Multiple problems

Posted by Anne-Oc
May 18, 2011
Hi we have a 3.5 yo sterilized female kelpie cross whom we stupidly acquired from a pet shop at 6 weeks old already having a 14 yo female boarder collie t home who was not interested at the new arrival and growled when approached. The puppy was a bundle of energy from the start, undertook puppy preschool but around 10 weeks but spent much of the time under our chair in fear of the other dogs and started showing aggressive tendencies by growling at my husband & I at times, when approached or instructed to do something, and was fearful of certain objects in the house and of having a harness or halty put on. We consulted a dig trainer using treat based training we managed rather than overcame the problems. At 4.5 months we started obedience classes where she was very good when focused on the tasks but very easily distracted by other dogs and anxious and barking when we weren't working. At 12 months of age we started agility but had to stop as the excitement was too much as she would jump at and nip the more we ran with her and would snarl at other dogs when we were waiting out turn. We had also been taking her to the local park where she was initially OK with some dog but we ended up moving away and throwing a ball which she is very focused on and we just avoid other dogs. She barks incessantly in the car when setting out on journeys. She is too excited pulling on the lead to walk to the park so we drive. Other times she pulls initially on the lead then settles down. When she was about 13 mo are older dog passed away and in some ways, she settled a little in terms of excitement around people. But not so with other dogs where her aggressive behaviour has gotten worse in the past 2 years. No full on fights just snarling lunging and snapping until we call her away or remove her.

3 weeks ago we adopted a 5 month old sterilized male boarder collie kelpie cross puppy. We introduced them on lead at a neutral park and the 3.5 yo dog was stressed and very aggressive towards the puppy. By the end of a walk they were OK a few meters apart on lead but any closer the 3.5 yo was aggressive. The puppy was not put off he just wants to play. Over the past few weeks things are slowly improving. They can walk side by side on lead but are kept separately at home except when we are there to make sure the puppy doesn't go too close to the 3.5 yo dog. Her level of aggression towards him is reducing even when he gets close but we intervene before it escalates past the warning growl. The 3.5 yo dog goes to work with my husband. We have implemented the alpha training philosophy in the household (husband & I, no kids) and started random walking the 3.5 yo dog in the past 2 days, we also now get out of the car and wait for her to stopped barking before we drive off, or get her out of the car and wait for her to calm down before trying again. Likewise with putting on the harness. Already there are some signs of improvement. We continue to take both dogs on a daily parallel walk, take the puppy to the local park for his exercise and socialization needs and take the 3.5 yo dog separately to another park to throw the ball and avoid other dogs. The puppy is starting obedience classes today and we need to refresh training with the 3.5 yo but are reluctant to take her to a group class until we have the aggressive behaviour under control. We realize we should have addressed the 3.5 yo problems before getting another dog however we are not sure what to deal with first? Prior to getting the puppy we had started to go on a weekly dog group social walk with a dog trainer and have continued to do this taking the puppy along too. Or 3.5 dog is OK with a small group of dogs (6-10) when they are on lead despite the fact that these dogs also have social problems. [B]We would like to continue to the daily parallel walking with the 2 dogs but [B]should we wait until we have followed the alpha training for a few weeks so that the 3.5 yo dog clearly knows she is not the pack leader before we continue trying to get her to accept the puppy/B] off lead. And/or should we wait until the random walking training kicks on before doing any other on lead walking such as the daily parallel walking with the 2 dogs? I should note that in the past 3 weeks of daily lead walking which we previously avoided, the 3.5 yo has improved on lead and settles after the first 5-10 minutes of excitement. The puppy walks well on the lead by himself but when together tries to keep up with her. When this occurs we both stopped and wait then set off again.

As for dealing with 3.5 yo towards other dogs off lead, should we wait until we have managed to have our 2 dogs getting on before trying to address her problems at the park?
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
May 19, 2011
Hi Anne,

I felt exhausted as I read your posting You guys are doing great things to your dog and your puppy. I am sure you have realized that you didn't socialized the 3.5 yr old female dog so you are now trying not to make the same mistake with the puppy.

As you can see, new dogs get influenced a lot by existing dogs, good or bad. Please keep your puppy socialized by taking him to public places, trainings, dog parks, etc.

As for your older dog, I think parallel walks are great idea! It really works amazingly. I have a not-friendly dog called Noah and he almost always snaps at my foster dogs (especially same sex dogs) when I first brings them home. However, when I walk him and the foster dog together, he doesn't mind when the foster dog puts his nose into the same bush where he is sniffing. Sometimes the foster dog pushes and even jumps on Noah to sniff the bush but Noah doesn't pay much attention to that. If this happens at home, Noah definitely would snap at the foster dog. Parellel walks work because they are both facing same direction (not face to face) and each of them are preoccupied with other interesting smells and they are sharing the same interest. This is the best way to get used to each other

Your 3.5 yr old dog will need to learn to trust one dog at the time. Her lack of socialization makes her unstable and urges her to react to other dogs. Once she gets used to the puppy, it will be a good time to expose her to some confident dogs, one at the time. Just like you have been shorten the distance between her and the puppy on their parellel walks, start with a distance and praise her if she can just ignore the other dog. Giving her treats when other dogs are around is good too since she can associate being with other dogs with something good happening. Don't rush to the goal, instead take a lot of patience and time.

Obedience classes will benefit her if the instructor understands her issues and you can keep her under control during the class. Select a class where there is no other dogs with the same issues and don't attend a class with too many dogs. If you cannot find a good class, you can still do obedience training at home, with the puppy too, once the older dog gets comfortable with him. Please keep in mind that patience and consistency are the key of success. Good luck
Posted by KOPCaroline
May 19, 2011
Hey annie,

I'd have to agree with MHN's advice for the most part, there are really good ideas there!

As far as the order of training, try to do as much as you can now, so that both dogs get used to the way of things and how the house is going to function. Decide which dog is going to be dominant over the other one, and train them both that way - feed one first, give one toys first, greet one first. If you want it to be the puppy, be sure to tell the older dog "enough" if she expects to be first, since she's been there longer.

Start with alpha training your puppy asap. You dont want him starting to act up and becoming harder to train in the few weeks you'll spend working with your older girl.

I would strongly advise continuing with the social walks - with both your dogs! And parallel walking them in an excellent idea, you want them to get used to each other as soon as possible. Enrolling the two of them in the same class could help even more, if you can find a suitable one for your female.

I hope you continue making progress, please let us know how you go and if you have any more questions! Good luck!