Aggressive behavior to ONE person

Posted by poodlemom
Jun 15, 2008
Hello all,
I just joined your forum today in hopes I can find resolution to my issue.
I rescued a Apricot Std Poodle in Jan/08 from an abandon home. He was left to survive on his own. What is life was like before, I'm truly in the dark. He is a very sweet dog toward everyone who come to my house with the exception on one individual, the pet sitter. He is very aggressive towards her and has nipped her leg several times.

I wish finding a new sitter was the simply answer, but it is not. In additon to Lincoln I have 4 other dogs. 3 Std poodles and one Cocker Spaniel (also Rescued). This sitter has been taking care of all my animals for well over 1year and everyone loves her. In addition to my dogs she cares also for my 98 year old mother. I travel for as living, so am gone 4 days out of a week.

Not only does Lincoln display aggressive behavior toward her, he also marks my house up while I'm gone. The aggression for some unknown reason, is only toward Melissa. I've had UPS, Service men, garden people here, and he is fine.

All the dogs have access to a doggie door, so leaving Lincoln outside with the door down is not feasible. Plus he will not allow her to touch him, and will not go into is crate for her.

I've had him at a training facility for 2 weeks and I'm still scratching my head as to what they achieved. Bottom line, ymaintain there is no fix other then to board him at there facility, go figure.

I sure would like to hear from you all, as to what approach may work for this. I love this boy and have bonded with him more so then any of my other dogs. Not sure why, interesting.

Thanks for what ever help you can send my way
Posted by KOPsRobyn
Jan 29, 2010
Hi there,

It seems as though Lincoln has also become very attached to you, and so is quite distressed when Melissa comes to stay, whom he sees as having replaced you. It is possible that he may feel the need to take over as alpha dog when you are gone, and shoulder the responsibility of being the leader, protecting the pack against intruders. To overcome this, you will have to get Melissa to carry out some alpha dog training with him, so that he realizes that when you are gone, she is the top dog and needs to be obeyed. There are a few things that she could incorporate into her daily routine to help establish herself as the alpha dog. These include insisting that she walks ahead of him through doorways and when walking on the leash, and feeding him after she has finished her own meal. If she are playing a game with him, make sure it is she who chooses the toy and when she decides that she has had enough, take the toy away with her so that he realizes that it is she that controls playtime. When you first come home, you should greet her first before the rest of the dogs, which will help him realize his place in the hierarchy. All these things can be incorporated relatively easily into Melissa’s normal routine, although it will require some patience and perseverance from her. He may struggle initially as he sees himself as the alpha dog when you are not around, and therefore being in the submissive position to her, whom 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.

Initially, he may continue to nip at her to try to put her in her place, as he will see her as a challenger for his position in the pack. If he does this, Melissa should lead him away to a 'time-out zone' without speaking to him or making eye contact, so that he is getting absolutely no attention at all. This place should be quiet and free of distractions, away from other people and dogs so that he can be left completely alone. She should 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. In this way, she is not only telling him that biting is unacceptable, but also that she as leader controls his movement, which will reinforce to him his place below hers in the pack.

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