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Hello! New member with 7-8 mos puppy becoming food aggressive

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Background: I currently have a pack of 5 dogs; Merlin a black male Standard Poodle age 8 (carefully selected from a reputable breeder after 2 years of research), Peaches a cream female Moyen/Standard Poodle age 13-14 yrs adopted at age 9 to be Merlin's buddy, two rescue dog companions taken in unexpectedly to help a friend in an emergency - Zilly a Rottie/GSD mix age 8+ and Zack a BC or Australian Shep. age 10+, and Sophie (profile pic) a BC adopted from a shelter now age 7 mos?.


I grew up thinking of my dogs as my siblings - the only kid in 5th grade who responded to the assignment 'Give a report on the famous historical figure you would most want to be' describing El Lobo, a notorious, huge wolf living in the early times of the Southwest much to the amusement of my classmates who all chose people! As an adult, I've had a Great Dane which I attempted to show in conformation (futile but fun), two Dobermans with whom I did novice obedience and Canine Good Citizenship titles, and Merlin, the Standard Poodle, which I began training for agility before issues with my special needs son who is High Functioning Autistic overtook me. I have always been awestruck by the BCs I saw at agility trials but realized my skills and reaction time were way to slow to handle one. Then Zack landed in my life. He is a very melancholy, 'shell-shocked' veteran of multiple owners/shelters who apparently failed to herd a car at some point in his younger days. Zack not only comprehends everything going on around him at the moment but he also forecasts what is about to happen and vanishes BEFORE trouble begin. Merlin does the same thing BUT I raised him from a pup so of course he can 'game the system'. Zack walked in cold and immediately began to play chess.


I found a home for Zack back in January with a family who had lost an Aussie from old age. All seemed a great fit but Zack bolted immediately after arriving and was missing for almost a month during the wettest, coldest part of our winter. His new owner and I combed the area and shelters. That's when I found Sophie. She was a ball of tuxedo fluff with blue eyes who just cut her baby teeth. A woman with a baby in arms and an untamed toddler were squealing about her cuteness and I asked 'Do you know what that is??? It's a Border Collie!!!' as if she were considering a rattlesnake for a pet. Right then it became real to me how dogs like Zack got so messed up and I decided to get that puppy out of there. If I can handle her - great, if not, ... I'll make sure she is placed in an experienced home. Zack arrived at the shelter the day after the new owner adopted another collie from death row ... so Zack is back.


As feared, Sophie has been like a hurricane in a trailer park. First the pup tried to nurse my grumpy, snarky old female poodle who growled at and punished her every move. Then Sophie decided Peaches and Merlin were sheep to herd (hence my user name)!!! I shaved them down and put denim vests on to blur the woolly image. She ski's on the hardwood floor clamped on Merlin's tail as he races through the house, In the yard, she badgers the 90 lb Rottie mix who is too slow to catch her. Zack just ignores her - looks up at the sky as if watching a hawk and waits for her to go away. The puppy shenanigans were expected, put life back in the geriatric pack, and has me scrambling to absorb as much from this website as possible .


Problem: In the last 2 weeks, however, Sophie has "begun to experiment with guarding and confrontational behaviors." She is giving Peaches a big dose of karma - has had several fights which are escalating to poking holes in the old girl's face. She has also lunged and threatened Zack and Zilly. Merlin isn't a big eater so he doesn't threaten her as much. Most of the fights are food related. She guards the pantry which contains the kibble, her bowl, her crate in which she is fed etc. I have rearranged the furniture to put her crate away from any walk path and pick up all bowls once the food is eaten. From the beginning I sit with her while she eats and scoop the kibble for her to eat out of my hand - so far she is only dog aggressive. Some of the issue will resolve when Lilly is adopted and/or Peaches dies (probably in 1-2 years).



Should I feed her in the laundry room or basement away from the others instead of her crate? Will that eventually reduce her guarding of the crate?

Can I keep a large, loose muzzle on Sophie when she and Peaches are in the house together uncrated? I have one large enough she can drink with it on and nibble kibble. She seems to calm down when wearing it.

How long will it take for the insecurity to extinguish, once she no longer feels threatened?

