Dog to dog(s) aggression

Posted by kjj4me
Nov 5, 2009
We are on very good terms with our neighbors and when we first brought our two Labs to our road (we all live on acreage), the female Lab mix (Daphne) next door was friendly with our two Labs (male and female) and they played together, although Daphne was always a bit assertive with them with playing ball, etc. Daphne has been through training and knows her commands and does listen pretty well to humans-could they pull her off a rabbit? Maybe not.

Since that time, the grandparents of Daphne got a female rat terrier mix, Missy, who is not trained and the two of them have bonded. The family also had a baby about seven months ago. A little over a year ago, our male Lab, Max, and Daphne had a fight over food scraps at a party at their house. Then, they had fight over a kitten that Max was mothering (he still has one cat that is his "baby") and things have gone downhill since. About four months ago, Max followed me into their yard and was approaching where we were sitting with the baby, and Daphne jumped off of her porch and attacked him, resulting in pretty bad injuries for both dogs. Max is much larger than Daphne, but she is better at fighting. Since then, they have installed an electric fence to keep Daphne in, but she has started jumping the fence and has actually has come into our yard to try to attack Max and his sister. She does respond to humans, and so far, one of us has always been there to tell her no, and she goes back home. She is full on growling, hackles raised, and I have no doubt if we had not been present, she would have gone for Max. He is actually a very mellow dog, works at my partner's feed store as the greeter and takes care of the kittens.

We are going to build a physical fence between the two houses but all of us feel the situation is not a good one, especially since we have more than one young child in the area. Please give us more than "be alpha"-Daphne does respond to humans, but has gone overboard with the aggression towards other dogs. Max did taunt her by going near her boundary (he knew she couldn't cross)but hasn't done that lately. Now she is ignoring her electric fence and jumping it. The little dog Missy sometimes incites Daphne by barking at us (I am going to start spraying with water her since she isn't trained) but she wasn't even outside this last time. We really like our neighbors and would like it if the dogs could go back to playing together. We thought about muzzling them and letting them go at it?

Posted by LetsPlay
Nov 5, 2009
Hi there,

it sounds as though you will definitely need the help of the neighbors to fix this problem, so it is very lucky that you get on well with them.

It is always hard to make a diagnosis without actually being there and seeing the dogs interact, but from what I can gather it seems that Daphne is trying to protect Missy.
Especially if her aggression started when Missy came along.
I personally don't like electric fences at all and I think it would be a good idea to build a proper visible fence if you can.

I know you said that you don't want to hear about "Alpha Dog", but I really think that is the solution to most issues. If your dog accepts you as the leader they will always look at you for guidance on how to behave.
You make the call (or in this case your neighbors) make the call on whether Missy needs protecting or not, not the dog.

When I got my first pup I had some issues with her as she was very dominant. Once I started implementing the main rules of being the pack leader things changed overnight. Now I constanly have people commenting on what a great dog she is, people "fight" over having her when we are on vacation and she is simply great.

In your case it seems that Daphne is the issue and therefore your neighbors need to do most of the training.
The most powerful gestures that show that you are the leader are:
-control over food
-control over toys
-control over greetings
-control over the walks and generally being outside

Your neighbors should always eat before the dog, everyone in their family should including the baby. This should happen in full view of the dog with no one paying attention to Daphne.

Your neighbors should control the access Daphne has to toys and change them whenever they feel like. They should always remove the toy after a game and make sure that Daphne sees that they control it.

They should always ignore Daphne when "reuniting", they should never pet Daphne when she asks for it. She should sit or do another command before receiving attention.

Your neighbors should be in control of all walks, which means that they determine the direction and if the dog pulls one way out of habit they should make and effort to walk the other way.

Perhaps you should aks your neighbors if they are willing to really work on it.

I would definitley not let the dogs go for each other even with a muzzle, as it will be a very bad example. You will probably watching without interferring which sends a strong signal that you are okay with this sort of behavior.

I think in order to solve the problem you will need to do the following:

1. Your neighbors will need to be the pack leaders and Daphne needs to accept this.
2. Next they will need to establish Missy as higher up in the rank than Daphne
I know that a lot of people just let their dogs choose who is where, but in this case it is important to interfere as it is obviosly not working. Missy needs to sleep higher and get fed first. She needs to get attention before Daphne and if Daphne tries to dominate Missy Daphne needs to be removed and put in a time out. This will take some time, but might be the only way.

3. Once Daphne has accepted her rank you will need to re-introduce her to your dogs and establish an order. Try to avoid any contact between your dogs and Daphne while the training process is happening, otherwise it's a step backwards.

I hope that helps in the meantime, please let us know how you get on.

Posted by kjj4me
Nov 7, 2009
Thanks, I will pass this on this info. I should have phrased it a bit differently: I didn't just want to be told "be alpha and everything will be fine!". We do not typically walk our dogs, but rather play with them and they play on the acreage-there isn't a great place to walk them because of very aggressive dogs down the road from us. They chase each other around the property, too.

Missy and Daphne do not live together, the houses are on the same property and they usually only see each other outside. Missy is not allowed in Daphne's house because she isn't housebroken-her parents have not done training with her, she comes-or not-and gets cuddled a lot but no discipline. They have never had a dog before. Missy comes to our yard and barks at me and my dogs sometimes nonstop for 20 mins while I play ball with my dogs. I am not sure that Daphne's owners will have a way to establish Missy as alpha over Daphne, but ideas are welcome. I agree that Daphne is protecting Missy, but she comes after my dogs even when Missy isn't around.

Ta. Kathy