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Shazmnldb

Need Help Please!

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Hi all

Our 2yo female Lilli has started showing possessiveness and aggression towards our friends kelpie/staffie cross Fender who she has known since since we brought her home at 12 weeks. They have always interacted really well with each other but lately perhaps the last few months she has started to get aggressive towards him when we are giving her pats or attention and he wants to join in or around dinner time. It is almost at the point where she can't be around him in close proximity or she will start. Fender won't back down and it breaks out in a full blown dog fight. Our friend grabs Lilli and hugs her to calm her down which I think is completely wrong and I have told him to stop doing that. Lilli is always the instigator so what is the best way to handle this? In my opinion she should be put outside by the collar and told off. Can anyone please advise the best way to handle her when she gets like this to make her understand that the aggressiveness etc is just not acceptable.

 

Thanks in advance

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You need to find a way to discipline without creating a negative association when that dog comes to visit. In this case I would not use a crate, as I think that would create a negative atmosphere, but perhaps if you could leave your dog leashed while in the house and if something happens, calmly take her to another room and shut the door. Even if she is barking, or scratching at the door I would wait till the noise stops and she calms herself down. Once she does reward her for the calm behavior by opening the door and walking her out via her leash, do not let her just burst out or she will no longer be in that calm state. Repeat this as often as necessary, and yes the first several times the friends dog is in the house she will be constantly brought to this room, just do not forget about her and leave her in there even after she has become calm or this excersie will be a mute point because she will not understand why she is in this room for so long while others are out having fun.

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Send your dog away from you and ask her to give you space. No need to actually lock her away, in my opinion, just ask for space.

 

If she goes after him when she is next to you and you are petting her (as you have described) then don't let her near you so much. Petting can be exciting also, depending on what you're saying or doing ( talking to her nicely while you pet her). Asking her to go lie down in the other room gives her less reason to react (not being right next to you ) and is a calmer situation (laying calmly in the other room alone watching the happenings).

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I think I'd take a totally different approach from the ones previously mentioned. IMO, just removing Lilli from the situation is unlikely to help.

 

Your dog is probably guarding resources. What I'd be looking to do would be to work towards changing Lilli's emotional response to the other dog receiving attention or being in close proximity to things she values, such as food, with desensitization and counter-conditioning.

 

If you do a keyword search here for resource guarding and/or desensitization and counter-conditioning you'll come up with detailed descriptions for both. There are also many excellent resources on line.

 

The important thing will be to determine what Lilli's threshold distance is so you can work with her effectively. IOW, figure out at what distance she's OK with seeing Fender receive attention or approach food. She's got to be far enough away from the trigger she's reacting to for this to work.

 

In the meantime, don't let her continue to practice this behavior, as it's self rewarding and will just become more ingrained. Until you're ready to implement a desensitization and counter-conditioning program, don't allow the dogs to be together in situations where Lilli may react.

 

You may find that working with a positive reinforcement trainer experience with reactivity and resource guarding can be a big help.

 

Best wishes helping Lilli to become more comfortable with Fender.

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I'd get some expert help. There's a real possibility that Fender is doing something that Lilli finds rude, and she is letting him know. Border collies have a large personal space bubble, staffies - not so much. It could be resource guarding, too - hard to say without seeing. It could be a mix of things as well.

 

With Lilli becoming an adult dog, her attitude just might have changed towards other dogs a bit. So there are quite a few things that could be adding to her response to Fender.

 

If you seek help, please work with someone who doesn't have a dominance based approach. Lilli may need to have some protection from Fender, Fender may need to learn some new rules around Lilli - like don't bump into Lilli when approaching Lilli's human. That personal space bubble can be a huge issue for many herding/working dogs. Working with it, (if that's what's happening) will make things better instead of worse.

 

For right now, I'd keep them separated. And please emphasize to your friend that grabbing a dog like that could get him bitten. Nobody wants that to happen.

 

Ruth and SuperGibbs

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Good point, Ruth. When I first read the OP, I'd thought the same thing about the possibility that Fender might possibly be sending off signals that the humans weren't aware of. But then I forgot about that when I got around to writing my reply. :P

 

I agree that professional help is probably the best option here. And totally agree that a dominance based approach could backfire epically.

 

So, yes, do please consult a professional. One using positive methods.

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I wasn't suggesting removing her from the situation (locking her in another room), just removing her from the owners side. Again, personal space bubble- ask the dog to go 10, 15 ft, in the other room, wherever she can calmly lay and not be concerned with the other dog. A good place command would come in handy too. If the dogs were once friends, and the trigger seems to be when the owner gives attention, then remove that trigger. Then once you have success with that, try to reintroduce attention to the dogs.

 

Also, what is the other dog possibly doing to annoy Lillie or make the situation worse? Possibly having both dogs practice a good place command together on mats (separate mats of course) could help. Calm excercies like that together can help build Lillie's confidence around the other dog (if that seems to be the issue). It is hard not being able to see what is happening. The problem could be the other dog, the people, a combination most likely.

 

If the situation is really bad and you can afford private lessons in your home, then by all means seek that out.

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Waffles, if I'm understanding you correctly, you're basically suggesting a time out when this happens, right?

 

I don't think that's going to be an effective strategy.

 

And while a mat or place cue is always a good idea, especially in helping a dog to learn self control, I think this is a bit more complicated and needs an approach more focused on the reactivity.

 

JMO, of course . . . I may well be wrong. As you said, it's hard to know without seeing the behavior. But since there's aggression involved, I think it would probably be best to consult a qualified trainer.

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Not a time out and not waiting for it to happen. In general, don't let the dog cling to your side and pet and praise her while the other dog is around. The OP said the dogs get along except when Lillie is at the owners side and receiving attention. My dog isn't always at my side in the house and that is a good thing to me. Clingy behavior, if that's what this is, can lead to problems like the OP is experiencing.

 

I am sure if we saw a video of the situation our suggestions would change. But going off of a few sentence description of the events, I think it's a good place to start by removing the excitement from receiving attention and teaching the dogs to be calm or chill on their own in the house.

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