She has been sleeping in her crate on the bottom floor alone while the other dogs and kids sleep upstairs. Is this helping or making her more insecure?

I have taken the Tellington Touch seminar - is there any part of a BC that is known to hold a lot of stress that I can stimulate?

Are there some BC people in the Atlanta area that might be able to evaluate her and help me?

What can my boys do (ages 14 and 12) to assist?


I fear Sophie was taken from her mother too soon and/or is from puppy mill breeding. I don't want to give her up but don't want to ruin her either! Any advice or tips are welcome. Thanks in advance.

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Donald's advice is a bit brief, but he's said the gist of it.


Don't let her run around and harass the other dogs, ever. Tether her to you. Work with her behavior bit by bit. CHoose the one or two things you really, really need to change and work on those.


Reinforce good behavior with a 'good girl', a treat, a scritch on the head, whatever works best for you and her. Confine her safely when you are not actively working with her.


If she's confined safely during the day, with appropriate training/potty/play breaks, then try having her sleep (in her crate) with the rest of the 'pack'.


Keep a journal of what's working and what's not working. Get a consult from a good trainer. Read "Feeling Outnumbered?" by Trish McConnell. It's very brief and very helpful.


Others will have more suggestions, but really, ya gotta train her not to be such a hooligan.


Ruth and Agent Gibbs

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Hi, Poodles, welcome to the Boards. Sounds like you've really got your hands full! Right about now you're probably thinking no good deed goes unpunished.


Could you tell us a little bit more about the incidents between Sophie and the other dogs? Not so much your conclusions about them ("She is resource guarding" or "She is feeling insecure," but just what is actually happening -- who's present, where they are, time of day, who's doing what, what happens then, etc. Just a few typical examples would be helpful, but include one that involves her crate, since you said that she guards her crate. I hope that will make it easier for us to suggest something useful for you.


ETA: I was in a hurry to write this and wrote it before I saw Ruth's post, which contains excellent suggestions. Still would like to hear a little more details, though. For example, I'm trying to understand the sentence, "Merlin isn't a big eater so he doesn't threaten her as much."

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Just by the way, don't allow her to hang on to another dog's tail. It looks amusing, and probably all of us have allowed it, but that can result in serious injury. Our Megan has been to the vet more than once for bites to her tail (due to Dan as a youngster), and eventually lost the end of her tail to a bite that became infected. Pups do grab fur and go for a ride and, with the right older dog and the right type of grabbing (like neck ruff or other similarly well-protected places), it may be allowable - but not the tail or ears or other easily-injured body parts, please. The tail may be one of the worst because some injury is often not noticed until infection sets in.


You are your older dogs' advocate, and so need to prevent them from being harassed. Even if one of them is a suitable playmate for your pup, you still need to step up and keep her occupied mentally (most important) and physically (also important) so that her energy is channeled into more productive and less harmful directions.


As for your pack dynamics, I don't think it too helpful that she is confined at night away from everyone else, dogs and people. That's not going to help her integrate into the family/pack structure, I don't believe. A crate in the bedroom might be better unless, of course, you wind up with guarding issues. Then another approach might be better suited.


I hope you get the advice you need to get this sorted out, once you have supplied a bit more specific information, as Eileen has recommended.

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I get the 'Train - don't complain' mantra but things I was told 15 years ago - like let the dogs work out their pack hierarchy - isn't working. I have pretty much been away from anything dog since the kids came along - bright & biddable, Merlin was a breeze and an only dog for 4 years. Let me try to provide the examples you need.


Merlin had a brush with bloat very early so I had his stomach tacked, he seems uncomfortable if he bolts his food. He never was a big eater and had the luxury of being an only so he prefers to leave food in his bowl and graze all day. He could care less if another dog gets his food and takes only a mild interest in treats (toys are his thing). I asked the breeder for him because he was the most submissive of the pups I was allowed to choose from - my boys were 6 and 4 at the time. He is very high energy and adores Sophie playing with him. He can be too rough (chewing withers, body slamming, badgering for another chase long after the other dog is tired, etc.) when romping outside with most dogs but of course, she just gives it back plus some.


