Posted by alphawannabe
Jul 3, 2008
I have two pups. An 11 year old Lab/border collie and an 8 month old lab/mix Pit bull??? We've had him since February. Put our older 16 year old down in January. The 11 year old loves this pup most of the times. She was not the alpha dog with the older one. I was hoping she would be with the puppy, however, when she asserts herself and gets mad at him, he comes right back at her. They sound like they're in a horrible fight with neither backing down. I can't tell whether the puppy thinks he's playing or not. He's shown his teeth to me and growled when he was younger and never did submit like he knew I was the alpha dog. I want to nip this sooner rather than later.

There's lots of issues with this little guy. We just had him neutered hoping it would help. The other thing he does is when people come in the house, especially when I come home, he nips and mouths and bites your clothes. I've tried crying out ouch, turning my back to ignore which is just jumps on my back. I also feel bad because the old gal just sits there waiting for my attention. Any ideas would help. As I said, I've tried some of the things in the book but nothing is working yet.
Posted by Todd
Jul 16, 2008
Hi there and thanks for the post.

I will deal with the two issues separately so we can try and solve each.

Firstly with the nipping at you and your clothes. This is the most common problem i get aksed about on the forum so don't be worried too much.
I think this issue as well as the other issue you mentioned is probably based around some alpha issues as well as a little bit of over-excitement thrown in

Alpha training will make a big difference to both the nipping and the issues with your other dog -
The aim of the training is to reinforce to your dogs that you are the head of the house and what you say goes. A dog that knows its place is far less likely to cause problems and to challenge others in the household.

There are a few ways to reinforce your position and try reading the Secrets to Alpha training in the book. Also it is important that everyone in the house treats both dogs the same so they are not getting mixed messages.

1) Both dogs must be the last to eat at every meal and should never get treats from the table.

2) They should never walk through doors before you. A good way to practice this is to walk around the house and make them sit at each doorway and wait.

3) If either of your dogs is lying in the hallway or anywhere you have to get past make them move. If you think they will snap leave a lead on them so you can move them whilst maintaining a bit of distance.

4) When you arrive home completely ignore the dogs for 15 minutes. Don't look at them, talk to them or pat them. After this go to them and give them some quiet attention only as long as they are relaxed and calm.

Now it is very important that both of your dogs are as obedient as possible. The more obedient they are the more likely they are to follow commands especially when they are misbehaving. Separate training sessions are the best way in a quiet secluded area. Start with sit, stay and come and if you want to throw in some other commands later go for it.

Also make sure that both dogs are getting a good deal of exercise daily whether this be walking, playing in the yard or a swim. A tired dog is far less likely to be naughty and cause problems. Toys are also important to keep them mentally stimulated and distracted.

When you arrive home as well as any time either dog is being naughty, no matter how major or minor it is (eg a growl, a nip or something worse), they need to be firmly and immediately told off to make sure they know they have done wrong.
Use a loud voice and an ARRRRRR or GRRRRRR while staring straight at them. A squirt with a water pistol is a great way to reinforce the punishment. Once you have told them off ask them to sit. After a few seconds of sitting go to them and praise them for being relaxed.

This is the same as you should do when you come home and he nips at you. Turn suddenly at him and growl. Then pick him up and put him in his time out room and close the door. He needs around ten minutes. Then let him out.
If he does it again growl louder and water pistol him and back to the room.

Retraining him is going to be repetition. When he misbehaves tell him off and when he is good praise him. It will be best to try this with you and you may want to wear some thick pants. Repeat this over and over.

Once he has the idea then start with some "strangers". Tell them what is going on and make sure it is alright. Make sure they do as you have been so the boy gets the idea.

Now to the second problem -

It is hard in a household when there is a sudden change in the pack order and both dogs may be trying to sort out who goes where. Some people like to reinforce one dog as the alpha and suppress the other. This can work but there can be a lot of conflict involved so i prefer another method.

We need both dogs to realise they are both at the bottom of the pack and both will get attention and be looked after if they get along. Now with the younger boys problems he will be the one to make sure follows these steps.

So here is how to do it - Firstly you may need a muzzle for the boy if you think he may get a little nippy.

1. Firstly get both dogs to sit near you. Pet one, and then feed that one. Then, feed the other one for tolerating your interactions with the first one. At first, this is best done with a second handler, but after the dogs become better at self-restraint, you can do this alone.

2. Sit on the sofa and call the dogs over. Ask one dog to sit or lie down. Make a fuss over Dog 2. Reward the sitting/downed Dog 1 for tolerance and remaining in place. Then reverse this: put Dog 2 in a sit or down position and make a big fuss over Dog 1. Reward Dog 2 for tolerance and staying. Again, you can do this by yourself if you have confidence that a brawl won't break out.

3. Remember that if you take one dog for a walk, leave the other one behind and kennel the walked dog on return. When things are calm for 5 – 15 minutes, get both dogs out and put them in sit and down together for a treat (never facing each other). Then allow them to interact, if you think that it is safe to do so at this point in training. Follow this advice when you work the dogs as well. Kennel one dog, and work the other dog. Then trade, kenneling one and getting the other out to work. After a 5 – 15 minute rest period, get the dogs out and carefully work them together. You may need two handlers for this also.

When it comes to meal time you should encourage the two dogs to eat at the same time near each other. Do not put their food bowls down until they are both sitting, listening and behaving. Be prepared for them to show some aggression, if one dog moves towards the others food or growls, reprimand them. The methods above are great for reprimanding the dogs. You really want to reinforce that food aggression is not acceptable. If at any stage one of the dogs misbehaves take its food away and put it into a quiet room. Wait ten minutes and then try again with that dog.

Over the next few weeks you can slowly move the dogs food bowls together. Do this slowly and always watch them. If they misbehave go back to the step where they tolerated each other. You should over time get them to the point where they can eat side by side.

Feeding the dogs side by side from your hand is a great way to reinforce their friendship but be very careful and only do this when you fully trust them. It will take you weeks to get to this stage.

Make sure both dogs get heaps of toys when they are learning to behave. Make sure you teach them to play together and again reinforce good behaviour. Once they will play together then you can try and leave them with the toys, but always keep an eye on them.

At any stage aggression is reprimanded just like i mentioned and they are then given a time out.

Good luck with the team and let me know how things are going. We are here to help and often we need to give different advice if the first method doesn't work. You are doing a great job so keep up the good work