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Written by
Ed Frawley

Most Popular

01/ How To Housebreak A Puppy or Older Dog

02/ The Problem with All-Positive Training

03/ My Dog is Dog Aggressive

04/ How to Fit a Prong Collar

05/ Introducing a New Dog into a Home with Other Dogs

Pack Behavior in Dogs

Not understanding or not recognizing pack behavior in the family pet is the root problem for many many behavioral problems. Pack behavior is a genetic component to every dog. Pack behavior can be alleviate by weak pet owners, by adding dogs to the family pack, or by moving to a new home.

As a general rule the people who find themselves on this web page need my DVD titled DEALING WITH DOMINANT AND AGRESSIVE DOGS.

EMAILS that demonstrate PACK BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS

The rest of this web page contains emails I have received that reflect problems with pack behavior and the family dog.

I live with my husband and four dogs. I have 2 American Pit Bull Terriers (one male, 2 1/2 yrs and one female 5 1/2 yrs- which is his mother), 1 Jack Russell (female- 4 yrs) and 1 Boxer (Male- 9 yrs). My husband came home Friday evening to the Boxer having been attacked by the Pit Bulls, or at least one of them for sure. Needless to say, they (or one of them) had obviously gotten into a fight with the Boxer and it ended with the Boxer's throat being ripped out and left to bleed to death on the kitchen floor. Now, I do want to stress that I feel that in my opinion NEITHER Pit, to me, was ever dog aggressive before this incident. They have had their own 'tussells', like siblings would have, over a toy, bone, etc., but NEVER to the point where I felt that anyone would get hurt, much less be killed. The female Pit has never shown aggression to the Boxer and only has to the Male Pit when HE has provoked a fight. The male Pit ONLY backs down from the 13 pound Jack Russell, or unless we correct him and have seen that he may have started a 'tussell'. Since the Boxer is now gone, we are struggling with what to do with the Male Pit and possibly the Female Pit. The female Pit was mine before we got married and the Boxer was his dog before. The Male Pit was kept after the female's 2nd litter. Both of the Pits had blood on them and at least one or more scratch mark on them. The female only had one scratch on her chest, which leads me to believe (in my own opinion) that she may have been trying to save the Boxer and fight off the Male Pit. Of course, we will never know what truly happened, we are struggling with what to do with the both of them. They have always been inside dogs and we have left them outside over the weekend. It has been hard to even deal with the situation, as we both loved the Boxer very much, and we love our Pits and Jack, just as much. We are struggling with what to do with the Pits. Can they be trained not to be aggressive with other dogs? Do you recommend putting them to sleep or finding homes where they are the only dog in the household? I can't have this happen again. I am torn because I love(d) them all and want to do what is best for them all. Please let me know your opinion. I don't mind if you're blunt. :-) Thanks so much.


I have two dogs - a 1 1/2 year old lab/chow mix and a 1 1/2 year old lab/sharpei mix - we got them both when they were 12 weeks. Both dogs went to obedience school and obey commands very well. We have a five year old daughter and a two year old son that the dogs are great with. My wife just started watching a 5 year old boy during the day, and on his first day at our house the dogs saw him through the sliding glass door (they were on our deck) and started barking wildly at him. But later in the day my wife let the dogs inside and they didn't seem at all concerned with the boy. But on his second day at our house he walked by the bedroom that the dogs were laying in and once they saw him they barked and growled and began to chase him until my wife yelled at them to stop. She immediately put them outside.

F or the most part the dogs are very loving with our family. But they are very unpredictable with strangers. Some people will come over and the dogs will be very friendly. But other people come over and the dogs will be skittish and bark and growl. Up until now they have never show aggression towards children. The lab/chow mix has not outwardly show aggression towards other dogs, but he seems to invite aggression for whatever reason. It's not uncommon for dogs to posture and/or growl at him whether on the leash or at the off-leash dog park. My lab/sharpei has displayed some different warning signs. He is very skittish at home. By that I mean the slightest thing startles him. If he is sleeping in front of the couch and I get up off the couch he will cower and sometimes whimper. He is also not very fun on the leash. He does not growl or bark at other dogs but he make every attempt to get to them and he makes a snorting noise. My two dogs have also been in two fights with each other. The lab/chow "won" (I know that's not the best term) both times. He did not come out unscathed, but he is the larger of the two.

I'm very conflicted, because on one hand I see signs of aggression in both my dogs. I trust them completely with us, but I trust them less and less with strangers. On the other hand they are part of our family and I can't stand the thought of giving them up or putting them to sleep. I wanted to see what your thoughts were. Thanks.
Dan Weaver


My daughter has the prong collar for her seven month Staffie and she suggested I get the collar for my Staffie.

I have a seven year old Staffie called Samson. Samson is an absolute gem of a dog. He loves kids, adults, especially the ladies, he is a handsome chick magnet! People who are taken aback by him at first soon fall in love with him. Kids in the playground will run up to him and pet him and he is perfectly fine and loves the attention. You can take a new beef bone from him .... right out of his mouth and ask him to move to the back yard. He does not like seeing people arguing or any other dogs acting aggressively to another. He loves baby kittens and cats. He was introduced to our 13 year old Bichon and he always protected her and never ate from her bowl. He captured a baby rabbit in the backyard and was pushing it on the rear end eventually getting it to move on its way under the fence never showing any aggression to it. My daughter bought a couple of chinchillas about a year ago. He plays with them running around the basement. He hates seeing them in the cage and is happiest when they are running around him and even jumping on his back. My daughter got another Staffie pup about 5 months ago from a breeder. Samson immediately took on the big brother role. He plays with her, teaches her how to run and play in the yard. He can be left alone with the puppy and the bichon for all day and never a problem. When he is off leash (not an unsupervised situation) he will always come when I call him and never runs away.

BUT what am I doing wrong when we go for a walk I have to constantly avoid dogs as he gets
aggressive --- the other dogs usually are aggressive to him as well. He has been attacked by unleashed dogs and I have had to take him off two or three dogs in the past four months so I think he is getting a little punchy! He has been off leash and has often run up to other dogs and played and got along very well with no aggression at all. I walk him with a long leash and harness but when another dog approaches I always have a strong hold on him so he never gets to actually attack another dog. I feel it has to be me and was wondering if the prong collar is the answer for my seven year old near perfect Staffie.

Thanks
Ted


I have been reading your web site, lots of great information and it is greatly appreciated by us dog owners! I have a bit of a difficult situation. I have a Pomeranian and a Llahso Apso that are both 6 years old. I have had them since they were 10 weeks old. At the beginning of December my boyfriend and I took in a stray American Bulldog that was close to death (approximately 6 weeks old, weighted 4 lbs and couldn't walk). We took her to a couple specialists and were able to nurse her back to health. Justice is now almost 5 months and doing great, we have her in basic obedience training and she is currently showing signs of dog aggression but only toward our two dogs not any dogs in her class or neighbors dogs (she wants to play with them). She has grabbed a hold of our Pom 3 times now and shook him and each time we have to fight her to release him (possibly need a breaking stick??). We are thinking of getting an electric collar for when she goes after him; however, she has a HIGH tolerance for pain and we don't know if this will help. What do you suggest?