Most of the fights occur near the pantry, near food bowls, bones, dropped food, and near the opening of her crate where she is fed. Most of the fights are with Peaches who has the nasty personality of the toy/miniature poodle. At 14+ she is mostly blind and hugely food motivated. Peach follows her nose straight into trouble. Sophie lowers her head and tail into the working stance and usually leaps for Peaches neck. Peach fights back until Sophie pins her to the ground. Sophie stops biting but remains on top with teeth barred until I intervene or Peaches relaxes. If I can't get there fast enough and Peaches snarls, Sophie gives her another round. Afterward I put Sophie in her crate for at least 30 minutes.


Sophie has lunged and growled at Zack but the old man just runs and doesn't resist. She has made one or two passes at Zilly but stops when Zilly thunders her war bark and starts to hackle. I haven't seen aggression toward Merlin yet - just the stance. He has been trained not to play rough in the house so he usually backs away.

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Okay, just a bit about Peaches and Sophie. Peaches is elderly and mostly blind. When Sophie was smaller and Peaches was able to point out her limits, it seems you may have discouraged that - now that Sophie is a bratty teenage and pushing the envelop, Peaches does not have the ability to defend herself.


A largely-blind dog does not see other dogs' body language and that can lead to a couple of issues - the blind dog may initiate a fight because she "sees" another dog and can't see the other dog's body language, and a pre-emptive strike is a defense. We experienced that with an elderly, blind-for-years Border Collie and our Aussie, as well as other dogs. When Rocket's eyesight began to deteriorate (a gunshot wound had damaged his eyesight when in his prime, but it became progressively worse as he aged), this previously well-socialized dog that never started a fight began to start fights with our other dog and with dogs we met. I think it was fear because he could not see the other dog and therefore gauge the other dog's intentions as expressed by his body language.


The blind dog, as you have seen, may follow other senses and just not be aware of his/her surroundings, and not see that she's entering an area that she shouldn't be entering or blundering into another dog's space.


Training is important but no matter what the problem or result is, you need to manage your dogs to avoid confrontation first, and then implement training. So, my advice is to provide separate areas for Peaches and Sophie, to provide a safe area for Peaches and to prevent Sophie from being overtly aggressive with Peaches.


The idea of tethering Sophie to you, when she is not safely confined in her crate or in another room (maybe with a baby gate), is a good one because it means you are always able to see what she is doing, what she is looking at, and what might be triggering her youthful, testing-the-waters teenage attitude. And it makes you responsible for initiating either training, discipline, or management (or all three) when a situation arises.


Avoiding the problematic situation is the best start (until you have done enough training to avoid the situation turning into a problem). Preventing a situation from escalating from its very first inception (when the idea is just taking form) is the next best approach, and having Sophie with you will help you to do this.


I have a somewhat brash young dog - or at least he was quite brash when he was around Sophie's age. Swaggering, pushing, testing, seeing how far he could go. The older, insecure dog did not deal well with that, and we've had a few altercations - but I have always been right there to stop them, usually before they got past the posture and low growl stage. And I let the young dog know, in no uncertain terms, that that behavior towards the older dog was not acceptable.


Again, you are the advocate (and protector) of your older dogs - if you can't train Sophie at this point in time, then you need to manage your household so everyone's sake.


Best wishes, and I hope you can get some good advice here. I know there are people who have the experience to offer the approaches that have worked for them in similar situations.

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Again, excellent advice from Sue.


Most of the fights occur near the pantry, near food bowls, bones, dropped food, and near the opening of her crate where she is fed. Most of the fights are with Peaches who has the nasty personality of the toy/miniature poodle. At 14+ she is mostly blind and hugely food motivated. Peach follows her nose straight into trouble.


Thanks for the additional info, but I'm still not sure I'm getting the picture. Do you feed Sophie in her crate with the door open, and Peaches follows her nose right up to (or into) Sophie's crate and then gets nailed? If so, an obvious first step would be to close the door of Sophie's crate while she's eating, and then remove her empty bowl as soon as she's finished. I think moving her crate out of the pantry would be a good idea, if you think it's making her feel that all the food is hers. You said you moved her crate away from all walk paths -- is that because she lunges at the walls of her crate when other dogs walk by? Or for some other reason? I too think it would be good if she could sleep upstairs with the rest of the family, if you can have a crate up there.


