Ask the Trainer

Ask the Trainer: My Dog is Attacking My Other Dogs!

Dear Kevin,
Sadie is 10 months old, female, Basenji mix. I am at the end of my patience and don’t know what to do! She has begun attacking my other 3 dogs, viciously! It doesn’t happen often, and it’s not food, treats, toys. She can be laying lazily on her dog bed, another dog walks by, and BAM! Or, when she is sitting by me, another dog wants too join us, BAM! This one I understand, but the other times, not so much.

I can’t afford a trainer, working a second part time job just to give them the best food and care. I cry when I look at her thinking I might have to euthanize her. But I don’t know what else to do. I hope you can help, because it would just kill me to have her euthanized!!

Please help!
Jeannie

 

Hi there Jeannie,

From the way you are describing it, it sounds like Sadie may have a guarding issue. It sounds like she is guarding you and also her bed. Resource guarding is a pretty natural dog behavior, but that doesn’t mean we can’t fix it. Basically when a dog guards it is telling the other dog, human, cat etc. that this is theirs and you can’t have it.

A way that we can fix the pillow guarding is to tether her to something and have her on her pillow. Take one of your other dogs on leash and from a safe distance toss Sadie a treat. Try to walk around and toss treats. Remain at a safe distance. When that is going smoothly decrease your distance from Sadie. Take your time with this. The idea is that good things come when the other dogs are around. If she starts seeing that good things come when the other dogs are around she could even like when they are around.

In regards to her guarding you, watch for signs. Signs can include her staring at the other dog, growling, and/or freezing. If you are sitting there with her and you see her exhibiting any signs of guarding all you need to do is get up and walk away. If you are what she was guarding, and you get up and walk away, she will have nothing to guard. Also by you getting up it will be like a punishment because she won’t be allowed to sit next to you.

If you get up and walk away and she continues with her guarding that means she could be guarding the couch and not the human. If she is guarding the couch do the same protocol I mentioned for the dog pillow. If she does make a bad decision and attacks another dog she needs to be separated for a period of time. Put her away for about 10 minutes or so. If the other dogs do get near her when she is in one of her guarding spots and she does not guard make sure you praise her. The fact that she is 10 months is a good thing. In theory it shouldn’t take as long to fix as a dog that has been rehearsing the behavior for years.

In a nutshell do the protocols I mentioned above. Give her “time outs” if she makes a bad decision. Praise and reward her for making the correct decision. (Allowing other dogs near her guarding spots.)

Thank you for the question!
Kevin Duggan CPDT-KA

Kevin is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT.org)  and is a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator through the American Kennel Club. He currently resides in Ohio with his dog, V, a six-year-old Shepherd/Lab mix, where he operates All Dogs Go To Kevin, LLC, specializing in helping build positive relationships between humans and their canine companions using clear communication, not pain and fear. For more training tips and tricks, and to meet his amazing dog, V,  follow him on Facebook by clicking here.

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