Thank you!


I have a question. I've read through other posts about dog aggression but need advice on my own dog. I have a 2 year old Rottie that I've bottle fed from a day old. He was AL WAYS food aggressive (he growled and TRIED to bite a 4 weeks old over food .... hitting him hasn't helped ... obedience training hasn't corrected the problem ... .it just pissed him off more.) He was never dog aggressive until my 2 year old Akita/German Shepherd mix was killed---nothing related to him. After that it started with strange cats and then progressed to dogs---my 5 year old cocker spaniel included who already suffered a dog attack by someone else's akita. He killed my shepherd puppy AFTER playing with it for a week..(that's when he started trying to kill dogs---he hadn't ever showed aggression towards them before.) He's now attacked my spaniel 3 times---in which I've beat the hell out of him--but to no avail.. .. he's fine for a little
while and then he tried to attack her again HE DOES have bad blood lines (he's dad does the same
thing; but his mom was the sweetest Rottie ever!) He has also started to blank out.. .. he goes in a daze & doesn't seem to know where he is or what he's done ... I've dealt with people aggressive dogs before & have handled them fine but never a dog aggressive dog. After he attacks them he seems to go into shock.

He loves people as long as they stay away from his food .! knock the hell out of him & then
make him eat that food from my hand & then when I set the bowl back down I'll touch him and if he growls I knock him upside his head or kick the shit out of him & then take the food and make him eat it while I pet him----if he continues I take the food and he doesn't get the rest of it UNTIL he eats while letting me touch him. I purchased to chrome basket muzzle from you and when I put it on he constantly tries to take it off.. .. .! out a harness on him---then the muzzle and then I take collars & attach them from the muzzle to the harness to ensure he can't slip out of it.. .... but even with the muzzle on he still tries to attack my other dogs (they are all in kennels but him and my spaniel.. he tries to fight them through the wiring ..... ) If I let one of the pups out while he's wearing the muzzle he takes the muzzle and uses it as a weapon of sorts ..... he keeps slamming his head against them. Any suggestions on what to do with him .... .! I'm at the point of putting him down ... .! wouldn't trust giving him to anyone else. The vet thinks it could be due in part because the people we got him off of feed the pregnant mom raw meat & then wouldn't feed them for awhile (animal control was called). Asher (my Rottie) is the only surviving pup out of 4 litters from his sire .... the rest died or the mom ate them ..... he only survived because we stayed up with him day & night. I am VERY attached to this dog because I did have to do 15 minute feedings 24 hours a day his skin was so thin that his antibiotics would seep out of his skin he had to have 3 wormings a week for the first 6 weeks of his life and penicillin shots starting at 3 days old .... not to mention several times we had to do CPR on him ... his skin tore where it was so thin & caused him to set up severe infections where as of today he still has to use a special vet prescribed shampoo ..... .! have a lot of time and money invested in him & I don't mind paying more money on him if you know of anything that may help. He's completely healthy--physically anyway. Our vet wants us to have his canine teeth cut out but I refuse because I got a 2nd opinion and they said it can set up a severe sinus infection or even kill him ..... he has an overbite because he was on a bottle for so long .... Any help or comments would be appreciated. We even bought an electric collar & shock him at level 10 correction but he stops ... shakes his head & goes right back to what he was doing.


your web site has given me more education on dogs than my last thirty years of being a pet owner. I am having a bit of trouble with two of my dogs. I have a 8 year old Boston Terrier (male), a 2.5 year old Chihuahua (female) and a 16 month old Boxer (female). Had I known about the "pack", I would have never have gotten the Boxer. My trouble is with the Boston and the Boxer. Ninety-nine percent of the time these two dogs are loving and playing great. The Boston licks the face and ears of the Boxer until she is soaked with slobber. She appears not mind it, so we don't stop them. They sleep together on one dog bed when they both have their own, so all in all they seem like each other. What I have experienced that has made me write is them fighting over toys 3 times in the last month. It has only happened when I have been present. We weren't even playing with the toy when the last two broke out, it was just there. They go out in the morning together and stay out most of the day and don't have any problems (as I know of). It only has happened when I was out with them.

I have taken all toys away and they have been kept apart in the yard so they are not tempted to fight over a stick or something like that. My question to you is, is this going to be something I can correct or am I stuck with keeping them apart when we are outside. Also if I were to keep a leash without a handle and a choke collar on the dogs while we all are outside and a fight broke out, do you thing that "choking them out" would be appropriate and a punishment that would make a difference. Any advice and knowledge you could lend would be great and thank you again for such a great and informative web site.


Kudos to you, for telling it like it is. Ignorance is the cause of most of the problems I've just read about on your site. I applaud you for your honesty, and for trying to provide pet owners with good, truthful information.

I stumbled across your site while searching for information on causes / remedies for aggression. I've learned quite a bit. And realize that our "pack" should be treated differently than we have been treating them. I will be visiting the site often, and reading up on pack behavior.

Currently we have 5 fur-kids, ranging from 14 to 1 year in age. Lucy, a malamute/boxer mix, age 3 and definitely the leader of the whole pack, has attacked a dog in the past, Sandy, that we had to put down after breaking a rear leg in the tussle for the second time - our vet determined that the chances for another recovery from a broken leg was not very likely for Sandy. The first time, Sandy was in a cast for 5 months, with weekly bandage changes. Lucy has now turned on our other female, a sweet submissive black lab/chow mix named Dory. Thanks to our neighbor, a local animal control officer and rescue worker, we were able to get Dory stitched up and taken care of in the middle of the night.

However, since this is the second female dog that Lucy has turned on, and she has always shown signs of aggression to the point of requiring a muzzle at the vet's office, and trying to "eat" a vet tech, we have decided that her aggression is too dangerous. I've caught her once with my cat in her mouth, as well, several months ago. She's well behaved towards me, but not anyone else, canine, feline or human, including my husband. My neighbors fear her, because she's an intimidating looking dog - although she is featured in the Dog Fancy page-per-day calendar for 200S .... someone thought she was cute besides me.

Sadly, my Lucy will be euthanized this weekend. It's breaking my heart, but I believe that this is the best thing for her. I have worked with our vet, and a behaviorist, and the consensus is that she's not going to get better, but worse, as she has in the past year or so, progressing to the point of even growling at me and at the other dogs besides the female. I've seen aggression info on the web that advocates re-homing the animal - but your site is the only one that seems to take an honest approach, that if there is danger involved to people, or other dogs in the home, the dog needs to be put to sleep. Why dump a behavior problem on an unsuspecting potential owner??? I admit that I should have done more work with her regarding her aggression at the first signs. I've noticed that most of your emails come from people who won't admit their mistakes. I'm admitting it, and thanking you for providing a wealth of information on what to do differently going forward.