BTW, even if what Sophie was doing with your poodles when she first came was herding behavior, I don't think there's any chance that their woolly appearance was a factor in bringing it out. Many things that a border collie knows perfectly well are not sheep can evoke herding behavior, so I don't think you need to put any effort into making them look less woolly. :)

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Most of the fights occur near the pantry, near food bowls, bones, dropped food, and near the opening of her crate where she is fed.


Hello and welcome to the boards. You really have your hands full. :)


My dogs are very food motivated. When they finish eating, they are always interested in what is left in someone else's bowl but they know (combination of my training and each other's growls) not to go near another's bowl until they are done. Once they're done it's fair game. When a new foster dog comes in I don't expect them (the foster)to be that polite about it because they're usually starving strays so they are always crated to eat or to have a bone. I do not allow the other dogs near the foster's crate until they are done. Of course, then pick up the food bowls as you've been doing. The training is not complicated. For me it just involves body blocking until they get the message. Then a sit/stay or go lay down. If you can't do this, then it's better to feed the puppy in another room. If fights break out when you're getting food out of the pantry to prepare it for them, then you can manage this by moving their food/treats to the laundry room (if you have one)and preparing their food without them around you. You can also teach them to stay out of the kitchen when you're preparing food. This would also help with dropped food. You can teach a "leave it". Google for methods on that if you don't know how. You can also crate the puppy while you're preparing food.


Good luck and I'd love to see a picture!

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Hi Poodles ~


You're getting good advice here, so I'll just toss my tuppence in, which you are free to take or ignore. :)


First, do NOT allow Sophie to torment/play with the other dogs at will. The idea of letting a pack sort itself out is asking for trouble - especially if a younger dog decides an older dog no longer holds rank. I like the idea of tethering her to you, when you can't crate her or watch her. Just because the other dogs are tolerant does not mean they deserve to have her hanging off their tales.


YOU must take charge. Be firm. Step up. Lay boundaries. Do not let a border collie establish its own boundaries, because you won't like where she draws them. ;)


Regarding her crate, definitely put it away from the pantry to feed her. If she persists in guarding the pantry, then I'd personally would make it clear that the pantry is mine, and she can bugger off somewhere else. ;) "NO!" is a wonderful word. And just be sure that Sophie is shut in her crate until her food is gone, and pick up her bowl immediately. There should be no way that blind old Peaches can get to her while she is eating, and no bowl for Peaches to poke her nose into, once Sophie is done eating.



I say again, YOU have to take charge. Firm but fair does the trick with a bossy little body like that. You don't want to be mean or anything, of course not! But you want her to know that when you tell her to Stop something, you mean stop now. And with older dogs, you really do have to intervene. I have my old Jesse who is now 13 and infirm, but he helped raise my Nick, who is now 4. When Nick hit about 2-1/2, he started copping an ugly attitude towards his old mentor, because he could tell that Jesse was growing frail. It was then up to me to prevent situations where any altercation could arise.


That's going to be your job, preventing the situations from happening, and dis-allowing Sophie from building on inappropriate behaviors. It's not stress or touch-whatsits, it's just a puppy who, as you suggest, may well have been taken from her litter too young, and your dogs are too old to establish boundaries for her. Therefore, you be the mama dog and say what goes. Border collies NEED structure, rules and consistency or they'll take over the universe. ;)


Best of luck with your little rascal! :) BTW, some photos would be nice.


~ Gloria

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Your poodles' woolly appearance have nothing to do with Sophie's attempts to "herd" them. She's just doing it because they are interesting and move in tantalizing ways. Since Sophie has never seen a sheep, she has no way to equate woolliness with sheep-like qualities, nor would she do so, if she did know what sheep really were. ;)


~ Gloria

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Very perceptive Sue - I think Peaches cataracts keeps her from reading Sophie's signals combined with her terrier-like personality is a big part of the squabbles. When I got Peaches at age 9-10 she was an animal aggressive outside dog but switching to being indoor on Merlin's turf toned her down (plus me barking at her). Merlin loved being chased by her even if it was with murderous intent. He can be a rough bully so her testiness made it a pretty even match. They did a lot of boxing, barking in ears, growling and spitting all over each other for almost a year. They never drew blood on each other - just an yip now and then. Now they are best buds that occasionally compete for affection, toys, etc..


