We rescued a 6 month old lab (mix?) puppy a month ago (Molly), and brought her home to her "sister" Abby, a 4 1/2 year old sweet, gentle lab we have had since she was 8 weeks old. My husband and I understand dog psychology and the importance of the humans being the alpha. Molly gets that we are the leaders, but she has always been rough on Abby and other dogs. Molly's energy, coupled with the fact that we think she had a pretty rough upbringing (she had a scar on the side of her face, looks like from another dog), always made her really tough when playing with other dogs. In general, Molly is well socialized and greets other people and dogs gently, but when they show an interest in playing she has no problem taking on any dog, no matter what size. There are dog's that weigh 60 lbs more than her that she roughhouses with. We have done things to moderate her play if she gets to be too much, like correct her verbally or use our bodies like the Dog Whisperer to "energetically" stop the action, and make her submit (down-stay) if necessary, but she will chase and nip at the back flanks of other dogs.
We feed Abby first, let her out ahead of Molly etc., but Abby will not put Molly in her place when she starts biting her (mostly play biting her neck). If we throw a stick for them they both go after it and start tugging/carrying it, but then Molly starts growling and Abby drops the stick and stops playing. Molly is now also starting to "claim" the stick first and snap at Abby. She just was very aggressive with Abby when retrieving her stick, and lunged for her and now Abby has a bloody scratch on her nose from Molly, and Abby tucked her tail and ran inside. They both get plenty of structured walks and play time, Molly knows all her basic obedience cues and we train her consistently at least twice a day, and we do not play competitive games with her (e.g., tug-of-war), or allow her to nip us. We crate Molly at night or if we leave for short periods (I work from home). Molly does seem to be toy-possesive with Abby (if Abby has a toy, she lets Molly take it away from her), but Molly will readily give the toy to us if we ask. We had thought that the two of them would sort it out with a little help from us, but considering she just drew blood, I don't think our strategy is working. Any advice you can share would be greatly appreciated!
I don't have time right now to write a whole lot I'm on my way out but I have to comment on something in perticular. Correcting a dog for any behavior, weather you feel it right or wrong is causeing the problem. If a dog behaves in a way that you find inaproprite, redirect the dog or remove the dog from the situation.We don't try to Domninate it (as you would put it)Make it submit. I read in the first few lines that when the dog rough housed with other dogs, and you thought it was inappropriate, and you dominated it by putting it into a submissive posture, your really makeing the dog associate the other dogs and this treatment, your reaction. Which is really going to make the problem possibly escalate. Being an Alpha in the family means that you are in control of all the resourses, food, attention etc.(The dog works for these things) It doesn't mean physical force. I 'm not even going to comment on Ceasar's Millans ways.
We have a friend who has a 100 lb. yellow lab. And she always puts the other dog in a submissive position, pinned down on their back. She does this to show dominance over the other if they are too rough for her (sounds funny I know...too rough for a 100 lb lab?!?! she is really sweet and very patient...but even her patients can run out!)
Now, I am NOT a dog trainer, but this might work: next time Molly does shows some aggression to Abby (taking her toy, playing too rough, whatever...), right away, get Molly in the subimissive position. I think if you try this and make sure that Abby is close so Molly can see Abby so she knows that you are trying to get her to be less aggressive, it might help. It might not, but it is worth a try. I know that dogs do this on their own. Does Molly do this to Abby already? Since she is still young, I think there is hope if correcting the behaviors that you don't like.
Let me know if this helps at all.
***Edited By: Addley on 1/25/2007 4:52:06 PM*** Reason: added stuff
Molly is wanting to be the boss of Abby, which is fine, however, by feeding abby first and letting her out first before Molly, you are changing their pack order and trying to force Abby to be dominant. Treat Molly as the dominant dog, feed her first, let her out first, etc. Never make her submit to abby as that will only increase the problem. Of course step in if there is blood or if Abby seems to be scared or Molly is being aggressive, but I think once you treat Molly as the leader or Abby, it will be better for both dogs. With her playing, remember she is still a puppy, and puppies seem to play a lot rougher than they actually are...lots of teeth, growling, play-biting etc. :)
I do train dogs--actually I work with aggressive and special needs dogs (like the abused, shy, scared) at a rescue and Sue is absolutely right about never using physical force with your dogs, it will only make the situation that much worse. Being pack leader is showing her with everything that you are boss...and I do not mean alpha rolls and hitting. Look up NILIF technique and use some of those on Molly even though she is submissive with you, it will help to solidify that in her mind that she doesn't have to control everything including Abby. :)
***Edited By: Rescuepups! on 1/25/2007 5:04:43 PM*** Reason: add after reading Sue's great post! :)
Here is an article written by 2 trainers that I highly recommend. I like their style MUCH more than that of Cesar Milan.
