Author Topic: Posession Aggression...HELP!!  (Read 3040 times)

Offline shine

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Posession Aggression...HELP!!
« on: March 20, 2008, 01:01:45 pm »
When I joined this board several months ago, I posted about Bodhi showing posession aggression toward Ribbit, our Cocker Spaniel mix....and now things seem to be getting worse.

I am ashamed to say that we weren't very proactive in dealing with this situation when it first arose.  The problem seemed to be only with Ribbit, and we figured he was part of the problem....he is notoriously grouchy (typical Cocker), growls alot and attacked Bodhi a few times when he was a puppy and got too rambunctious.  Our way of handling this has been to keep them apart during potentially dangerous times.  I know we should have handled it differently, but we took the easy way out because we life is busy and hectic and we were nervous about them having another fight.  Avoidance seemed to be the easiest solution.  Unfortunately, I think this has helped cement in Bodhi's mind that no other dog should be around food or toys in his presence.....a nd this week he has shown aggression to two of our other dogs...

First, I was sitting on the couch eating Chinese.  Only Bodhi and Rio (our lab/beagle mix) were in the room...the other four dogs were in their kennels in the basement.  Bodhi has never shown any aggression toward Rio....but suddenly he lunged at her snarling.  It scared her to death and she squealed and ran away.  Bodhi didn't persue seemed like he just wanted to scare her off more than actually attack her.

Then, I was feeding the dogs in the basement.  I let everyone out into the yard but Ribbit...becau se of his past problems with Bodhi I keep him in and give him his food in his kennel before I let Bodhi back in.  After I fed Ribbit I let the others in....and Dolly got close to the table where their food bowls were sitting and Bodhi went after her.  She also ran away rather than fight, and Bodhi didn't go after her. 

With Ribbit, things are much more tense.  Bodhi has a fit if Ribbit gets near any kind of food....whethe r it be a bowl of dog food or groceries that we are putting away.  He will go after Ribbit if he gets near him when he has a toy.  They are usually okay together when I am handing out treats, but if one drops on the floor they will fight over I keep ahold of Bodhi's collar.  Lately I have been paranoid that they will fight even when there is no food involved, because Ribbit often growls at Bodhi anytime he comes near him.  Ribbit rarely backs down, and this rapidly escalates things and turns into a full-fledged fight. 

I'm really confused about what to do.  We had a trainer come out to our house a few months ago....he didn't give us many ideas.  Said we should drill a big eye-bolt into the kitchen wall and short leash Bodhi to it while we are eating.  It's an idea, but I don't think restraint is the same as training.  We live in BFE, there are no other trainers within 60 miles of us. 

Bodhi is so huge.  I am afraid he could kill Ribbit without even trying.  His size also makes him very hard to handle during a fight...he is stronger than me.  And since he is not even two years old, he still has Puppy Attention Span issues....when he gets jacked up it's hard to get his attention to train him.  Ribbit is also a problem.  He's always been testy, even with us....he will snap at us when we reprimand him....I think he would need to be muzzled to be thoroughly trained. 

Any tips, advice, etc. would be greatly appreciated.  I can't let this get any worse....can't let Bodhi think he can go after the others for being around food or toys.  I am starting to get paranoid....he has never shown any aggression toward other dogs in public, but when I took him to the vet a few days ago I wouldn't let him sniff the other dogs for fear that he would attack them.  I'm sure my tension is affecting him as well.  What training techniques can I use to curb this posession aggression??
Sharing my life and love with
Bodhi - Newfoundland
Rio - Loyal Lab/Beagle Mix
Zildjian - Dalmatian
Dolly - Weird Hound Mix
Stubby - Weird Corgi Mix
Ribbit - Grumpy Cocker Mix
House Cats - Bump, Delilah, Stashe, Mischa, Moose
Barn Cats - Archie, Betty, Midge
The Pigs - Ginger & Marianne

Offline Nicholeigh

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Re: Posession Aggression...HELP!!
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2008, 04:01:34 pm »
As gr8dame stated seems like it's time for doggy boot camp.