As for the poodle shearing - it was time anyway. In the winter I let their coats grow and clip it all off when the Spring pollination begins (otherwise they are walking swifters bringing in all the pollen). Peaches being almost white does look like a sheep when her coat is 5" long. Usually the old girl wears a denim vest because I discovered it calmed her down somewhat (why didn't I think to market ThunderShirts!). I wasn't sure if Sophie was a true BC or a Husky mix until day 2 or 3 when she saw Peaches, vestless in full coat. The little fuzz-ball froze, her eyes narrowed and she did the working/stalking pose - it was so cute. I left Merlin with a 3-4" lion mane to protect his neck and ears and withers. I also put an old ace elastic band about 2" wide over his collar so she tugs on it instead of him as much.



I did try to protect Sophie from the others/Peach when she was under 30 pounds by keeping one or the other on a leash outside, carrying Sophie and being hover-mom when inside. I sometimes had to crate P so S could play without intimidation. I would leash Sophie to my chair in the office while working on the computer. If Peaches came in I would try to keep S. in my lap and let P. know that growling was unacceptable. I did try "wearing the dog" on a leash as I did housework or yard work but couldn't get much accomplished with the 'carpet shark' as the boys called her latched to my shoes. I made a puppy pacifier out of a fabric sheepskin seat belt cover over an old 22" choke chain. Sophie wears it like a necklace and whenever she nipped, I said 'No Nip' and poked the piece-o-sheep in her mouth. I've wondered, if like a people pacifier, that it might actually prolong the mouthing - but her adult teeth are only 90% done. When she drags on Merlin's tail, I say 'No Nip' and on the 2rd offense I show her the muzzle and 3rd offense put it on her for 20-30 minutes. The number of times I put the muzzle on her is diminishing slowly. I also tried Apple Bitter, hot sauce etc. on his tail but she just went for his ears instead. As of yesterday Sophie is 42 lbs, 20"h and still a clumsy puppy. She is almost the same size as Peach but her brains are still babyish. I probably let her fend for herself before she was ready.



Eileen, I hope I can explain my kitchen layout - a cook island in the middle of a circle of counter tops with exits to other rooms like wagon spokes. Before the fights, her crate was off to the side of the exit for the back door. All dogs go out that door for potty trips. I fed her in her crate with the door closed but not locked so she could come out when done. After eating, they all do musical bowls to see if anyone missed a speck. Sophie would "go low" then launch if Peach got within 2 feet of the open crate with the empty bowl. Moving Sophie's crate out of the kitchen area to the den has helped quite a bit. I sit at the open crate door and feed her by hand and bark at any dog that comes to investigate. I also pick up all bowls after meals.


Peaches bowl was close to the pantry which is just a small closet off the kitchen. At feeding time Peach would anxiously pace near her bowl. The smell of dog food comes from the pantry so rescue dogs also gather there. Zilly is on a very strict diet and has lost over 20 pounds - she was a 'coffee table' dog when I got her in Jan. The big girl has never been denied food before and gets all whiny at mealtime. Zack also gets anxious but i taught him to sit by his bowl and wait. Zilly is more spoiled stupidness than I have time or patience to deal with in running my circus solo. I realized all the tension was a trigger and Sophie would much rather take it out on the 45 lb nasty poodle instead of the 90 lb Rottie mix. I moved Peaches bowl to the far side of the kitchen and bark at any dog loitering near the pantry.


I have a second crate for Sophie which was beside my bed. She began to attack Peaches whenever she walked past the crate. Unfortunately Peach sleeps on a bed at the foot of my bed and had to walk past the crate. I collapsed that crate. My upstairs gets pretty warm and Sophie prefers to sleep uncrated on the cold bathroom tile. I figured her sleeping downstairs was cooler, solved the conflict near my bed, and put an end to the shredded rolls of toilet paper and other mischief at night. I agree that it is too separate from the pack so I guess I rearrange my room to make room near an air conditioner vent.