It's been a hard week, waiting for this weekend, knowing that it's Lucy's last few days. Your site reinforced my belief that we are making the right decision, and I guess I just wanted to thank you. I can tell you've put tons of time and thought and experience into your site. People tend to be quick to complain, and slow to compliment. I just wanted to let you know, you've done a wonderful service to pet owners.


I hope that you can explain to me what is happening in my house with my dogs. Until three years ago I had four dogs - two Bichons and two Lhasas. The Bichons were two females who were six and seven years old respectively when the Lhasas were brought into the household at 10 weeks old. The Lhasas are male and female litter mates. All four were neutered/spayed. The 6 year old Bichon had a problem at first with the Lhasas but after about two months she warmed up to them and we lived happily for many years. Three and a half years ago that Bichon died at 10 years old. The other Bichon was 11 at the time. The three remaining dogs continued to live happily. The remaining Bichon is almost 15 now and deaf and almost blind. She gets around well enough though with the exception of some arthritis which stiffens her up until she gets going. She eats well and does not mess in the house. In the past year or so I have seen a slow but progressive change in her personality. She seems to be slowly regressing "mentally." The vet says she is healthy enough and as long as she is happy and comfortable, I plan on enjoying her companionship until the end. However, over the last 8 months or so, the Lhasas have become randomly aggressive towards her. Out of nowhere and for no reason one or both of them will attack her, knocking her down, making her scream and cry. I pull them away but they try very hard to continue the attack. I have immediately "gotten in their face" right afterwards by pulling the collar and pulling them close while I look in their face and admonish with "NO!" They immediately calm the aggression and everything normalizes until the next time. Unfortunately, there is always a "next time." When I'm away from the house, I no longer leave them all together anymore, leaving the Lhasas with each other, away from the Bichon. I don't get what's going on. Food has never been an issue, they are fed in three different comers of the kitchen, they eat their meals and the dishes come up. Why do the Lhasas attack a poor old almost defenseless dog that they have lived with all their lives? They are otherwise very sweet, gentle dogs. They have fought with each other on occasion but it is usually over a toy that is then removed from them both and the problem is thus solved. I know the solution is to keep them from the Bichon as I'm doing, but, I really don't understand why this has evolved. Can you explain?


I have a 4 year old male neutered pit-bull. Until my 13 year old Lhasa died in December, King had always been a wonderful pet. Since Gizmo died King has started growling. At first it was a fearful growl. I talked with my vet, did some research and did some behavioral obedience training. This seemed to work at first. Recently we got a female puppy. King was fine at first but attacked the puppy this weekend and has started growling at me again. The growl now is a warning and the frequency has increased.

I have been keeping the pup and King separate for fear of a another attack. King at this point obeys my commands. Until recently King has never been aggressive. I am considering putting King to sleep but would like to try everything I can first. Your suggestions would be helpful.


This is intrusive but need insight. Have 2 Rotts, both indoor pets, both fixed. Good-natured. Apparently very fond of each other; no food-aggression, snapping, growling etc and play gently together in the house. The female is from a rescue; the male have had since he was a pup. Have had her for 3 years. She has attacked the male twice, without warning, over toys in the yard.

Today was the 2nd time. She got him by the throat, would not stop despite being otherwise very obedient and submissive to me (female). When I finally managed to get her to let go, he quit retaliating and walked away. She eagerly went after him again but I stopped her. Vets says either re-home her or try shock-collar. I've worked with shock collars to prevent fights but cannot see how one will stop a fight when it breaks out, and am concerned she was used in the past for fighting as she seemed to know what she was doing and was happy doing it. He even tried submitting but she nearly killed him. Any ideas besides re-homing her?

Any input you can offer, no matter how brusque will be welcome. I am thinking I have a very bad situation here in the brutality and swiftness of her attacks compared to her 99.9% of the time loving nature with him and me.


I own a 3 yr old spayed female catahoula, a 3 year old male German Shepherd has been both Czech and German police trained (very obedient with my husband and listens to me when my husband is not around). I also recently purchased a female German Shepherd (15 months old) for later breeding purposes. So far I have had one dog fight. The two older dogs against the new one. I had to pick up a large stick and threaten the two older dogs to get them to stop. The dogs all live in the house (crated not loose) and the fight happened when I was taking to new dog for a walk on the property. I want to prevent this from ever happening again. Any particular books or videos you can suggest would be a big help.


I really have been reading the dog fighting section, so please don't yell at me. Today me and my daughter witnessed our first pet fight. My GSD viciously attacked my Scottish Terrier. I will admit that my GSD is not trained and I have little control over her. That is partially my fault as my husband is in the service and is deployed and has been since the GSD was a few months old. I haven't had the time that I need to handle everything going on in the household as well as I would like too, including training my 1 year old GSD.

My Scottie is 6 years. I am petrified after what we saw today. I immediately enrolled my GSD in a 4 week course outside our home to allow training and my Scottie to heal. I am scared that I made the wrong decision to keep the GSD out of fear that it may be too late next time for my Scottie, or a person will be injured. I was able to break up the fight, but only after kicking the GSD in the ribs with all my strength several times, and even then she continued to re-engage tearing open my Scottie's back muscle. Is it possible for the dogs to cohabitate, or should the GSD go to another home? Safety for my Scottie and children is the main concern, but we do love the GSD and the kids would be hurt to see her go as well. Do dogs that do that kind of damage deserve another chance in the home? Please advise. Thank you.


I just visited your web site because I am desperately seeking help with my two dogs. I have a 3 yr. old golden lab/golden retriever cross and a 2 yr. old golden lab/sheppard cross. I got them both as puppies, so the lab/sheppard cross has only known life with the other dog. The situation is a strange to me because the aggressive dog is the younger, smaller female. The male, the golden lab/retriever is submissive to the female.

They are both fantastic dogs. They listen to their commands and they have never showed aggression towards anyone. However, the female will attack the male, sometimes it seems for no reason. It isn't often and it isn't extreme, but she has drawn blood on several occasions. I am very concerned also because she is very aggressive towards other dogs. I have tried correcting her in a firm voice and I have also drove the stray dogs away as aggressively as I can. I have even (and I hate to admit it) had to smack her to try and get her to stop. This is probably wrong, but I'm at my wits end. I love both my dogs. I don't want to have to get rid of her, but I'm afraid she is an accident waiting to happen. Please help.


I came across your web site and found it very helpful. One of the best I have seen yet. I do have a personal question about my situation with my two dogs and was wondering if you could perhaps give us your input. My boyfriend and me are avid dog-lovers and have adopted a female chow-chow/sheltie mix who is 1 1/2 yrs old, a male american pit-bull who is 11 months, and a male rottweiler who is 4 yrs old who unfortunately has valley fever. We have adopted them all in Tucson from animal control except for the pit-bull who we bought from breeders.