It sounds to me like you have a very similar problem to what I had with my two boys. I think what it really comes down to is a dominance problem. The reason Ribbit snaps at you may possibly be due to grouchiness, but it could also be because he thinks he is the top dog.  Even over you.  I would take steps to make him realize that you (and any other human) are the top dog/human in the house.  I personally do not let any dog on my couch or bed as it puts them on the same level as you, equal to you (that's my personal rule).  Snapping, snarling, and growling are not allowed in my house.... do so at your own risk.
With regards to Ribbit and Bodhi (I like those names) it sounds like they are fighting over who gets to be top dog in the house.  And Ribbit doesn't want to back down.  Again, that should be you.  It is pretty typical for a younger dog to challenge the authority of an older dog in the pack. By feeding Ribbit first you are elevating him above your other dogs (nothing wrong with that as long as you are consistent).   My boys get fed at the same time, separately, the older dog first to cement his place in the pack over the youger dog.

Consider getting a pinch collar for Bodhi, since he is stronger than you it is probably the most effective tool you can use. Keep him on the leash whenever food is around the house when he gets riled up about food, water, groceries, whatever give him a snap and a NO!  That's how I trained my rottie to not go after my cat.  It only took about a week before Rosco figured it out.  Now he doesn't even look cross eyed at my cat. **Disclaimer** If you don't know how to use a pinch collar do some research first.

During feeding time I would suggest instead of putting everyone outside in the yard, put everyone in their box/crate/kennel whatever you call it. I am assuming everyone has a crate.  Then prepare their food. Make sure everyone is calm.  I would feed in the same order you usually do but,feed Bodhi last. Every single time. Consistency with this is important.
If either of my dogs is overly excited about feeding time I wait until he is calm.  By feeding when they are calm rather than excited you are enforcing that being calm is acceptable, excited is not.

I tried the same thing as you did, keeping the two dogs separate.  I know that I internalized my fear of my two dogs fighting and it got to the point that I was so afraid that they would fight I think they fed off of it and that they inevitably would fight; perpetuating the cycle.  Keep in mind that dogs don't think the way we do.  They react. We can do things proactively to head off a potential fight. I would suggest watching your dogs behavior and trying to head off a fight before it happens.  Distract them, clap your hands once loudly, whistle, do something that takes them out of that frame of mind.

Having not seen your dogs in action I can't say for sure, but I'm willing to bet that Bodhi and Ribbit are not going for the kill when they get into a fight.  They are just trying to sort out who is the boss.  Anyhow, this is all just my personal opinion based on what I have dealt with and what I learned from my dog trainer/behavior guy.  Take it with a grain a salt and good luck. :)

Offline Ouch

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Re: Posession Aggression...HELP!!
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2008, 04:59:17 pm »
Having just gone thru this in the past two weeks with horrible consequences let me add - do something NOW about this.  When I bought Sadie home it was tense with a couple of fights and I have never fed them in the same room, treats I always made them sit and fed them around each other because Sadie and Copper get their's and take it to the carpet and lay down and eat them.  Emmitt does grab all the toys and lays in the middle of them sometimes but I always go get them and either put them up and give one to Emmitt and one to Sadie, in front of Emmitt so he can see she gets them too.  When Sadie and Emmitt got into it two weeks ago there was no warning .. their trigger is ME not food. I was drying Em and Sadie off from being outdoors when I guess they decided one was getting more attention than the other or Emmitt thought Sadie was coming after me while trying to play with the drying towel. I can't be glad to see them or break out into song and dance (they love that) I can't be sweet with them they have to work for everything .. I hate it and it's the hardest thing I've ever done.  The other night I took Copper, my old clueless one, into the walk in closet and shut the door just to cuddle with her, she doesn't see too well and I can't talk sweet to her without the other two getting excited and thinking we can all play again. I just keep thinking .. in the long run we're all going to be happier and even weathier without the med / vet bills that could and have occurred.  OUCH
Copper, 12 yr old American Cocker
Emmitt, 7 yr old English Springer Spaniel
Sadie, 2 yr old Newfie
OnryHenry, 17 yr old King Feline of KY

Offline ZooCrew

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Re: Posession Aggression...HELP!!
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2008, 09:16:31 pm »
I agree with what everyone else has said here.

You will have to get started on this new line of training right away if you are going to make any kind of difference.

I was wondering though........ .......have you been correcting Bhodi at any time he went after the other dogs?  Did he get reprimanded?  You didn't mention any kind of punishment for him when he did this to the other dogs.  If you didn't correct him in any way, could be why he has started doing it to the other dogs.......... .....he thinks he can get away with it.  Just make sure you are clear that it won't be tolerated.