There hasn't been a fight in two days since making these changes. I hope that Lilly can find a forever home this weekend - when she left for an adoption test drive the other week, the remaining dogs got along better - when she came back, the draw-blood trouble began. I am also making a list of chores Sophie can help with. Merlin is responsible for waking up the kids and closing doors - any other ideas?

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These words may seem harsh to you, but your dogs and you are headed for trouble, IMO.


If things at home are that much calmer without Lily, consider finding another foster home for Lily. Social pressure on dogs can and does wreck havoc.


Keep Peaches and Sophie separated. Sometimes female dogs take a strong dislike to one another, it can get ugly fast. Peaches is old and getting older. Sophie will get worse as Peaches ages, and Peaches will likely get snarkier.


Don't allow Sophie to maul any of the dogs. I repeat, she should be tethered to you or safely confined. If you need to for a couple weeks, work with her only when the other dogs are safely confined. This takes effort and planning, but your problems will only get worse if you don't get a good handle on this now.


When she drags on Merlin's tail, I say 'No Nip' and on the 2rd offense I show her the muzzle and 3rd offense put it on her for 20-30 minutes.

Please do NOT let her have 3 chances to practice bad behavior. She can't count to 3. Stop it the instant it starts, pop her in her crate or into an x-pen. Get her out again when you're ready to work with her. She'll get the idea much faster if you stop the behavior instantly, rather than letting her go on and on.


Don't let her chew your shoes. Ah-ah in sharp tone, then offer her something she can chew.


This is a lot of work, but it can be done. It comes with the territory of having different dogs, different temperments and ages.


Please step up your responses to Sophie's and Peaches aggression. That's what it is, aggression. The other dogs who are right now tolerating Sophie will come to a point where they don't. Sophie and/or one or more of your other dogs can get badly injured.


I wish you the best of luck, but you're going to need to seriously get more organized and more strict about keeping dogs separated, working with Sophie only when the other dogs are confined for now, and having Sophie safely confined when you're not working directly with her. No Sophie on your lap while you're at the computer, or tethered to your chair while you're doing something else.



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As I often do, I am going to recommend a book to you. :D There are so many great ones out there right now. You might want to check out a book called "How Many Dogs" by Debby McMullen. For more information, check out this link:




Reading this won't be a cure-all, but the author addresses many of the issues that you have raised, and this may give you insight into training options. The book is available for purchase on Amazon. I read this when I had five (about a year ago) and it was extremely helpful.


I wish you the best in this very tough situation.

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I had some issues with my ex's dog attacking my BC for awhile. It was 2 females in the house and his dog was very nervous, and had/has some major issues guarding well...everything.


A couple things I found with them,


Exercising and obedience training the aggressive dog really toned down the problems. The more my ex worked with her, whether it was obedience or tricks, the better she was with people and other dogs. I would suggest putting her in a puppy obedience class pronto. She could get some socialization with other dogs, and have structured time where you and she learn to communicate. Maybe move on to rally obedience, agility, or sheep herding? I'm a broken record, but give her a job and it will help with these other problems to an extent.


The second big thing I noticed was timing. If I pulled the aggressive dog off the other it stopped the fight, but that was it. It didn't sink in for her that the aggression wasn't acceptable until I stopped her right as she was about to go for the other dog one day. After that single experience she was MUCH MUCH better. I'm not sure why this worked. I think perhaps when she got worked up enough being on top of the other dog it was just too late for any kind of reprimand to make sense. Catching her as she was about to jump on the other dog seemed to send the message a lot clearer, and before she got herself worked up. I dont know if anyone else has had this experience.

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Thanks for the reply to all our remarks, Poodles! :)


I do hope you'll pay attention to the other folks here. Sophie must not be allowed aggressive or inappropriate play, EVER. If you allow her 3 strikes, then all you're teaching her is that you don't really mean it until the third try.


Think about this. If Sophie was weaned too young, she never had the chance to learn self-restraint. Had she remained in her litter until 8 weeks, both her siblings and her mother would have taught her when enough was enough. But she never learned that. Her sisters or her mother would NOT tolerate her biting their tails or whatever other painful thing two or three times over. They would have turned and corrected her right NOW, each time. But she missed out on that.


