dominance issues

Posted by kidunotgoatsyahoocom
Jan 4, 2012
I have an Anatolian -2 yrs who joined us at 6 mo. old. and a 6? yr. Border Collie born on my place. Both female. I made a mistake early on by allowing the AS to be rude to the BC racing at her, jumping over her, pawing her trying to get her to play the second day they met. The AS at 70 pounds was already intimidating to a 40 lb. BC plus she ignored the BC obvious signals to leave her alone. I got control over the As but the damage was done the BC didn't want anything to do with her. I bought a bed for the BC and gave her a 'safe' place to go, insisting the AS leave her alone when she is in it. This has helped.
1.5 yrs later this is the situation. Once outside and once inside the AS has attacked the BC grabbing her by the head and holding her down. I intervened as a neighbors German Shepherd had come on my place and attacked my BC inflicting major wounds on her head prior to my getting the AS. Inside my AS will play fetch with me. During these sessions I have my BC get on her bed and she is suppose to stay. My BC does not like rawhides, toys, balls, playing fetch, etc. She lives to herd, eat and get attention from me. However, she can't stand it when I play fetch with the AS. As a puppy she used to run after her mom when we played fetch and occasionally she would grab the toy to bring to me for the attention but she wasn't aggressive like now. Today she growls and intercepts the AS snapping and sometimes biting her. I send her back to her bed where she growls and bark while we play. I have attempted to get her to play without the AS but she will not. The AS does not fight back, she will stop and wait until the BC is back on her bed to bring the toy to me. Sometimes the AS will pick up a toy and offer it to the BC or try to get her to play with her even when I am not involved. If the AS is stretched out sleeping I can call the BC to me and sometimes she passes the AS to come other times she starts to but backs off. The times I insisted and she came on the AS suddenly jumped up and threaten the BC until she was back on her bed. I have attempted to detect any 'signs' from the AS that this going to occur when the BC doesn't want to pass her but I am missing it. Sometimes the BC will go up to the AS and place her paws on her shoulders and press down on her and the AS allows it.
Outside the AS mostly ignores the BC but the BC will often chase her and growl and bite at her. Once the AS turned on the BC and disciplined her. It didn't stop the behavior.
To me it seems they haven't totally settle the dominance factor.
What I do: Inside I send the offender to bed or place in a sit or downstay. Outside I redirect by placing the offender in a sitstay. I may have to do that several times in a row to stop the immediate behavior. Sometimes I have to redirect both dogs.
Another thing the BC is food aggressive to the AS. I feed them apart. If the AS finishes first she goes to the BCs bed to check it out, apparently not afraid of her. I make her leave the BC alone. With both dogs I can remove food or other items from their mouth without any problems.
1. The AS could easily kill the BC. Have I made the problem worse by interceding when the AS attacked the BC?
2. Who is the dominate one?
Since the AS is the bigger dog and has attacked the BC twice I established feeding the AS first and allowing the AS to go ahead of the BC first and get attention from me first. Is this a mistake on my part?
3. What else can I do to allow the dominate one to become established.
My BC has never been a very vocal dog. I have noticed increased vocalization from her. She is beside herself dancing, whining and even an occasional woowoo or wolf when she is waiting to be fed and if I am playing with the AS. Is this a precurser to additional dominance issues? I have notice this last week that most of the Christmas toys the AS received have squeakers. The BC really gets upset when the AS squeaks her toys.
Sorry this is so long. I appreciate any insights I am missing here.
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Jan 5, 2012
Hi Annette,

I wrote this in the past but I cannot find it so I am going to repeat my idea of having a pack of animals in a harmony.

Basically, I make a pecking order based on the seniority (not by ages but how long they have been living with us). My policy is that you don't want to add a new dog (cat) to make the existing ones threatened or feel left out or jealous.

I would have suggested you treated BC as the top dog when you added AS if it was just a few weeks after you got the AS puppy but it has been 1.5 yrs so I don't know what to say

If you have established your position as the leader, there is no need among your dogs to fight for the dominant position because YOU can contro them and sort them out. I have been fostering dogs for the last 4 years and every time I bring in a new foster dog I place it at the bottom of the pack regardless of his/her personality or size. Most of the times, dogs are smart enough to figure out his/her position. Only 2 dogs I had to return since they didn't read my dogs body languages and kept challenging them.

I don't know if this will work in your case but if I were you, I will try to re-establish your BC's confidence and her position as the first dog by doing this.

I treat her first, feeding her, cuddling with me, walking her, everything. I would even give a lawhide or bone to her and make AS wait for a while. Then, take the lawhide or bone back from BC and give it to AS. Then, get it back and give it to BC. Repeat this every day so that AS will accept that she will be the second and she needs to share everything with her big sister (not the size but by the seniority).

If you think it's worth to try let us know how it goes
Posted by KOPCaroline
Jan 9, 2012
Hey Annette,

Sounds like a bit of a headache! Hopefully we can sort it out enough that you can worry less about your dogs.

I will say I'd consider it unlikely that your AS would do serious life threatening damage to your BC at this stage - while they are a bit unhappy with each other, dogs won't usually go for hardout fighting in situations where they've already been living together so long. And most dog fights sound and look much worse to us as humans.

Try to keep yourself calm when the two dogs are interacting - no matter what mood they are in (happy, agitated, anything). Both of them will sense it if you are nervous and anxious in the room, and it will affect their moods too, making them more aggressive and anxious as well. So anytime the three of you are together try to keep saying "good dogs" "good girl" etc etc in happy, soft tones to try and relax the atmosphere

I definitely think you need to choose one dog to be the definite "alpha" of the two - it makes more sense to me that it would be your BC, because she was there first, but the decision is yours and the ultimate thing is to stick to it. As MHN said, the dominant dog is fed first, given attention first, toys first, treats first, spoken to first, etc. When fights break out - remove the nondominant dog, even if they started it. The subordinate dog needs to understand where they are in the pecking order, so to speak. Its not about which dog is loved more or given more of anything - they both get equal everything - its just about the order in which they recieve anything (dominant dog always first).