The problem we are having are with the two male dogs. They have lived together for about 10 months and had been fine up until 2 months ago. The pit-bull was not neutered and the rottweiler was. They got along perfectly for their first 8 months. The pit-bull is not the problem at all ironically. He is the sweetest thing and is just trying to be friends. The rottweiler is the grouchy one probably also from being sick and use to hump him when he was young. The first fight started when the pit-bull came in from running around outside and was very high energy and pounced on him to give him tons of kisses. The rottweiler just snapped and started a fight. The pit-bull tried to defend itself but ended up crying after we pulled them apart. After that we immediately neutered the pitbu11 (we had just not gotten around to it and that made us jump on it). We did not really know what to do so we have been letting the rottweiler just be in the living room and let the pit-bull outside and to sleep in our guest room at night so they are separated.

We have been trying to reintegrate them because we do not want to separate them for the rest of their lives. They have been separated though for about a month and a half now. We inter grated them by letting them smell and lick each other. The rottweiler is fine with it but is very needy for people attention and gets jealous if we pet the any of the dogs without petting him too. He will just try to sit in our lap and lick our face until we start petting him too. We have been inter grating them thru the fence and then about 10 min today we had them both sit in the living room together.

They are fine no major aggression but I am sure if the pit-bull jumped up and tried to lick him or if we let the rottweiler walk around and not only sit their could be problems. We are too scared and have been prolonging integration in fear of another fight between the two of them. We are kind of at a loss of what to do. The rottweiler also gets protective whenever the pit-bull is playing with our girl dog the chow-chow/sheltie mix and looks like he wants to start a fight. Do you have any advice on how to inter grate them or any ideas what to do. We were shocked that they were fine for 8 months living together and now all of a sudden are fighting for the alpha male position. We love them both and just want to be a happy family. Your advice would be comforting. Thanks for listening.


Me and my wife currently have a 7 year old chow/rot mix that I raised from a puppy, before my wife and I met. The dog listens to every word I say and does everything she can to please me. The problem/embarrassment is that she does not like old men or small dogs. She will show signs of aggression towards these beings and I try to ensure she is never around them or remover her from the situation immediately. For if we take her to gatherings with other dogs she will sit right next to me and won't wonder off with the others. If another dog comes near I make an effort to remove them and she seems very appreciative, but if it's a larger dog then she doesn't seem to mind as much and will play (a little). As an example, my parents have a Doberman and my dog will play, but at the same time she will let the Doberman know when she has had enough ... with an in air snap or growl. We try to break them up if it gets too far, but there is times when my dog will stay over with the parents so we can't watch them all the time.

Recently we decided we were going to get a Flat-Coat Retriever as a second dog. I wanted the new dog to learn the wonderful traits and training my current dog has so we don't have to start from scratch. Just yesterday the neighbor's Lab came over (with the owner) and was talking to my wife while shoveling snow. The two dogs played fine and my wife and neighbor became complacent and quit paying attention. Not but a minute later my dog was on top of the other with a tiny chunk of the labs ear. My wife was in hysterics and our dog came cowering over to her and my wife put our dog in the garage and offered to pay for the other dogs vet. We kept our dog in the indoor kennel all night and she knew she was in trouble.

Today, my wife found your site and is now terrified to get the new puppy. After reading your site she feels our dog is too much of an Alpha and would attack our new puppy. Do you feel she is right in her worries and that we should not get a new pup? I read that Chows were fine with dogs in their own family but could be aggressive to others outside the family. So I felt we were fine to get the new dog. What are your thoughts & suggestions? Information coming from you would be greatly appreciated, for I want a new outgoing non-aggressive dog but don't want to put it in harms way.


Hello. I have searched to find an Q&A that applies to my situation and have come close but no cigar! We have 3 spayed female rescue dogs, age 7, 6 and 10 months - all in the 30-45 pound range - one Husky/Retr., one GSO mix and one Lab mix respectively. We adopted each at approximatly 3 months of age and in that order, also. I feel that I have done a good job establishing myself as Alpha leader with the exception of the puppy, but I believe that the dogs themselves also have their own order -this contradicts what I've been reading on much of the "net”.

This is where the problem is. The puppy is relentless! She is constantly antagonizing the other 2 dogs, which often results in a quick fight - no harm, no bloodshed - just a lot of noise and "posturing”. These fights mainly take place with the 7 year old. When the pup is playing with the 6 year old, the older dog is much more aggressive than I have ever seen her be! Lots of mounting and growling and biting, pinning her to the ground, etc. In watching, you would think that if the pup would just surrender, this would all end, but she doesn't ever just give in. She constantly steals the older dog’s toys, while they are playing with them and then hoards all of them. lf you try to pet the others, she runs over and knocks them out of the way and climbs all over you - which does not go un-handled by us. The two oldest dogs get along wonderfully as always, so, as you can see the "thorn in our paws" so to speak, is the puppy!

She is currently on Amitryptiline (2 weeks) for separation anxiety and we are awaiting our order of OAP. I feel that I cannot figure out who is Alpha. lf I could, perhaps I could help this situation, although I am not sure how. After reading your articles I realized that I made a mistake in underestimating the pack drive in 3 dogs. We have always had 3 females in the past and I now feel that perhaps we had a very special, unique group before as there was never so much as a growl. The 2 oldest dogs were part of this original group. The puppy seems to refuse my role as Alpha in the sense that she's pushy for pets, constantly touching me and running into me/knocking me over, etc. Perhaps I am mistaking this behavior - is this just part of the separation anxiety? What do you think is going on here and what should I do? We love all of them, but, we do not want anyone to be injured or spend the rest of their lives in turmoil! We adopted them to give them a safe happy home! In addition, we have a small child that I would never want to end up in the middle of a fight somehow by accident. Thank you so much for any advice you have and/or any direction you can give me in this matter.


I am a law enforcement officer and have handled a SAR dog for a private agency for the past 4 and a half years. My GSD is 5 yrs old and has been a real challenge to handle. He is a true hard and dominant dog and with the help of a good trainer and your article on dealing with the dominant dog, I have been able to continue working with him. I respect the fact that you emphasize it takes intelligence and attention to the smaller things as opposed to fighting and alpha rolling dogs as a means of establishing pack order. Initially I went that route and serve as an example of how it doesn't always work (have the scars to prove it). My dog still challenges me about every other month and when this happens I have to once again win the battle. This usually is not that difficult anymore, however, the threat of a serious bite is always in the back of my mind and I have to choose my battles carefully. My question concerns protection work. I have received a lot of advice in the past on how to deal with my situation. I have heard stories of handlers in my situation that found protection work as an outlet for their dog's aggression and reduced or eliminated the incidents of handler aggression. I am wondering if this could be true. I have not done aggression work due to the fact my dog is a SAR dog and also I feared that I may be adding fuel to the fire. I have handled dogs in the past that were protection trained and have the means to train correctly should I choose to go this route. Your input would be appreciated.


