Agression to other dogs in the house

Posted by Clifford
Jul 12, 2008
Clifford is a 3 y/o English Cocker---he has suddenly become aggressive (snarling, nipping, growling, possessive of space) towards the other two dogs (small dogs) in the house. It seems that he is protective of me?
His lab work form the vet all came back normal. How can I stop this behavior! I need help!
Posted by KOPsRobyn
Jan 23, 2010
Hi there

You are spot on when you say that he is protective of you. He has taken over as the alpha dog in the house and so feels the need to protect you against all possible threats, of which in his eyes the other dogs are. To stop this behavior before the aggression gets any worse, you will need to re-establish yourself as leader of the pack. 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.
If he starts growling or snapping at the other dogs, take him by the collar and lead him away to a 'time-out zone'. Don't speak to him or make eye contact when taking him away, so that he is getting absolutely no attention from anyone 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. 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. By doing this, you are showing him that you, as the alpha dog, have full control of his movements and decide where he is going to be at each moment.

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

Once he is sure of his position lower in the hierarchy, he should not give the other dogs any more trouble. They will be lower than him in the pack order, but as long as they are comfortable with this and don’t challenge him for his place, there shouldn’t be any fights in the house. If they are attempting to push for a higher position, you will need to show them clearly that you determine the pack order and you have decided that Clifford is higher up in the hierarchy than they are. You can do this by always dealing with him first, such as when feeding, walking through doorways, playing with them or greeting them when you come home.

I hope this helps and all the best with the training!
Posted by KellyBurton
Jan 30, 2010
I have a female boxer who is a rescue, she was used for fighting and breeding before I took her in. I had her fixed and she is a great dog, her and my male boxer get along very well, after a brief period of her picking fights. Now 5 years later I have introduced a very beta dog to the house hold who is an unfixed female (she is going to the vet next week). My female is very aggressive and picking fights again. I have been separating them and isolating her when she picks a fight. I have two questions:

1. How long should it take to reeducate her that I am the ruler of the house? and she will not aggressive towards the new dog?

2. Will getting a muzzle help this situation to prevent her from biting the new dog?

She is very good with people, and the sweetest dog, I need to get her to behave.