I would use this idea in situations like you described with the BC trying to move past the AS - remove the AS (or whichever you decide is subordinate) if any bad behaviour happens.

I hope this is understandable - let us know how you get on, and if any progress is made. I'll warn you it will likely take a lot of repetition, patience, and time - but I'm sure if you stick with it you'll see a change. Good luck!
Posted by kidunotgoatsyahoocom
Jan 10, 2012
Initially I tried to allow the dogs to settle which one of them was going to be dominate. I only began to take steps recently to make the AS dominate ( feed first, etc. after she attacked the BC as she drew blood both times. Both dogs view me as their leader although the AS will occasionally challenge that in the form of ignoring me when I tell her to do something neccessitating correction on my part. Honestly I think the reason the AS rarely response to the BC aggression is because I have made it clear she is to be nice. I continue to correct the BC for her aggression but I don't think this is settled in her mind. If I encourage the BC to be dominate I am afraid I will end up with her severly injured if not dead since the AS has drawn blood each time. Is this wrong thinking on my part? Am I setting the BC up to be attacked?
Posted by kidunotgoatsyahoocom
Jan 10, 2012
My BC doesn't like rawhides or toys. She isn't even fond of Bullysticks, she will eat one occasionally. I have recently found one treat that takes a while (maybe 10 min.) for her to eat but she doesn't always want to consume it immediately. Last week she hid it in a plastic grocery sack I had on the floor. Of course the AS found it. I removed it from the AS mouth as she already had her treat and gave it back to the BC. Last night the AS stole the treat from the BC bed. Again I took the treat from the AS mouth and traded her a different treat and gave that one back to the BC. Each time within a few minutes the BC began to eat her treat and the AS did not attempt to take it again.
I spend time with the BC in the house without the AS and outside with the AS inside or tied up. I also will have them sit on each side of me and pet them both at the same time. Since the BC is so aggressive when it comes to me playing fetch with the AS I am thinking she is going to have to go outside while I play with the AS. I have tried taking short breaks with the AS and calling the BC to me for attention as a reward for staying on her bed and not attacking. It doesn't seem to be working.
I will say I think there has been an improvement outside. The BC doesn't try to attack the AS as much but I think it is because I keep the AS on a lead all the time now when outside.
If the AS had not drawn blood both times she attacked the BC and if the BC was 'fair' in her treatment of the AS I think having the BC as dominate would work. I am not sure about reversing course at this point. Do you think that will confuse them all the more?
Posted by kidunotgoatsyahoocom
Jan 10, 2012
KOPCaroline. I will say that I am pretty laid back. I don't get uptight or anxious with my dogs interactions. Even when my AS attacked my BS I didn't panic. I simply walked up to her and made her let go. I agree that dogs tend to be more noisy than really vicious when fighting, however the AS drew blood both times. Really the BS provokes her. I have seen the hair go up on my AS neck/back and then the AS will walk away. I think she controls herself because as their leader I have made it clear I don't want them fighting. My BC doesn't seem to have the same control. She 'forgets' herself and snaps and bites the AS.
I am wondering if maybe I should put a line on the BC and leave it on so I can correct from a distance. When my BC is herding she often gets so excited she trys to do things her way and ignores my commands. I have been working on her away from the goats to stop and look at me and wait for my next command. Then we try it outside without the goats and then with goats. She does well for a bit then 'forgets' herself again and I have to have her break off and stop for a while. She is very impulsive and I blame myself that I haven't figured out how to get her to have more control. Any ideas?
Sorry if this posted twice, I am still trying to figure out how it works.
I appreciate the help.
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Jan 11, 2012
Hi Annette,

I would like to help you out but I really don't know how you can sort this out since both of your dogs sound pretty aggressive and they don't appreciate each other's company most of the time

As you know BCs are very sensitive dogs and I just feel so bad that she gets attacked by the new comer (AS) and sees the AS being treated as the top dog...

The only suggesion I can make is to re-train each dog separately so that each of them really sees you as the leader and teach them to ignore each other. I would train the AS even more strict than the BC since she is much bigger and much bullier breed. If you cannot control her, she can really hurt the BC or any other dogs or even people.

Sorry, I can't help to be biased since I LOVE BCs

Hope somebody can help you out
Posted by KOPCaroline
Jan 11, 2012
Hey Annette,

Your situation is a tricky one, but I understand your hesitation to try and put your BC back at the dominant position. Especially if she doesn't really fight for the position anyway. It is a bit unfair since she was first in the house - but sometimes thats how it goes, and really you know the dynamics of your household better than any of us, and can judge if keeping the AS "on top" is less likely to cause more issues (which it sounds like is the case!).

Keeping a lead on your BC while you try to train her to listen more is a good idea, I know a few owners who have done this with their dogs and had good outcomes. Just be sure she wont get tangled up and hurt herself in it

Keeping the two seperate while playing with the other also is probably a good idea until they learn to tolerate each other and listen to you more - one outside, one inside, or one locked away in a seperate room is fine.

I definitely agree with MHN that you should individually retrain with both dogs so that you are set in both their minds as the alpha of the house. This will help with their listening and responses, as well as make it easier to break up fights or hopefully stop them before they start.

I know its not much advice, I'm sorry I can't be more help but it sounds like you've tried everything I could think of! I think the best bet at this point is to train more and more with each dog individually and keep doing what you have been. Especially train on recall with your BC so that you can't snap her out of egging the AS on and hopefully avoid her getting hurt again.