Preventing Inner-Pack Aggression: Part II

As we discussed in the last article, it is imperative you establish leadership within your pack. Controlling all good things in their environment is a great way to accomplish this without being confrontational. Here are a few simple rules to begin living by to create the leadership role:

1. Feed on a schedule using separate bowls:
Each dog should be required to eat from their own bowls during a designated feeding time. Food should not be left out for the dogs to eat throughout the day. Each dog should have their own area for eating in peace. Do not allow either dog to hover around one that is still eating.

2. Require each dog to perform a behavior before being allowed to eat:
This may be something as simple as a sit behavior combined with a permission word to eat, or it could be a series of behaviors. Requiring the dogs to do a specific behavior will help him understand that compliance is important to earning rewards.

3. Require self-control before earning rewards:
Many disagreements occur during high arousal moments such as when going outside, coming inside, getting a leash on or someone coming to the door. It is imperative that you require your dogs to exhibit self-control before earning any of these rewards. This doesn’t require a certain behavior be displayed like with feeding. Instead, this can be controlled excitement as long as there is no excessive barking or jumping.

4. Control high value space such as furniture:
Many dogs get into fights over particular resources such as a particular dog bed or the couch. Dogs should understand that these high value places are only given to them by you and therefore are not marked for protection. Your dogs should only be allowed on furniture with a command (“couch” or “okay”) by you. Dogs should be removed immediately from the resource if any resource guarding behavior occurs. This includes staring, growling or snarling. Dogs can have free access to their own beds as long as they are not exhibiting any behavior listed above.

5. Always remain calm, confident and in-control:
When dogs show inappropriate behavior towards one another you must remain calm and confident. This means that you should not raise your voice, use physical punishment or instill any other type of consequence unless you know the full details of the inappropriate behavior. You may interrupt inappropriate behavior using a calm, control voice with separation but only as a precaution and not as a punishment.

This is a great start to establishing some much needed leadership as well as teaching the dogs the rules of the household. If your dogs are starting to have issues be sure you keep records as to when the behavior occurs, the length of the behavior and the result. You should also note what occurred moments before. You can also set up an appointment with us before things get out of hand.