6 year old dog agression problems

Posted by Meliae
Jun 16, 2008
I moved out of my parents house two years ago to attend university. They have a male dog named Chimo who is a husky/german shepard/beagle mix whom I absolutely adore. We got him when he was about 8 months old from a shelter so we were unable to train him at the ideal age. He was pretty well behaved at the beginning except for some separation anxiety when we left, but he got over that quickly.

I used to take him to a big leash free park when he was younger and he loved it, and he played with all of the other dogs that were there. But the problem is, now that he's getting older his aggression towards other dogs is worsening. I started noticing it at the leash free when a strange dog would come to greet me and when I went to pet it Chimo would run over from where ever he was and get right in between the other dog and I. Then it got to the point where he would get into fights with dogs, especially if they were coming in my direction. So in the end, I had to stop taking him there out of fear of something terrible happening to him or another dog.

A while ago my dad was walking him and he bent down to fix his gentle leader, because he noticed it wasn't on right, and Chimo slipped out of his hands and ran across the street to attack a puppy. We had to pay the vet bill and luckily the puppy was fine, but this was a scary situation!

When I take Chimo out with my friend and her standard poodle female dog they get along great, they seem very much in love. I can't understand why he gets along with her and not other dogs.

The other MAJOR issue I have here is that, since moving away to school I missed having a dog in my life (as I've always had one around for my whole life) so I adopted a puppy 3 weeks ago. Her name is Meliae and she just turned 3 months. She is SO well behaved as I have been doing a lot of training with her, especially since I purchased SitStayFetch. I am going to visit my parents in a couple of days and I am bringing my pup with me but I am terribly worried that Chimo is not going to approve of her because he's used to being the only dog in the family. Meliae is a yorkie-pomeranian so she will only be about 5 pounds at maturity (she's about 3 right now) and Chimo is about 55 pounds of pure muscle.

Small dogs seem to like him but he acts like he wants to hunt them like he would a rabbit. So I am really worried about bringing my puppy to my parents house and introducing them.

I need some help as to how to approach this situation!!! PLEASE!
Posted by KOPsRobyn
Feb 4, 2010
Hi there

It seems as though Chimo has taken over as alpha dog at your parents’ house, therefore he feels he has to protect ‘his’ pack from the possible threat that other dogs pose. As dogs get older, especially during the adolescent stage, they will often challenge dogs above them in the hierarchy for their place in the pack. So although this is common, it is important to sort this out as soon as possible before the aggression escalates.

Aggression in dogs most commonly is due to inadequate socialization with other dogs when they were younger. As you don't know the history of Chimo, it is highly likely that he has not had much with other dogs in the past, and so doesn't know how to behave with them. It is very hard to try to socialize them once they have past that window of opportunity that was there when there were puppies, but there are ways to prevent him from getting into any dog fights.

Firstly, it is a good idea to get him neutered if possible, as this will lower his testosterone levels and hopefully make him less aggressive.

There are a few things that you can incorporate into your daily routine to re-establish yourself as the alpha dog. These include insisting that you walk ahead of him through doorways and when walking on the leash, and feeding him after you have finished your own meal. You must ignore him if he comes up to you for attention, as he has to learn that attention from you is earned and not just given out whenever he wants it. Before you pat him or play with him, give him a command, such as 'sit-stay' so that he will see that your attention is a reward for good behavior. This will act as an incentive for the future. If you are playing a game with him, make sure it is you that chooses the toy and when you decide that you have had enough, take the toy away with you so that he realizes that it is you that controls playtime. When you first come home, you should greet the rest of the household first before saying hello to him, which will help him realize his place in the hierarchy. All these things can be incorporated relatively easily into your normal daily routine, although it will require some patience and perseverance from you. He may struggle initially as he sees himself as the alpha dog and therefore being in the submissive position to you, who he sees as a subordinate, is distressing. Soon, though, he will settle into his new place in the hierarchy and should become a more relaxed dog, as he has been relieved of the stressful role of protector.

You should also start to use the ‘time-out’ rule for when he misbehaves. This should be an area that is be quiet and free of distractions, away from other people and dogs so that he can be left completely alone. You should take him by the collar and lead him away to there if he has been naughty, but it is important to remember not to speak to him or make eye contact when taking him away, so that he is getting absolutely no attention from anyone at all. Leave him there until he calms down and then make him obey a command, such as 'sit-stay', before releasing him from the 'time-out zone'. If he misbehaves again, do exactly the same. He will soon learn that that is not the way to get your attention, in fact it will lead to complete isolation instead, which is not what he wants.

It is also a good idea to set aside some time each day for a bit of general obedience training, which will not only improve his obedience levels but also the relationship between you.

When you go to stay with Meliae, it would be wise to be very careful about leaving the two together by themselves initially, because like you said, Chimo is significantly bigger than Meliae, and he will not be used to having another dog share the house. However, if he accepts that you and your parents are the alpha dogs, and you are patient and take introductions slowly and gradually, never rushing or making them feel pushed, there is no reason why they too should not get along and become good friends in the future.

I hope this helps and all the best with the training!