Author Topic: Help?! Dominance/Aggression?  (Read 3026 times)

mooheather

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Help?! Dominance/Aggression?
« on: February 19, 2007, 11:25:28 am »
I am stumped as to how to handle this situation- any advice/thoughts/experiences would be appreciated! Gus is a new addition to our home from an out-of-state animal control. He is 4 yo 170 lb St Bernard, who we neutered last month- as soon as he arrived, at which time we learned he is low antigen heartworm positive. He is sweet, affectionate, playful, learning commands. The problem is that when my husband is home he will sometimes snarl or nip at Annabelle or Sailor (neutered females who are very submissive), apparently 'resource guarding' my husband. Twice he left minor punctures on an ear, but not since the first week. I know the usual advice is to let dogs work out their own pecking order issues, but since none of these dogs were properly socialized I am not sure that will resolve anything. Also, it is my instinct to correct his behavior- which I have done my grabbing his collar and removing him from the situation, when I have been present. And I do not want Gus to traumatize these precious girls!

Please let me know what you think. Thanks!

Offline schelmischekitty

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Re: Help?! Dominance/Aggression?
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2007, 11:42:48 am »
could gus just be jealous when your hubby gives the other dogs attention?  if this is the case, one idea might be to make all three dogs sit stay when they get attention, that way they all learn that they're not allowed to fight over attention, plus they will all still get it.  obedience will also help, esp teaching gus that HE doesn't make the choices of who does what when where and why, that you do.  i'm sure everybody else will have great advice too.  also, is he getting enough exercise?  sometimes, if they don't get enough they can get frustrated a lot easier.
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Offline Softhug

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Re: Help?! Dominance/Aggression?
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2007, 11:55:42 am »
Not a trainer here first off.  But on more than one occasion, I have heard on the Dog Whisper that if there is an "altercation" between the dogs, taking the aggressor out of the situation is a "victory" in the aggressors mind.  I also know that alpha-rolling a large breed isn't a super idea (nor is it the first thing that pops into your mind when a situation like this arises).  My obedience trainer would probably say to make sure Gus has a choke or prong collar on with a leash then have your husband give the girls some love and if/when Gus goes after either of the other dogs, give him a hard yank with a firm/loud "NO!".  However, depending on his temperment, make sure he doesn't take that opportunity to focus the aggression on you! ;)   
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mooheather

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Re: Help?! Dominance/Aggression?
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2007, 01:28:23 pm »
I appreciate all of the suggestions so soon! I obviously should have given more details in my original post, but I was afraid of being too long-winded. After the first nipping episode I started keeping Gus on a leash whenever Chuck was home- after a week it became a burden, as there had only been a single incident. My husband has been correcting Gus whenever these incidents arise, typically with an alpha roll, which is not a problem for him as Chuck is 6'3" and very strong. However,I would prefer to avoid such an aggressive response, and am thinking that removing a velcro dog to an empty room could not possibly be a positive reinforcer. I am working on obedience with all of the dogs, and they are making great progress- my biggest problem is that I do not understand Gus's behavoir- he will leave Chuck's side to cross a room to snarl at a sleeping dog. This does not strike me as being normal dominance or resource guarding. And most times he will happily sleep right next to the girls. Sorry to ramble on... and please keep giving me feedback! Thanks.

Offline schelmischekitty

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Re: Help?! Dominance/Aggression?
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2007, 02:28:09 pm »
he might just be a little insecure since you mentioned that you just got him.  do you know anything about his past?  if he was passed around a lot, or just suddenly yanked out of his home, he might just be really nervous about it happening again and might need some confidence building to help him feel secure.  also, since there are two girls, and you just got him, he also may just be trying to figure out where he belongs in the hierarchy of your household, and if the girls are always together when they're sleeping might be his "ideal moment" to try to push his dominance on just one of them instead of having two to deal with.  removing a dog and giving it a "time out" if it misbehaves like this does work sometimes, but if the dog is insecure it could make it worst, too.   although rolling dogs is really a disputed concept (because novices can very easily get bit), we do it to all 4 of our dogs and we very very rarely have any problems with them.  we've done it since day one with them, and even if we just say their name they stop whatever they're doing and come to us, even if they get in a disagreement.  keep us updated!
steffanie in atlanta

aiden (4), tristan (2), & maya (born sept. 17th)
axle-140ish-lb akita (4)
peanut-5lb, 11 months chihuahua
[img width= height= alt=Image Hosted by ImageShack.us]http://img207.imageshack.us/img207/3339/alltogethernowme6.jpg[/img]