Alpha issues??

Posted by kermiy
Nov 27, 2009
We have recently rescued a 5 year old german shep cross rough collie called Tilly ( 3 weeks now) we also have a a very chilled out 4 year german shep cross husky called Joey also resuced 1,5years ago. Tilly straight away showed she was going to be the dominant one which is fine but we are unsure if she thinks we are Alpha to her?? We had read the "How to become Alpha" and have done everything (eat first, walk through doors first) but she still paws us and tries to use her nose to make us stroke her. How will we know when we are the alpha?
She also corners Joey sometimes and won't let him pass in the house so he stands looking away from her, even if he moves his head she snarls at him and he can sometimes stand for ages....i havn't intervened yet but it breaks my heart when Joey can't come into the living room and sit with us.
Lastly whenever i take them out on the lead they are great until we meet other dogs and they become different dogs because they are big they look scary and very angry barking, snarling, up on their back legs and even have a go at each other. Is there anything i can do...I try and walk away from the other dogs or get them to sit but it doesn't work.....Help. x
Posted by My-Dog-Cash
Nov 27, 2009

I think that at this stage Tilly is attempting to take on the Alpha role. She might not be comfortable in the home yet, but I think you need to intervene inmmediately, especially with the "cornering" of Joey. In your home you need to be the one making decisions about who can go where, not Tilly. The more that you allow Tilly to behave in such a manner the worse it will get. As far as the pawing and pushing with her nose, she is trying to be dominant by controlling you, though it is very cute and endearing. Make her do something before you pet her, like sit, or lie down, so that she realizes when she sits nice she gets petted.

Continue to practice the alpha stuff, and start intervening in her controlling behaviours, she needs to know that you manage the household and the family members, she doesn't. As far as the difficulty on walks goes, it can be more complicated, requiring a lot of time and patience. You need to be able to provide positive encounters with other dogs. This may mean setting up encounters with other dog owners you know, so that you can take the time to calm your dogs, then allow them to meet. And I would try working with them separately to see if that effects their behaviour on walks. (if you haven't already.)

Hope things start to turn around, be patient and assertive.
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Nov 28, 2009
Hi kermiy,

Thank you for rescueing dogs. I have 3 dogs that were all rescued at different times and I often foster dogs to find homes for them.

One thing I would recommend when you add a new dog, is not to let the new dog to be dominant to your old dog. It doesn't matter how big the new dog is or how dominant he/she is. YOU are the pack leader so their ranks are determined by YOU. You can actually manupilate where each dog stands at.

Especially when you only have 2 dogs, you should be able to favor your old dog to the new one. The reason is the old dog has been with you for a longer time (1.5 yrs) and he knows all the house rules and boundaries. He has been enjoying being a part of your family, while your new rescued dog hasn't have her home for a long time. She has to accept what she gets. He shouldn't have to sacrifice his freedom of walking around the house.

Once you have given your new dog too much of her way, it will be hard to take it back. That's why start with stricter rules for her. For example, if you let your old dog on the couch, don't let the new one on it, or don't let her in a certain room while you let the old one in. Then, gradually give her more status as she settles in your pack. She should earn the previledge.

It might sound mean and you might think the new dog deserves everything you old dog gets. It is common that people become too nice to rescued dogs feeling sorry for them and eventually spoil them to the point they are out of control. The beginning is very important and it is good for your new dog to learn the rules and boundaries from the very beginning.

As for pawing you and using her nose to ask for more strokes, it doen't necessarily mean "being Alpha". Some dogs just love to be petted and they just keep asking for more strokes because they feel more secured by being petted. One of my dogs is like that and he made us spill our coffe by nudging our hand so many times! He is definitely not an Alpha dog and he is very obedient. I think you should give her pet whenever you can but you should end it when you feel like to, not when she says "that's enough"

Good luck
Posted by kjd
Nov 28, 2009
Thanks, MaxHollyNoah!
Sunna is a poker for pets too and I've felt a bit guilty loving her up every time she comes. I do TRY to remember to ask her to sit before I pet her, but I often forget. I agree that the old dog should rank above the new dog. Later, you might be willing to let Tilly outrank Joey, but, right now, she is deciding the rank order, not you.
Give Joey an extra hug -- sounds as if he needs one.
Posted by kermiy
Dec 11, 2009
Thank you so much for replying to my problem above....i'm now a little confused though.
I have read in several places that you shouldn't intervene in pack postions (other than you being the alpha) Joey shows no signs of being dominant, he is far to chilled out to care. Tilly on the otherhand shows strongs signs of dominance so trying to make Joey the dominant out of the two would never work??? We are enforcing all Alpha signals to the two dogs so they know who is boss but Tilly is still cornering Joey, this morning she wouldn't let him pass in the hall way, when i called him he just looked so worried and turned's heart breaking. My husband tried to force Joey to pass which resulted in Tilly snapping at Joey and Joey was all teeth but it was horrible to see. We are trying to tell Tilly off when she does it but i don't think she understands why she is getting told are we meant to stop her? They get on fine when we are out, and you can see the bond growing. When i take Joey out seperatly Tilly can't wait to great Joey when he comes back......what do i do?? Im so scared of them hurting each other.
Posted by crazycrayonmom
Dec 11, 2009
Tilly can still be the alpha dog but what she's doing is more like nervous protection. I would definitely get in between Tilly and your first dog when Tilly is cornering him. It would be best if you could head it off before it gets to the "teeth" stage by watching for the early signs in Tilly. To get Tilly to back off stand between the two dogs and use your body as a block, tell Tilly "no" and use some command to back her away using your body as a moving wall. She needs to understand that protecting areas of the house is your job, not hers. I have to agree with Max/Holly/Noah. I have also had a pack of dogs (once we had 4 at one time). The dogs did choose their pack order up to a point. They have to know that you are the Alpha at all times though. If you tell them to knock off a behavior they need to knock it off immediately.

Good luck and remember it takes a new dog time to really settle in and be comfortable.
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Dec 12, 2009
Hi kermiy,

I am sorry to hear that Joey got cornered and attacked by Tilly again.
I agree with crazycrayonmom about catching Tilly before she actually corners him and hurt him. You, as the leader, should be able to prevent Tilly's attack by just shouting "Hey!". When you get her attention, tell her to be nice to Joey, by grabbing her collar and looking into her eyes. By repeating this a few times, she should be able to learn that her behavior is not acceptable by you.

Then, you can tell her to "Be nice" when she is about to get in Joey's way. You can physically move Tilly out of his way and let Joey go in front of her eyes. Pretty soon, you won't have to physically reprimand her but you can just remind her verbally of appropriate behaviors towards Joey.

When she behaves poorly, reprimand her and make her sit/stay. Go to Joey and comfort him and give him a treat/attention. Don't give Tilly any treat. Have her see the contrast and make her realize she should be nice to Joey in order to get your attention.

By boosting up Joey's position and pulling Tilly down from her dominant position, you will be eventually manupulating their ranks, which is what you need to do to keep the harmony between them.

Let us know how it goes.