I have read most of your web site over the last 2-3 days and realize that I have been doing many things wrong with my animals. Over the last few years I have talked with animal behaviorist, my vet, trainers and no one has given me any sound advice in relation to the dominance issues we've had with our dogs. Thank God I found your site! I just wish I had found it 2 weeks ago today.

Let me give you some background. We had 6 dogs. Originally, 4 were outside dogs and 2 were inside (as they are old). Outside we had one male, Rocky, 4.5 years; Tinker, female, 9 years; Shay, female, 6 years and Roo, female, 5 years. About 2 years ago, the night before Thanksgiving Shay and Tinker got into a bad fight. Tinker was the alpha. During this fight Roo jumped into the fight and did as much damage as Shay. Tink was hurt badly and had to have drains and stitches. At that point we decided to keep Tinker in the house and only let her go outside with supervision. All seemed well for a time. The only problem we had was that every time Tink went outside and Shay was there, Shay would run over and do a dominance stance over Tink and Tink would give in but reluctantly. (I know, stupid us. We just didn't know.) During the first fight Rocky stayed out of the fighting.

In Dec. one day my husband was out in the yard playing with Shay, Roo and Rocky. (when the dogs were younger they were inside dogs but when we moved to our present home we put the younger ones outside because it was too much with 6 dogs inside) Because the dogs are outside, Shay especially would very excited when my husband or I would play with her as she missed being inside. I didn't realize that day that my husband was still outside with the dogs and went to let Tink out to do her business. Bad mistake. Tink ran over to Dave who was petting Shay and the fight was on. The first fight Shay had with Tink she did some damage but Roo did most of it and we were able to separate the dogs. This fight Shay was like a dog possessed. She ripped into Tink and Tink did not fight back. Roo jumped into the fight also but eventually I got her off and my husband was busy trying to keep Rocky out of the fight. At one point I got Shay to release Tink and Tink tried to run but Shay chased her and lit into her again. The whole think shocked me. Out of all our dogs, I would have not expected this type of behavior from Shay. The result was Tink was terribly wounded and by God's grace she made it through but since then we've never let her near any of the outside dogs again.

After the last fight in Dec. things settled down and the outside dogs were playing fine and doing really well until 2 weeks ago. I had noticed recently that periodically Shay would make a dominance move over Roo but nothing came of it and they would start to play. 2 weeks ago today, I was weed-eating on the outside of the fence line and Roo started barking. The dogs had just been playing chase and were doing fine. Roo jumped back a few feet from the fence line to not get hit with the grass and when she did Rocky kind of growled at her but that was it. All of a sudden Shay comes running up and does a major dominance move on her. At this time, I think I did something wrong. (I learned this from your site) I had been told to distract one of the dogs if it looked like a fight was going to ensue, so I did what I was told. All of a sudden in the blink of an eye the girls started fighting and unfortunately all my efforts to break them up failed (I screamed at them, hit them with broom handle, sprayed water). My husband had just left for work when the fight broke out, so I ran to call him. By the time he got home, about 10 min. later, both dogs were bleeding head to toe and were dying in front of us. Their injures were so severe we had to put them down.

I apologize for this being so long but I felt the background info was important. My question is this. During the last fight Rocky who had always stayed out of fights jumped into the fight but he would also jump out of it (I didn't see all of the fight and so I don't know exactly how much damage Rocky was doing). He sustained no wounds other than a few scrapes on his lips. Since this time Rocky has been at a loss. He sits by the window to our family room all day and doesn't move unless we come outside to play with him. We can't bring Rocky in as we also have cats and he will kill a cat as look at it (he's killed 2-3 feral cats that have gotten in our yard). Rocky is a wonderful big boy. He's a lab/chow mix and extremely sweet but doesn't know his own strength. As an 8 month old puppy he accidentally (I think it was) killed my pomeranian. Shay had been stealing his nylabone from him and late one night while letting my porn go to the bathroom she accidentally crossed with 1/4" of his bone and he reached down and grabbed her. He let her go on command but he had crushed her skull. This incident along with the fight two weeks ago makes me very nervous about introducing another dog as a playmate for Rocky. We have tried to decrease our dog population in the past in regards to Rocky but he has oddly torqued back legs that have caused him to have bad knees and the surgeries to fix them are a $1,000.00 each. We had one leg done but not the other as my husband lost his job and we just recently have started making enough to pay all the bills. No one wants a dog that's going to cost them a grand up front. With this in mind, do you think that Rocky is too aggressive for us to find him another playmate? I can't stand to watch him pine for Shay and Roo (they were his best buddies) but I also don't want any other dog fights. I've had my fill. I want to do what's right for my dogs. Rocky does have good outside conditions. We have a large building outside that had individual kennels for all the dogs and Rocky sleeps there with the fans or heater, whatever he needs.

I know I've gone on to long and I apologize again, it's just that for years I've tried to get answers to my dog questions and I've never found anyone as knowledgeable as you. I really respect your opinion and I know that I did a lot of handler errors. Thanks for any insight you can share.


I have a de sexed male Husky x Samoyed who is 3 yrs old. Had him since he was a pup and have gone through thorough training with him. As he was getting bored during the day I thought it would be best if he got a companion. I contacted the Husky society about any rescues, as I wanted an older dog.

I ended up with a female husky who was l6mths old. Was great when we went to get her, took to the family really well. She was bought as a puppy by the previous owners as a companion for their male Malamute, and the reason they were getting rid of her (as we were told), is the lady getting a divorce & not able to look after this one. When we brought her home she didn’t take to my dog well at all, and it took a lot of fighting until they worked out their order. Now they seem to get along great, and she is very good with all the family.

But she has started guarding everything in the backyard, she will take the males dog if he moves away from it, and put it under her while she eats hers. If he comes in a 2 meter radius of her to try and find it she bares her teeth and growls. Unfortunately the other day she attacked him, and wounded his ear, and even when he was retreating and crying she continued her attack. I took away all the toys and bones from the yard so she has nothing to guard. Usually if he is eating something she will leave him until he moves away from it, and steals it. But tonight was a different story. I gave them each raw hide, when she finished hers, she went straight for his, and he actually growled a little (which he has never done) but she took it straight from his mouth and then attacked, they had a bad fight after this, in which she took his food and left his other ear bleeding. All her hairs on her back were standing on end, and when I called her so she could give it to me, she ran away to eat it.

This behavior is really worrying, and the advice I got from the society, is if I can't train her to stop this aggression it is better she be put down. The thing is she is wonderful with the family, and I'm wondering if she can be trained, or if not will she be safe to horne with someone with no other pets. Cause other then this she is great and shows no signs of aggression with humans. Her previous owners did not trained her, it seems to me she was raised by the other dog who was 3 yrs when she was a puppy. She is terrified of the lead as she has never been walked. I really feel sorry for her and wonder if there is anything you can suggest in this situation. Thank you for your time.


