Changed Behaviour

Posted by Steve-Ineson
Jun 26, 2008
I have 4 Golden Retrievers, sadly we lost one (Eddison)
about 12 months ago and the nature of the second eldest (Elliot) has changed dramatically. He was always easy going and mixed with other dogs with no problems. Now he is no problem with the rest of the dogs in our household, and we have introduced a further dog to the group since we lost the Eddison but if he meets dogs whilst out on the lead he is very aggressive towards them and winds the others up also. If I take the rest out without him then they are fine with other dogs. I feel certain it is a dominance issue but how do I approach it?
Posted by Todd
Jul 15, 2008
Hi there and thanks for the post.

Changes in households especially where strong bonds have formed over a long time can cause a lot of stress to animals. This sounds like this has happened to Elliot and he has changed his behaviour because of this.

Now it may be that he needs some time to get over this issue.
I think using a product like DAP may help stop him from being a little stressed and snapping out. The spray may be better for out on walks while you can use the diffuser in areas of the house that stress him out.

We can try a few things to get him under control and reduce his aggression while out walking.

Firstly make sure you have the alpha training issue under control, both for Elliot and the other dogs.

First of all like with any aggression issues he needs to learn he is not the head of the pack. Ellio needs to be at the bottom of the pack and trust me he will be a much happier dog for it. We don't want to man-handle him to the bottom of the pack but just slowly make him realise that it is you that provides for him.

So here are a few steps to help -
1) Elliot and all the other dogs in the family should be fed last and never from the table

2) When you arrive home wait 10-15 minutes until the dogs have calmed down before you give them any attention

3) If Elliot or any of the other dogs are lying in the hallway make them move out of the way. Stepping over or around them only lets them know that they are boss. If he is being aggressive then leaving a lead on him will make it very easy for you to move him safetly.

4) All of your dogs should wait until you have walked through a doorway before they can. You can even practice this by putting them on the lead and walking them around the house!

The next major thing to work on is the dog's obedience especially elliot. Work with him for 10 minutes twice a day on the commands of sit, stay and come. You can also walk him around the yard and practice heel. Use a quiet area so the he won't get too distracted

Now to the issues on the lead.
I think for the next few weeks we just take elliot out on his own for walks (you can take the rest of the team out together). Start walking him in quiet areas where he is unlikely to meet any other dogs. Make sure he is heeling well and following your commands when you are out on these walks.

Regularly stop him and make him sit and wait for a few moments before continuing.

Now move to areas where he will meet other dogs. As a dog approaches make him sit and wait. If he gets aggressive he needs to be told off straight away. Use a loud grrrr or ahhhhh as well as a tug on the lead. Then ask him to sit and wait.

As the dog approaches make sure to reprimand him whenever he is aggressive or doesn't sit and wait.If he behaves and cooperates then praise him with attention and petting so he knows he is doing well.

If he gets too much you need to take him away from the situation.

Now once he masters quiet areas move to more and more built up areas so he meets more dogs.

After he is well behaved by himself introduce more and more of your dogs to the walk. Add one dog a week while still making sure they are obedient and responding to your commands.

Take it slow and i am sure you will get him to be under control and not wind the others up. Good luck and please get in touch if you need more help

Posted by Steve-Ineson
Jul 16, 2008
Many thanks, I will let you know