Now, showing her the muzzle is just a bluff. Putting it on her is ... well, an inhibitor, but all that does is change her ability to bite Merlin's. It does not change her desire to bite his tail.


You don't need to limit her ability to do wrong. You need to change her thinking about it. The things you're doing are a start, but alone, they will not achieve that.


If you can't tether her to you - and I quite understand the great inconvenience of that - then you need to arrange space for her to be on time-out, or for the older dogs to be safe when you can't supervise. Set up X-pens or baby gates or whatever. Her mistreatment of the too-tolerant older dogs needs to stop. Period. The end. No warnings, no second chances, no threats, no bluffs. Just end it. You don't need to be mean or cruel, but you must - must - be firm.


This is a border collie. She will build on whatever she learns, whether it's good or bad. Don't wait until she's misbehaving. Catch her the moment she has a bad thought - and make darned sure she un-thinks it.


Don't prevent - train.


Again, best of luck. :)


~ Gloria

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Poodles, you have received much good advice here. (and I have learned a lot by reading this topic). One thing struck me when you were describing your mealtimes - they seem very chaotic. With multiple dogs, particularly if you know one or more may be pushy, I prefer keeping them separate while I prepare their food. They are not allowed to mill about. The most I have had have been 3 dogs, but each dog had to stay in their place while I prepared the food for the gang (2 cats and 3 dogs). The place could be of their own choosing, or with a foster, it was a place that I made them stay. If they wouldn't stay in one spot (early in their training), they were placed in a crate. (I should note that I am only talking about the dogs here. The cats have a mind of their own. :D )


I had a friend dogsit for me once, and she was very worried about feeding my dogs and cats at the same time. She has 2 dogs only, and apparently, feeding time can be a little chaotic. When I showed the the feeding routine, she couldn't believe how calm feeding time was at my house.


Consider creating a feeding routine where all the dogs go to their separate spots and remain there until they are fed.



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Good idea, Jovi. My pack-of-four are also very quiet at mealtimes. Mainly I handle this by sending everyone out for potty walks the moment they're through eating. So, as they finish eating, they are now programmed to head for the door so I can let them out.


Might be harder with a larger pack, though, but definitely an atmosphere of quiet and peace at mealtimes would be a big plus. :)


~ Gloria

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I think perhaps when she got worked up enough being on top of the other dog it was just too late for any kind of reprimand to make sense. Catching her as she was about to jump on the other dog seemed to send the message a lot clearer, and before she got herself worked up. I dont know if anyone else has had this experience.


I wanted to single this out as very good advice (at least IMO). This has been my experience as well. If you can nip it in the bud, so to speak, you might have a better chance of effectively communicating to the dog that this is not going to be tolerated. Once reactivity level hits the high notes, the dog has more difficulty "hearing" you. A caveat: your tone should communicate authority, not excitement, otherwise you can send them further into orbit. That last bit of advice is my own "mea culpa" experience (some terriers are loaded springs!).

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I found a family willing to try out the Rottie mix and hopefully adopt her yesterday. The remaining dogs are unsettled as expected (every time there is an addition or subtraction it stirs and changes the dynamics for at least 3-4 days. Poor Zack has gone invisible again, silently monitoring everyone from out of sight - my youngest son calls him Ninja Dog for the way he vanishes. My hat is off to those that foster regularly. I will not 'get volunteered' again to foster any dogs until my kids are through high school!


If anyone is interested in adopting Zack, please contact me. He cannot go to anyone who isn't an experienced BC owner - he has had enough trauma and deserves a stable, quiet life before going over the rainbow bridge.


Sophie update: I setup some kid play hut pop-up cubes and tunnels to at least teach Sophie to run through them. I have intercepted two attempts to go for Peach. I growl NO NIP as soon as I see her lower her head and stiffen. No actual fights have occurred as of this minute. Sophie has made several attempts to harass Zack and Merlin. Wearing her definitely helps when it is feasible for me. She has decided one of her jobs is to carry a shoe - just one. Think I'll aim for her gathering all strewn shoes and putting them in one pile. Last night I had her carry in some plastic grocery bags containing light-weight unbreakable stuff from the van. One of the bags spilled a few items and she actually went back to pick them up afterward! I'm not sure that I have enough tasks to keep her busy. Her energy level is not as high as Merlin was (think Roger Rabbit on caffeine) at that age, nor as long lasting as most of you describe for your dogs. She was probably bred for looks, not working ability, which will be fine in my situation.