Our chow will be 10 yrs old this sept. He has always been the typical chow chow. Aloof and set in his was, but never aggressive until 2002. Now a little history. In sept of 2001 a family member moved out, then in Oct another family member got very ill and died in March of 2002. This seemed to have caused some signs of depression in the dog, but we gave him extra love and he seemed to be pulling out of it until June 6th 2002. He had a grand maul seizure. It lasted 30 minutes. He had 4 more seizures after that all spaced about 6 months apart. Now he was raised with two cats and two other male dogs. After each seizure he seemed to show signs of aggression. He would attack his brothers but not really hurt them and it was never for any apparent reason. It seemed that he was trying to be alpha male but he never had been or tried to be before that. Then one night we came home and found a dead stray dog in our yard. We don't know how or why he got in the yard but it was very obvious who killed it. We were very upset about this but realized that the dog was in our dog’s territory and they were only protecting their home. But it did bother us. Then two years ago we brought another dog home. A female this time. Everything was fine, but the chow did show he was boss. With a few attacks but the female seemed to hold her own. She is very dominant and she let him know that she will fight back. Then in dec 2004 we lost our oldest dog to cancer. He and the chow were the first two dogs. The chow didn't seem to miss him at all.

Now here's the real problem. Two weeks ago we brought home another puppy. Another female. The chow really didn't seem to pay to much attention to it other than he would chatter like a cat does. Then he would take little nips at her. We left the house one evening for about three hours and upon our return sure enough he attacked her. She had the same tooth bites as the stray dog had. But believe it she pulled through. She may have to have some surgeries later on, but she was a fighter and made it. Why would he do this to that little baby? I can just feel how horrified she must have been that this dog was going to kill her. My first thought was that the chow has lost his mind and he needs to be put down. He had killed before and he tried it again on an animal in our household.

My husband on the other hand refuses to do it. He says it was not the chows fault that we were careless and should not have brought another dog into the house and he wasn't going to kill one dog just to have another one. So we have bought a kennel for inside the house and we will either kennel the baby or the chow if we have to leave the house. This is one answer till she is big enough to defend herself, but I do not trust the chow any longer, I feel there is something wrong with him, that his little brain is fried and he would be safer to himself and the other dogs in the house if he was put down. Please let me know what else there is I can do or if you too agree he is a danger to himself. I am petrified of something even worse happening. Thanks for your help in this matter.


We hope you can help us. About three years ago, we adopted two mixed breed dogs, one female, Australian Shepherd mix and one male white German shepherd mix. Both were about one year old. We already had one female German Shepherd mix about 7years old at the time, and one male small Dachshund mix about 5 years old. The new male had no problem with anyone. He was the most laid back dog ever, of course, there was no question as to who was the pack leader. As long as the white male was around, the two females seemed to get along. We live in a very rural mountainous region of the Appalachians and all the dogs are free to come and go as they please. So, he started bringing home deer he had killed. After he was done with it, the two females would get into a fight over the carcass. These fights didn't happen often, but when they did it was awful. The white male is now gone.... we don't know what happened to him, but since, he has been gone; the two females have really been having a power struggle. I thought things were worked out, until the younger female began bringing her own deer kills home... the older female gets too close and bam.... a fight. I can't afford the vet trips if this continues to happen..... So my questions are, since we live where we do with the roaming dogs and wildlife:

1. Will these fights ever stop?
2. Do we need to put the younger dog down? Or, is there some kind of training to prevent this. We just had a little girl, and are concerned about how safe she will be around the younger dog (not worried about her and the older dog).
3. Can the younger dog adapt to other circumstances if we gave her away?
4. Is there something we can do to have harmony on the mountain again and keep both girls?

We are desperate for help. Please respond as soon as you can. We are thanking you in advance for any help you can provide.


Wonder if you can help me. I live with 4 Dobermans which are all pets and love each other most of the time ... one of them is a very gentle 2 year old bitch which, to cut a long story short, tends to get bullied by the others and ends up worse every time whenever there is a 'disagreement' and is beginning to get demoralized. Is there a kind of vest for her upper chest and neck which would offer her protection against fight-bites without restricting her too much and making her uncomfortable? Those spiky collars are horrible but would they protect her? In any case they don’t protect her chest... I'd prefer some padded, high necked, soft vest preferably black. Do they exist, or does anyone make them to order? I very much appreciate your response. Many thanks and regards.


I have two male dogs. A great dane/lab about 2 years old and a boxer mix about 1 1/2. The great dane/lab has been fixed since oct of last year and the boxer mix was fixed this week. They have been together since oct of last year with no problems. the great dane/lab I adopted from a shelter in oct and the boxer mix I have had since he was born.

We recently moved from north carolina to oklahoma. In NC they were kept mostly inside and slept in crates. We are staying with my dad until we can get a place of our own. My dad has 3 dogs, one inside, a fixed female mutt about 7 years old and 2 outside, male and female siblings, german shepard/blue heeler both fixed, and about 10 years old. do they have had a drastic life style change recently.

My dogs have become aggressive towards each other to the point of vet visits. I am not sure which one starts it but the great dane/lab got the bad end of it. My dad’s male dog is aggressive towards all dogs except his sister, even my dads inside dog, he has to pin him up to let her outside everyday. His male dog is pinned up for my dogs to go out in the back yard also.

My dogs were staying in a crate together when not going potty until we could make other arrangements. We bought a kennel 12 x 12 and put it in the back yard. When my dogs were in the kennel my dads outside dogs were loose in the back yard. My dad’s male dog would not stop barking at them and they got into a small fight which I sprayed them all with water and they quit. My dad put a no bark collar on his male dog and this kept him from barking at my dogs. I also had the boxer mix fixed. The day after the boxer mix was fixed my dogs got into it again, this time the water did not stop them. I did not see the fight start. after the finally quit, the boxer mix was cleaning the great dane/lab's wounds. I took the great dane/lab to the vet and put him back out side with the boxer mix. Later I separated them in different crates and have not let the around each other for fear of the fighting again. They seem to want to be with each other still and do not fight though the crates.

The boxer mix would sometimes mount the great dane/lab. he did not like this but was never aggressive about it. I noticed after the bad fight the boxer mix was raising its fur along its spine towards the great dane/lab but quit after I told him to stop it. I know it takes about 6 weeks for the fixing of the boxer mix to have an affect and once this happens it may help some of the problems. I do not want to have to find a home for one of them. I want to help them to get along. I think some of the problems may be with my dads dogs and them not being inside and part of the family like they were, do you think once we find a place of our own that may help also? can you recommend some training I can do to help, some books maybe? thank you for any help you can give me.


