Aggression Training with 3 dogs in the house

Posted by Dora-Tai-Coco
Mar 23, 2011
Hi, I just married and brought a greyhound into the family. She is extremely well behaved (through no fault of my own - she came to me that way). We have an afghan who is aggressive to people who enter the house. He has bitten 4 people, not to break skin, but large bruises (I was one of them on our first date). He was adopted a year ago, is 7 yrs old and has a history of abuse. We have a 2 yr old miniature poodle who listens to nothing (alpha). I was reading the chapter on Aggression in the Secrets to Dog Training ebook and came across the suggestion that to start the process of becoming alpha dog, you should completely ignore the dog for 48 hrs, except to take care of them. I'm worried about psychological ramifications. I think both of my husband's dogs suffer to some extent from separation anxiety. I'd also feel awful for my greyhound who has no issues. I think we'd have to do all dogs or we'd create jealousy. Does anyone have any insight or suggestions?
Posted by kjd
Mar 23, 2011
Hi, Dora,

Sounds as if you have a couple of problems. It would help to find out the relationships your dogs have with one another and with you and with your husband. If you pet one dog, do the others push their way in? Does the afghan listen to you better than your husband? Is the poodle resource-aggressive?

Have any of them had obedience training?

What do you mean by "does anything he wants"? Does the poodle steal food, poop and pee in the house, tear up the mail, bite anyone who enters, run out the front door whenever it opens, chew up the furniture?

Does the afghan like down and stay when you want him to? Is biting his only bad trait? It is useful to build on good habits to eliminate the bad ones.

OK, that's a lot of questions to start.

Posted by Dora-Tai-Coco
Mar 30, 2011
Hi kjd, Thanks for getting back to me. The miniature poodle (Coco) is the alpha dog, however I read that the one who is the most disruptive is usually not the alpha dog; the quiet one who is confident of their position in the pack is. So Coco is anything but quiet. I can't pet my greyhound, Dora, and sometimes the afghan, Tai, without her growling and butting in. She also attacks for food and once went for Dora's throat. Tai and Coco are friends. Dora and Tai are friends and I think Dora is dominant over Tai - she growls at him when he invades her space. But Tai growls at her when they are running outside and she gets too close. But neither are jealous of attention or food. As for training, we are trying. Tai is very stubborn and will try anything in the book (like being cute) and taking his time in order to avoid a command. Coco knows how to do everything but this doesn't stop her from misbehaving. I think she does it on purpose because she knows she'll get a command and treat. I'm doing formal obedience classes with her. Her main behavior that we have trouble with is how she treats the dogs. She bites at our feet when we enter the door. The dogs are fenced into the kitchen/ family room area, so we don't have trouble with them trying to escape, though she used to. She does pee and poo everywhere, but she was paper trained as a puppy and is a small dog who can't hold it, but she does go outside of the paper sometimes. She has bitten me to draw blood twice, once when I tried to get her toy and another time I tried to get her halter off. I'm hoping all of her behavior issues will be solved with obedience training, but I think we have to do the alpha dog training. Her behavior will get out of control if we try ignoring her. She definitely has separation anxiety. We tried a trainer coming to our house to work with Tai, but didn't really get anywhere. He does eventually obey except when there are distractions. The trainer didn't get so close that Tai would get agitated. He definitely needs work on obedience training but it is very slow going. I heard that his breed is at the bottom of the list for trainability. So I was hoping alpha dog training would help with him too, but don't want to ignore him because I'm afraid that would damage our relationship considering his abusive history.
Posted by KOPCaroline
Apr 3, 2011
Hey there,

What a handful! Its definitely stressful combining two dog households, but patience, time, and constant training usually solve most problems people come across.

It sounds like you and Dora have a great relationship. Try and get your husband to work with her more as well, so that Tai and Coco see her being handled by "their owner" just as much as they are.

I would definitely do alpha training with the whole crew in the new house (you and your husband are over EVERYONE!), but especially focus on Coco. Make sure you do things like eat your dinner first and eat in front of Coco, take his toys from him and if he reacts badly, he gets put outside immediately. Go through doorways ahead of him. Make him wait for food, wait for attention, etc. Be stern, and be consistant. Repetition is one of the keys to training a dog, they need to be disciplined for exactly the same thing in the same way, and the same goes for rewards.

Keep on with the obedience training. It should help both Coco and Tai heaps. I think Tai just needs to continually be exposed to new people and dogs and experiences. Praise him lots when he's calm, and immediately remove him from the situation when he gets aggressive, telling him "no" (or otherwise).

Overall, multi dog households usually figure out their own dog hierarchy on their own, and I think thats what your group is doing when Tai growls at Dora during play, or when Dora similarly tells Tai off. Coco tells everyone off at the moment for getting close to you and that should come to a stop (remove him from the room or tell him no and have him sit, that sort of thing). It may sound very mean when they growl and carry on at each other, but generally they are sorting themselves out and wont do each other serious damage.

Alpha and obedience should help most of your worries, though they are all going to take some time. I hope my comments make sense :S Please keep us updated on your house!
Posted by Dora-Tai-Coco
Apr 7, 2011
Thank you so much. I will have to practice patience. And I'll copy your response to my husband. Thanks again.