A little advice??

Posted by pls1979
Jan 8, 2009
I have a 3 year old Aussie Shepard/Chow mix, Einstein. He's my biggest problem right now. He will growl at my fiance' and my 12 year old daughter if they even pet him and I'm afraid that it will escalate to biting. If you tell him to get off the couch, he growls. He has gotten fierce enough with my fiance' that his hackles will be up and he's in the "stance", but fortunately has not snapped. After reading through Sitstayfetch, I can tell that we've let him believe he is the alpha at our house.

I have two other dogs. A 2 year old Brittany/Aussie Shepard, Scrappy, and an 8 year old Shar Pei/Lab, Harry, who is not a problem at all. Scrappy; however, has started growling at Einstein and it has come down to some pretty serious fights. I'm afraid that these will escalate and one of us may get caught in the middle and/or a trip to the vet for injuries.

I just feel completely overwhelmed at how to even begin to work with my dogs. I have read the How to be the Alpha booklet and we have all 3 started doing these small things at home with the dogs. Aside from that, I don't know where to start or what to do. I don't want to get rid of my dogs, but if I can't get Einstein calmed down and no longer growling at any of us, I can't have him at home with the possible liability. I have tried to work with him a little, but he will growl at me (then roll over on his back, which really confuses me) and I'm afraid to correct him as I'm not sure how much of his growling is just that or if he will act on it.

Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated!!
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Jan 9, 2009
Hi pls 1979,

So you have 3 dogs and how do they interact each other?
Who is the most dominant dog? Which one you had first and which one is the newest addition?

Do you spend time with each of the dogs so that you and each dog can develop a good relationship? Are they getting enough excercise?

Have they all had some obedience training? Do they obey your commands, or ignore you?

If you want to become the respectful leader (I don't like the term "Alpha dog" to be used for the owner), it is essential that you and each dog develop a strong relationship. Then, you will be able to control/manage their relationship. Somehow, I got the impression that each of your dogs is not very happy with the other dogs' company.

You said that Einstein is the biggest problem so lets spend one-on-one time with him and start from basic obedience using positive reinforcement. I would start with the following 20 mins session as well as one-on-one walk with Einstein everyday:

1) In a separate room, have him "Sit" and "Wait". You walk to the other end of the room and call him. When he comes to you "Praise" very joyfully saying like "What a good boy!" and give him treat.

2) Have him "Down" and "Stay". You will go toward the door and opens the door while he is still in the "Down" position. Close the door and come back to him and praise and treat.

3) Put a treat in front of him and say "Leave it". If he tries to eat, shut him out with your hand repeating "Leave it" in a loud voice. If he can leave it for 2 seconds, say "take it" and let him eat the treat. Make it longer and longer as he improves.

4) Play fetch and make him "Drop" the ball, or play tug and make him "Drop" the rope.

You will repeat those eveyday so that he will do what he is told to do with an expectation of getting a treat and praise. Dogs will gain their self-confidence when they can perform things and being praised.

In the mean time, put a cardboard or some obstacles on the couch to prevent him from getting on it. After he masters the above 1) to 4), next time he gets on the couch, instead of saying "Off", call him from distance showing a treat with a joyful voice "Come on, Einstein, here is a treat!"

By this time, I hope he will have become an obedient dog so that he won't get up on the couch when you say "Uh uh, not on the couch" and show him his bed nearby.

It will take time and patience but I think it will pay off.

Don't forget to give some one-on-one time to the other dogs too!

Good luck