I have 3 dogs, a Husky male, a chow female and their pup which is a mix chow and husky. All 3 dogs have lived peacefully for the past 4 years (the pup is 4 years old). Recently, the mix (the pup) has become aggressive towards the mother chow who is very meek and small. The pup is very strong and powerful. In the latest incident, she attacked the mother viciously and was the first time blood was drawn. I have since had to keep them separated which is a very difficult situation for me, but I am very afraid to try to put them back together for fear she will hurt the chow or possibly even kill her. Is it possible that the dog would fight till she kills? I am not comfortable enough with her myself to know to what extent I should discipline her as she is very hard to read, although she seems very timid towards me and often puts her tail between her legs. I am not sure what kind of sign this is. The male and the mother chow has been spayed and the pup has not been as I never saw any reason in the past to have her spayed. I have been told that although there is no guarantee, but having her spayed could help. I am told she is not adoptable because she has not been spayed, she is too old now and no one will probably want her and she has had no socialization with anyone but myself and the other 2 dogs. They are all outside dogs and they live together in their pen together, and usually come in and out from their yard and my patio, but right now I am having to alternate bringing one inside and leaving the other outside and reversing it the next day. I am having to alternate them each day. Do you have any suggestions?


I have quite a few questions about dog aggression. I have 2 german Rottweilers and they never eat together nor do I allow them to eat around each other, but when ever my husband tries to pet the one that is not the dominant one but does challenge the dominant one with growling and ruff housing it becomes very difficult. They are 24 months and weight about 138 and 145 pounds. We don't fear them at all, but we just don't want this to lead to more serious brawls that will lead to a much more serious fight. If we separate them, in which they do have a nice back yard that we would have to keep them separate forever? We tried to ride them together and they had a brawl so we have control of them at all times and we are always in control of the situation but, they have been obedience trained ... but now they have developed a mind of their own ... What should we do?


I have a 3 year old female (spayed) Bull mastiff (110 lbs), and a 19 month old male Standard Poodle (55- 601bs). The Poodle joined my home when he was 10 months old. Although they get along fine, I've been reading a lot about dominance between dogs out of curiosity. I wonder if males always assume dominance over females, even when the female is older, and I can't seem to find an answer. It has always seemed that the poodle was the leader from day one. He's much more active; the bull mastiff is laid back and very easy-going. He always initiates contact between the two, usually the bull mastiff ignores him, sometimes she will nip back, or they'll both stand on their hind legs, and "wrestle". It really seems more like play than a fight, neither one has ever hurt the other, not even minimally. The bull mastiff will expose her belly to the poodle, I've never seen the poodle expose his belly to her. Sometimes the poodle will growl if the bull mastiff approaches his food and she will immediately back away. The poodle is protective of his family and territory. The bull mastiff is much more friendly with strangers, but the poodle won't allow strangers to get too close to the bull mastiff or myself and children for that matter, unless I say it's OK He doesn't allow anyone in my yard or driveway, unless I say ok, the bull mastiff really doesn't seem to care. My question is, simply out of curiosity, am I correct in believing that the poodle is the leader, based on their behavior? I'm very interested in the answer.


Question:

We have a 3 year old bichon frise that we have had since she was 4 months old.  At night she will be in my chair or my husband's and if the other person walks near she starts growling and trying to bite.  Any other time she is our shadow, especially mine following me constantly and getting in my lap.  What is wrong?  What do you recommend. 

Thanks for your help,
Linda

Ed's Response:

The problem is you have never established pack structure with this dog and you are weak pack leaders. When a dog has a weak pack leader it assumes the role itself. Many dogs don’t want to be the pack leader and this results in stress.

Your dog is warning people to stay away. That’s the job of a  pack leader.

I recommend that you read the free eBook on my web site titled THE GROUND WORK TO ESTABLISHING PACK STRUCTURE WITH AN ADULT DOG.

This protocol is how I establish a relationship with every new dog that I get. The biggest behavioral problems that dog owners face stem from a lack of leadership and pack structure. This article will get you started on the right foot.

It does not matter if people have lived with a dog for 3 weeks or 3 years, they can still start this program from square one and see positive results.

The second biggest problem that people have is listening to advice from well intentioned friends who lack experience in training dogs. Everyone has an opinion on what to do, the problem is 99% of those people lack experience.

Dogs have been my life’s passion over the past 45 years. I let the common sense approach to my work speak for my experience. My web site is well over 10,000 pages. I recommend that you try the search function to help you.

Kind Regards,
Ed Frawley


Question:

Ed,

I got your name from a woman Cynthia Magnuson from Trinity Croft. 

She recommended you to me because I have an aggressive dog, who seems to be getting worse. 

When she was about 3 mos old I took her to a place called K-9 Guardian and we were asked to leave because she was so aggressive.  For a long time I thought I could handle her but she got worse. 

Last March I hired a dog trainer from “Who’s The Boss” and he worked with us until just recently and is still consulting over the phone.  She bit him 3 times and she bit me once. 

Now she seems to be taking her aggression out on the other dogs, she has become very pushy, more so than usual.  She even growled at me this morning.  I don’t know what to do, I know if I put her in a shelter she will be put to sleep and she is a very healthy 3 ½ year old dog.  Please, please, help me.

Thank-you,
Kathy

Answer:

Kathy,

Most of the time handler aggression is a pack issue. The problems need to be solved by the owner and not some trainer. What good does it do for a trainer to establish himself or herself as your dogs pack leader? NONE !!

Not knowing your skill as a handler or your size or your dogs size I can only tell you what I do with aggressive dogs. I start out with Re-establishing Pack Structure -  I start from ground zero and do exactly what I explain in the free ebook on my web site on THE GROUNDWORK TO ESTABLISHING PACK STRUCTURE My web site has a large number of FREE E-Books that I have written. Go to the main directory for E-Books http://www.leerburg.com/dogtrainingebooks.htm

I will have a DVD finished (I am working on it as we write here) that will be done is 3 or 4 weeks. http://leerburg.com/308.htm

I would also do the work in my DVD on DEALING WITH DOMINAT AND AGGRESSIVE DOGS

I personally work aggression with remote collars but then I understand how to do this and when necessary I use a muzzle. We have a ton of different type and sizes.

I did a DVD title REMOTE COLLAR TRAINING FOR THE PET OWNER. I use a Dogtra 1700CP on my personal dog. 

Cindy (my other half) used Dogtra 200NCP on her dogs.  It’s a little smaller in size than the 1700.

There are less expensive collars on the market but I don’t believe there are better collars.

I prefer the 1700 because it has a digital read out on the transmitter that goes from 1 to 127. This allows very precise control. I am raising a GSD right now and he started wearing the collar at 4 months. I would never own a dog again without using a remote collar.

While it may seem like I am just trying to sell you DVDs here – the fact is this is not a simple issue to fix – you already found that out. It begins with handler education and this is beyond the scope of an email. My web site is over 10,000 pages but even then there is a lot of topics discussed there. These DVD’s are directed at the source of dog aggression.

I hope this helps.


