Where do I start - obedience training or establish alpha?

Posted by AmysPets
Jul 2, 2008
I have 2 rescued dogs (labrador mixes), the older one is the alpha in the relationship. They exhibit a lot of problem behaviors and definitely need some work, which I am willing to do. Recently the younger (non-alpha) dog ran off our property (she was off-leash) to a small dog that was being walked on a leash and proceeded to try to kill it. It looked like she was attacking prey like a rabbit or something. I tackled her and got her away, not before she inflicted a bite wound. My other dog was right behind her and would have happily joined in if I hadn't stopped it. This was the first time I have ever witnessed our usually very submissive dog attack viciously. Why would she do this? They are both aggressive while being walked on leashes toward strange dogs. I would like to get control over these dogs so I don't have this happen again. They also are not trained to come on recall, so I need to do that. Is it possible to trust this dog off leash even after a lot of recall training?

What would you recommend for my first step - ignoring them both for 48 hours, then starting basic commands? I am just beginning to read the training book. Thanks in advance.
Posted by Todd
Jul 15, 2008
Hi there and thanks for the post.

I am sorry to hear about the aggression issues and i will do my best to help wven though my reply has been late.

I think the 48 hour ignore would be a good place to start as well as the obedience work. I would hold off walking them around the neighbourhood until you have had a couple of weeks working on the obedience.

The other major thing to keep on top of is the alpha training. Remember that keeping your dogs realising where there place is in the household is one of the best ways to stop any aggression issues.
Make sure that the dogs follow things like eating last, not blocking your way or making you move around them, as well as ignoring them for 10-15 minutes once you get home.

Now like a lot of aggression to strangers as well as new dogs we need to resocialise both dogs so they are not fearful of strange and new things.

The best way to resocialise them is to gradually introduce them to things the are aggressive to in a quiet and non-threatening situation. This is why your yard is the best place to start and then move out of their territory to the streets and parks.

So start with a dog that both dogs have met before but don't spend a lot of time around. If the dogs are worse with strangers then start with them and work on the dog issues later.

If you have a yard start work then or otherwise use the lounge.

1) Get your "strange" dog into the yard or lounge. Make sure they are on a lead so that your friend can keep them under control why you focus on your dog.

2) Have the two dogs separated by around 5 metres and sitting.

3) Your dog can approach the other dog one step at a time. Before he can take a step forward he must be sitting and listening to your commands.

4) On the first few sessions don't let the dogs meet so that they can get used to each other for a while

5) After a few sessions let the dogs interact whilst both on the lead. Don't allow any rough play at all. After a few sessions of this let the other dog off but keep yours on the lead.

Once your dog has mastered behaving nicely with one strange dog slowly try more and more other dogs. Remember to praise well behaved dogs that listen and aren't aggressive.

If your dog gets aggressive no matter how minor or major, whether it be a bark, snarl, lunge or snapping they need to be told off straight away. A loud GRRRR or AHHHHH as well as a squirt with a water pistol is the best way to make sure your dog learns not to be aggressive.

After your dogs have learned to behave with strange dogs on your property move to the pavement. In essence you follow the same process. The other dog must approach while your dog is sitting and being well behaved. Again if he gets aggressive tell him off and praise relaxed behaviour.
If things get too hard to deal with then leave in the other direction while telling your dog off.

With slow introductions move towards dog parks and other areas where they will get heaps of attention from other dogs.

The same general process can be used with strangers. Work with the girl to start with and if the boy is well behaved then only work a few times a week with him. He sounds like he will follow the girls lead so if she is well behaved then he will follow.

If you are worried that she may get over aggressive and may bite someone then make sure you use a muzzle when she is out.

Good luck with her and please let me know if i can help anymore or if you have any issues and i will endeavour to help