Now you have isolated your feisty one, spending quality one on one time with each of your dogs, for about a week. Any time your dogs are together, lil miss (or mister) feisty has a collar (or dominant dog collar) on with a drag leash, and you are there to make sure their play remains compatible. There are things to be looking for and tactics you can use to begin laying a foundation to establish (or reestablish) a healthy pup pack. In order to stop aggressive dog behavior in your home you need to pay close attention and always be mindful of the fact that dogs are not people. This may sound silly, but all too often folks treat their pups like children or “besties”. If you want a solid foundation of a sound, healthy pack with well-behaved dogs, your dogs need to see you as their pack leader–not just another push-over.
If you are following the tactics outlined in Step I and considered the full ramifications of pack leadership (ie: Step II), then you are off to a great start! Now let’s get to dealing directly with specific behaviors…
But Ain’t that Cute!
There are many subtle bullying tactics that dogs will use that most often are seen as so cute we never catch what the dog is really up to. Nosing is one of these. Nosing is when the pup uses its nose to push at your hand, leg, arm or simply puts her head in your lap. Yes, I must confess that this is so absolutely adorable most times that it is almost painful (for me) to correct! However, this is a demand to be given affection. In the wild, a pack leader will go about demanding the subservient groom him. This is not always because he needs groomed. Often it is to remind his fellow pack who is in charge.
Got that? As cute as this can be, nosing your person or another dog is a demand. When a dog demands and that order is satisfied, the dog learns he is in control. You become just another pooch in the pack, rather than the pack leader to be respected and heeded. Watch your pup closely and you will catch him doing this with your other dog(s) as well as the humans in your pack. Another thing Hanani (my aggressor) likes to do to Mia is sit on her head when Mia is resting, minding her own business! OMG! It is hysterical! So much so that it is difficult to control myself enough to let Hanani know that this domination of Mia will not be tolerated. But, I must. Mia counts on me to control the pack. Hanani counts on me for direction–so that she can learn appropriate behaviors.
The time you spend one on one time with each dog can afford you opportunities to watch closely and interact with them, learning their specific personalities. For example, Mia does not nose us like Hanani does. She never did. She just sits, looking at us all pathetic until we pet her! Hanani is the demanding gal in our pack. And you can incorporate watching and training into your daily routine.
Every time Hanani starts nosing, I stop what I am doing and tell her “Stop!” When she does, I just continue going about what I was doing. Just now as I sit here typing, she pushed my hand with her nose. I had to delete and retype an entire line or two! She needs to learn to spell better if she thinks she can help me write this blog 😉 Anyway… I keep repeating a firm, but not yelling, “Stop!” each time she noses in. When she does stop, I merely go back to, as in this case, typing.
After a few times, she gets the hint and will do one of two things:
- She will sit politely, looking at me. This is an “ask”. She is trying to say, “Okay! I get it! Look at me now! I am being a good girl!” When she does this I wait a moment and then pet her. That is her “reward” for choosing to ask politely for affection.
- Other times, ignoring her after telling her “Stop!” just makes her bored of me and she will go find something else to do. Usually she grabs a toy to chew on and sits at my feet until the next time she gets overwhelmed with wanting to be the center of attention again, which is where she is presently!
This is only one example but the strategy can be implemented in other areas:
- Make your pup sit and wait when you put food down. Then say “Okay!” to release her to eat.
- Make your pup sit and wait when a door or gate is opened, until you give the release command (“Okay!”).
- You–the pack leader–always, always go through the door or gate first! Your pup needs to sit/wait until you are through.
- Make your pup lay down and wait/stay when someone comes in the house.
- Throw the ball and make your dog wait until you release him to go fetch it. *This is especially effective on “ball-crazy” dogs! And fun for both you and pup, too!
- If you are one to let your dog on the couch, make him sit and wait–the “ask”–before you let him up.
- While you are fixing dinner, have your dog in the kitchen. Purposely drop a morsel and tell him “Leave it!” If he does, give him a treat from your hand. If he eats it (which, the first few times he surely will), remove him from the kitchen.
- Get a new toy for the other dog. When you have them out together (with collar/drag leash on the aggressor), make him lay and watch the other chew on the new goods. Time periods may vary, but you want to make sure your pup can be successful. So start with shorter time periods. Each time he tries to get the new toy from the other dog, tell him “Leave it!” When he obeys, tell him “Good!” and pet him for a short spell. After a while, give the other dog a different toy and take the new one. Let your aggressor sniff, chew and play with the new toy and tell them both what good pups they are.
There are so many, many areas this can be implemented. The point is to make your dog choose to ask instead of just barging around, demanding his way. Have fun and be creative!
Go to Your Room!
Remember hearing that from your parent when you were a kid? That told you that some behavior you chose was not acceptable. You were restricted from participation with the family for a spell. Did you see this as a punishment? Or an opportunity to correct your behavior?
Well, most kids do not reason like that, unless they are taught! Much the same with a pup. Too often folks see putting a dog in a crate for a time out as punishment. That is counter-productive, because a crate and pen are great tools for training. In any of the above scenarios, whenever your aggressor does not bode well (does not respond to your command the first time), he needs to be separated–in his crate or pen–away from the place he wants to be most: With you and the pack. This shows him, after a few times, that his behavior needs to be conducive with the pack rules or he can go by himself. I used to tell my kids, if you want to behave like an idiot you can do that in your room all you want. Or, you can go in there and regroup so as to be a formidable household member when you join us again. Same concept…except I don’t think either of my dogs know what an idiot actually is 😉
Point is, crates, pens, leashes, collars, etc–are all tools for training and controlling your pack. Use them! And in every instance, you can make this fun! When you first embark on these endeavors, start small with short periods of time (“wait”) and lengthen as your pup succeeds. That is important. You want your pup to succeed! So do not be unreasonable. It will only lead to frustration for both you and your pup–likely the entire household–and will eventually just reinforce behaviors you are trying to be rid of!
Key #1: Be reasonable with time periods of wait and expectations. You want to help him grow, not become fearful.
Key #2: EVERYthing, in EVERY instance can be used as a training opportunity.
Key #3: As before, TAKE YOUR TIME and pay close attention!
Key #4: Use the tools you have–crate, pen, collar, voice* (most important), leash, etc–as they are supposed to be.
Key #5: Be creative and have FUN!!
Thanx again so much for hanging out with me today! Please send me a note below and let me know how this is working (or not) for you and your feisty pup!