I have a 3 yr old GSD Rottie mix (Jazmine) and a 3.5 yr old pit mix (spike). We have had the GSD mix since she was a puppy and the pit mix we rescued when he was six months. We got the pit first and he was great but we had recently lost 2 of our dogs we had for several years and wanted to get 2 dogs so we got him and then we got our GSD mix and we kept them separate for a while and slowly introduced them in the beginning they did ok but we noticed the our pit was slightly picking on our female gsd mix. Like pushing her and what looked like playing. Then gradually Jazmine grew bigger than him and we noticed they would ruff house but nothing bad that's when the first fight came. I was playing ball with them i would through it then one would go and get it who ever got to it first then they would bring it back but this time when they brought it back the one who didn't get the ball suddenly attacked the one with the ball and this wasn't their usual play this was an attack. Jazmine being a gsd has lots of hair so when spike would got to bite her all he would get was hair but when jazmine would bite spike spike being a pit she would get mouth fulls of skin and would tear it. When we broke it up we had to take spike to the vet. This happened a few more time then we ended up giving spike to my sister and her husband. Well just recently my sister and her husband and spike and their 6month old little girl moved in with us. He stays in there bedroom and living room in the garage with them and they are never aloud to be around each other. And since then Jazmine will bark and attack any dog that comes her way. So we never take her any way we hardly take her on walks afraid there might be a loose dog. And the last time i took her on a walk a dog inside his fenced property was barking at us and she started to get all puffed up so i corrected her and she snapped at me and bite my hand not breaking the skin but i corrected her again. Another thing she is terrified of new people she will hide from them even if they are people she has met before like my sisters husband when she first met him she would run away from her and pee everywhere and now she still runs away but wont pee. My brother is a vet tech and he says that's just how GSDs are they are chickens but i think there might be something more. And i have been wanting to get another puppy but thought i should fix the problem between these 2 before i did anything else. Thanks for your help.

Natalie, CA


Hi Ed,

I have been following your website for the past 6 months and am very grateful for all of your experience that you share.  In April I bought a 9 week old Irish Wolfhound male puppy from Colorado.  It has been a dream of mine for the past 15 years.  I decided to go ahead and make the leap for my 50th birthday.  I had researched the breed and it’s needs and felt I was ready.  I knew it was the perfect breed for me.  The day before the breeder shipped him to me, she called and offered me another one that was left from a different litter.  He had a hernia that had been operated on, but it was healing nicely.  She said she wanted him to go to a good home.  The pup that I bought from her was a large male for $1500.00.   She offered me the smaller one for free!  I felt like fortune had smiled on me.  I have never formally trained a dog before, but had owned many in the past.  I expressed some concern at being a “novice” dog trainer and definitely a first time Wolfhound owner, but she poo pooed me and said as long as they loved me and I loved them everything would be fine.

I fell in love with them the day they came home to me.  I am a runner and weight lifter, but I work full time.  Due to their extreme growth pattern, they cannot run until they are 15-18 months old.  I basically gave up my workouts to make sure we took an hour country road (off leash) walk in the morning and again at night.  But it was ok because we were going to run together when they were old enough.  They both slept in my bedroom (next to my bed) all snuggled up together.  We go to the dog park 2 times a week and play with everyone.  They learned Sit, Down, Wait right away.  The smaller one anticipates what I want and tries to deliver all the time.  My big beautiful wheaten male, wanted to be held all the time.  I was in heaven. 

Until they turned 6 months old.  That was the day of the first fight, over a bone.  It was so ugly.  My smaller one had ripped the bigger ones ear open.  It bled like I cannot believe.  I got it fixed. They (and I) went on like nothing happened.  Until  the next fight…now they were 7 months old.  The play started getting really rough.  Guys would just say they were being boys…but I did not like the level things seemed to be going to.  A couple of times at the dog park my wheaten male would get jealous of the smaller more socialized male.  He would pull him away from the other dogs…if the smaller one didn’t come, he would escalate his aggression.  I started anticipating it and throwing myself in between them before they got out of hand…

At day care, when they were 7 months old, this type of behavior was going on, but they daycare people didn’t recognize what was happening until one day an actual fight started.  This time my large guy came home with a hole in his face under his eye that cost $200.00 to fix.  My vet recommended neutering them.  I set an appointment for next month (nov. 14)  to neuter them both.  The daycare would not take them back until they were fixed.  I am now really getting concerned and starting to do research on siblings.  The large male (125pounds) now starts climbing on my bed to sleep at night.  I think it is cute and sweet.  I try to get the smaller male up too.but he won’t come up there for some reason.  He stays on the floor by the bed.  One night he is playing with one of the stuffies  and the big guy starts to stare at him and all hell breaks loose in my bedroom!  I cannot get them stopped.  At one point the little guy (95 pounds) breaks free and I grab him and start running for the door.  I shut the door and hold him as he whimpers and shakes holding up his hurt leg. It takes me about 15 minutes per dog to get them calmed down. I go downstairs and sob.  

Now I am on constant vigilance trying to watch the body language. I do ok for a couple of nights. But then the large one climbs up on the couch next to me and the little one walks over …the worst fight ever breaks out. I run to the kitchen and grab a bucket of water…run to the living room and throw it on them. They instantly stop and look at me like I have lost my mind.  The little ones foot is bleeding.  I grab the big one and run him upstairs to lock him in my bedroom.  Blood all over my carpet, a shaking whimpering dog, a soaking wet living room.  Defeat.

Everyone keeps telling me if I neuter them it will stop. I can tell by your information that you do not believe this to be true.  I have spent several thousand dollars on trying to make life safe and wonderful for these dogs. They eat Eagle Pack and Merricks. They take probiotics and msm. They are gorgeous. And the both love me. We were going to start formalized training in December (budgeted for then).

Help me make the right decision.  If I can do something to make it right for them to stay with me I will do it.  If I can’t, and they are at risk, help me know how to choose between two amazing dogs. I really respect your wisdom. Could you help me with this decision?

Carol


Question:

Hello, wondering if you could shed some light on my situation with my 5mo old German Shepherd. 

Daddy GSD lives across the street from me.  Mommy and Auntie GSD and Alpha male GSD all live in a house down the street from me.  Mommy and Daddy made babies and I got one.

Almost every day, the three-pack come on my yard as if to stalk my dog.  Last night Mommy even got right up to the front porch barking as if to call my dog outside, usually my dog will bark them off when they come but this time she was inside!  As this was happening, Alpha male GSD stood in the back watching and even Daddy came out of his yard and watched from across the street.  Typically one or two will come from the front and then one sneaks from the backyard.

What is going on? Should I take any precautions, are they wanting to hurt her? Do they want her to join their pack? Territorial? 

Any insight I would greatly appreciate.  Thank you!

Tara

Answer:

It sounds like predatory behavior to me, I would be telling the owners of the other dogs to keep them home.  I would chase them off every time I saw them and I absolutely would be protecting my puppy from them.

Without seeing them, it’s hard to say what is going on for sure but I would not take any chances.  It only takes one mistake to ruin a puppy for life.



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