You're Grounded! by Sarah Wilson and Brian Kilcommons
Is your dog being rude, unresponsive, distracted or out of control? Does he consistently break house rules? Then ground him! Grounding is a simple process that calms, sweetens and refocuses your dog in just a few days. It also can help shy/sensitive dogs feel more secure in the world and confident in you. Here's what your dog must do:
Dogs "say please" by obeying commands. Before you give him anything he enjoys, a command is given and obeyed. Before doing him a favor, like getting a toy or letting him outside, he should "say please." Before you obey his command to “pet me!” or “fill my bowl!” – be sure he obeys you first!
Dogs maintain their group status through day-to-day interaction, so having your dog obey you frequently keeps you quietly in the driver's seat.
When you're grounded, part of the deal is being on your best behavior. If he's in your way tell him to move and make him do so. If he resists, leave the lead on and guide him out of the way. If you're walking out the door, don't allow him to shove you aside so he can go first. Put him on lead and teach him "Wait." Jumping up, nose nudging and pawing to solicit attention stops. No more leaping onto your bed or lap without permission; make him "Sit" or "Down" and then reward him by inviting him up.
Doing chores is a time honored, attitude adjustment mechanism. "Chores" for your dog are obedience routines. Three short five-minute sessions a day will go a long way to bringing your dog’s attitude around. Praise him plenty, but make him work. The formula is simple: Say it, Follow through, Reward.
Organize His Free Time
His free time should be limited. Keep him on lead near you most of the time. Give him a toy or two but hold on to the lead. When you move, he moves. The more he follows you, the more he will see you as his leader. Use commands often and indiscriminately, always calmly insisting that he obey. Why? Because you say so, that's why.
Go To His Room
Most "problem" dogs benefit from a crating schedule. Even if you are home all the time, crate him for at least three hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon. This helps to establish good behavior, stop destructive cycles and teach him to sleep when you're out or busy.
Many problem dogs get too much attention. If you're averaging more than ten minutes of attention per hour when you are home, then you need to cut back. Attention means talking to or petting. Lying at your feet or taking a walk do not count. Going over to your dog and petting him is particularly detrimental. Dogs cannot help but interpret this as submissive behavior on your part. If you want him to be enthused about being praised, make him work for it. If it is a little more rare, it will be a little more dear.
A Dozen Downs a Day
A dozen downs a day for a few weeks will make obedience second nature for your dog, mentally making him more accepting and responsive. Don't do them all in a row. Throw them at your dog when he least expects it.
This much change can be stressful for your dog. Plenty of exercise is required to help him through the first few weeks of this new program. If done properly, he will be getting plenty of attention, but in a more productive way.
Teach some silly tricks or a new command that amuses you. Have a good time with your dog – that is the reason you have a companion. Changing the way your dog relates to you doesn’t mean you stop enjoying each other.
***Edited By: catlover on 1/25/2007 5:11:01 PM*** Reason: x
"Say Please" is a great method...it is very similar to NILIF training (nothing in life is free) and it is really effective in dogs who are dominant...even if it isn't towards you. That is what at the rescue we use to rehab the dominant-aggressive dogs and it works wonders...it takes time and an incredible amount of patience but it is worth it! :)
I agree with most of what is above... and just want to reitterate something...
YOU dont' get to choose who is pack leader. The "older sister" who may be your personal favorite, may not be the dominate dog. You have to let them do with each other what they will. Molly may always be "dominating" with abby, but if that is how they work, then it shouldn't escalate to aggression.
I totally agree that your involvement is hindering them "working it out." You are confusing them, because the reality is exactly opposite of how you are treating them.
AND, I am not faulting you for trying to treat Abby as dominate. She was there first. But, that is not how it works in dog land. That is the main reason why I do not feel comfortable getting a second dog. I love my first so much, I am afraid I would not be able to treat them the same!!
Good luck, and check in here a lot. You are going to get a lot of good advice on this topic that will greatly help your family.
***Edited By: kdubbs27 on 1/25/2007 5:25:33 PM*** Reason: fix
Thanks to all those that responded with helpful comments! I loved the "You're Grounded" article and the insightful tips from other owners. I agree that you don't get to pick the dog pack leader, and that Molly has some growing up to do still, so I am hopeful that she will tame down a bit with age, and some of this is just puppy enthusiasm. I just know that it is not acceptable to have her snap at or attempt to nip other dogs (not just Abby), and it is easier to nudge her down the right path than to try and correct the behavior if it gets worse.
i agree you don't choose who is the alpha dog, they do. i have a 7 year old lab who is the most gentle thing alive. and a little pug who when younger did all the above, except for drawing blood. however, pearl the lab is definitely in control. she allows the biting and all. she's a very "benevolent alpha." the only thing she rreacts to is when mocha tries to nurse off her belly. she growls and steps away. that's all. her discipline is only a gentle nudge when she decides mocha needs it. he goes into his Tazmanian Devil routine if he's annoyed and she takes it. so, maybe some of that is going on too. if it gets too rough i'd separate them. but this little puppy may turn out to be in charge in the end. i read once about lower dogs competing because they are lower dogs. maybe forcing submission to the older dog makes him want to dominate more.