I did take her to a PetSmart puppy class two months ago (I can hear the groans already) for socialization and a few basics. It was the only place on the route between schools that fit in my school time schedule. The good training schools are further away and I cannot take classes at night during school - its a single parent thing. Yeah, it wasn't much, but it was all it could do at her 4-6 month stage. I take her with me in the car and walk her around the sidewalks outside while the kids take lessons or get picked up from whatever. Does anyone know of an agility instructor whose breed is BC in the North Metro Atlanta area? I personally know several instructors but none whose breed is BC.

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Sounds great, Poodles! The more you interrupt the very beginnning of the aggressive act, the quicker Sophie will clue in to what she can and can't do. Good work.


And that's a great idea to have her 'help' with the groceries. I taught my late Samantha to pick up socks and put them in our front loading washer. She loved doing laundry with me.


The pop up cubes, etc are another good idea. That reminds me I need to get out my tunnel and hula hoop for Agent Gibbs. It's really warm here right now, and we need some more indoor activities.


With the PetsMart class - you got her to class. Good call.


You've taken some wonderful and very helpful steps. Thanks for the update!


Ruth and Agent Gibbs

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Sounds like you're headed in the right direction now!


If Sophie was my dog, she'd be on a "Nothing in Life is Free" program.


Anything she wants, she gets through doing what you ask. Before she gets attention, she has to sit or down, before she goes outside she has to wait and give eye contact, before she gets to eat she has to sit and give eye contact.


She sounds like a dog with a lot of potential, but also a dog that is being a brat. So watch for those bratty behaviors and nip them in the bud - pretty much anything that you don't want, be watching for it and put a stop to it before it starts.


For instance, my younger dog likes to push my older one around just a bit (she is pushy and he lets her be) So if she tries to steal something from him, I step in and tell her to knock it off. She gets an "oops - busted" look on her face and leaves him alone.


Dogs are opportunistic social climbers. If it works for them, they'll do it. And Sophie is being a teenage dog pushing boundaries and generally being a brat to get what she wants (not picking on you at all, just my honest opinion about whats been happening!) NILIF will be one way to help make it clear to your pup that her place in the pack is where you decide it will be, not her.

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Sounds to me like you are doing really well at intercepting and avoiding potential issues (catching Sophie or any other dog when or before the idea just begins to form will produce much better results than trying to deal with a fight during or after the fact).


Almost any class, unless it is badly run or teaches bad principles, will be better than no class at all because at least you will have gotten her out and about, had a chance to socialize, and hopefully learned some worthwhile things to implement.


Remember to use the "search" function to look up previous topics that might have relevance to some of your questions. Old topics are a wealth of information, too.


Best wishes!


PS - Can you come help teach my dogs to help with the groceries and the picking up?

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I take her with me in the car and walk her around the sidewalks outside while the kids take lessons or get picked up from whatever. Does anyone know of an agility instructor whose breed is BC in the North Metro Atlanta area? I personally know several instructors but none whose breed is BC.


I think that walking Sophie around (incorporating a little training while doing so) is a very efficient use of time. You don't have to set up a formal training session to train your dog. If you have 2 minutes here and there, 5 minutes later and maybe 10 minutes in the morning (for example), that is perfect for training. It all adds up, and at a young age, they lose focus fairly quickly so the 2-3 minute training sessions are perfect.


Yes, my first choice for an agility instructor would be one who ran BCs, BUT more importantly, try to find one who knows how to train agility regardless of the dog. I love my current instructor, and she runs Rotties. She has never run a BC (or any fast dog as far as I know), but because she is a very astute agility student (she reads everything and has attended a lot of handling workshops) and handler, she can transfer her knowledge to me. Just because someone runs a fast BC in agility doesn't mean they are the best agility instructor.



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