
    class. If his basic obedience is top notch, see about joining an
    agility class or fly ball team.

    ATTENTION YOU GIVE TO YOUR DOG. The NILIF concept speaks to who
    initiates the attention (you!), not the amount of attention. Go
    ahead and call your dog to you 100 times a day for hugs and kisses!!
    You can demand his attention, he can no longer demand yours!

    Within a day or two your dog will see you in a whole new light and
    will be eager to learn more. Use this time to teach new things, such
    as 'roll over' or learn the specific names of different toys.

    If you have a shy dog, you'll see a more relaxed dog. There is no
    longer any reason to worry about much of anything. He now has
    complete faith in you as his protector and guide. If you have a
    pushy dog he'll be glad that the fight for leadership is over and
    his new role is that of devoted and adored pet.

    ©1999 Deb McKean

    visit Deb's website: K9Deb "

    All in patient and in time I'm sure things will be in order. Good luck and please keep us posted on how things go for you and the furkids.....

    And BTW- Welcome to the board!! :) Great to have you here!
    "Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole." --Roger Caras

  6. #6
    Oh yea- just wanted to add..

    When hunting for a trainer be sure you find one with positive training methods..and discuss the manner in which your dog will be handled. If your uncomfortable with the trainer or unsure about the methods, speak to more people about it, get second opinons...even ask the trainer for referances if you feel it is nessesary.

    Personally, I'm not one to go for the sort of trainer who is all about alpha rolling and things of that nature...though granted I might find it a bit humerous to see a trainer TRY to roll my 200 lb dog... :lol:

    But on a serious note...some trainers who use out dated methods or are overly harsh can actually cause more problems for you rather than actually helping you, and that's the last thing you need.

    Keep in mind when you are talking to them that it is like a job interview. You are hiring them to perform a service for you and they should not bully you around or do things against your wishes.

    I've dealt with a few trainers like this in the past and it is a major headache. Had one idiot of a trainer who wanted to put a shock collar on a rescue pup that had issues with jumping up...what a loon! I also don't favor the shock collar crap either (no offense to those who do).

    I think that if you set a solid foundation, based on positive methods you will have the better out come and you will have a dog that respects you as alpha and will do what you ask because it WANTS to please you..vs a dog who does what you tell it because it is AFRAID of you.

    You might also be interested in doing a google search for Dr. Ian Dunbar.

    I just love this guy and have gone to one of his seminars. He doesn't get the media that that loon "The Dog Whisperer" :roll: does but I think he is 100 times better. Alot of his stuff is based on common sense and patients. He has a few great books out right now that are well worth reading...though I can't remember the titles.....I'll look them up and post when I have a chance. of luck and keep us posted!!! :)
    "Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole." --Roger Caras

  7. #7
    Indeed this is the issue at hand. George is the Alpha dog in the house and in the whole family i would say. Me and my fiance still however have to make a decision whether or not we take a risk in keeping the pup, training george and hoping for the best. We are caught between a decision to give Zoey to a family (still at puppy age) that could give her a better non aggressive environment or taking the step to train George and hope they get along. We are afraid that we make the wrong decision for the pup by keeping her and she might get hurt however we still want to address Georges aggresiveness and see if they might become friends.

  8. #8
    I completely understand where you're coming from.

    You can start immediately with him at home while you search for the proper trainer or decide which road you're going to take (take him to classes, have someone come to him, you do it yourself, etc).

    You say you have a gate up between them right now. You could start out with when he goes to the gate and growls at her, tell him very firmly "no" while you pull him away (but pull him away slowly so you don't scare him). And those times when he's smelling her and not growling or barking at her, PRAISE the crap out of him. Give him treats if you want to (some kind of treat he wouldn't get any other time). Pet him and tell him how much a good boy he is and so on and so forth. Eventually he'll learn that when he growls, you get mad and he gets "yelled" at but when he's nice he gets goodies and more attention and love than he could ever imagine.

    Anyway--just my thoughts on what to do now.

  9. #9
    Thanks Country and DogMan . We are using the gate between them to aid their socialization. It seems to be working a little since George can now at least smell her and see her. We are going to implement what you have mentioned as well as NILF and monitor boh of them the next few days. Thanks for the advise

  10. #10
    I agree with all the advice given here, espically on the training, this dog has far too much control, he needs to know you two are in charge, not him, but I would be weary of keeping the pup, did you get her from a reputable breeder? Simply because in the dog world, it dosen't matter where a puppy comes from, perservation of the spieces is the most important, so a dog in 90% of the cases wont hurt a puppy, its against their nature. However I had a dog who we were told was spayed, five years after we rescued her, turned out she wasen't and gave birth to nine puppies. She would only tolerate them long enough to feed them, other then that she wanted nothing to do with them.

    When we got our current dogs, a year apart, she wanted nothing to do with either pup, and snapped and growled at them if they approched her. She was fine if they left her alone, she would tolerate them, and they learned pretty quick, you don't bother the old girl or you'll get a good snap. So I'm sure you can keep the pup, but you'll always have to watch them. Unless of course he gose out of his way to attack the pup, if so, then I agree with the trainer, he is in no way ready for another dog in his home, is way too agressive, and the pup should be returned to the breeder. But that all depends on the way he attacks the pup.
    The reason dogs are great is they wag their tails, not their tongues.



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