Dog is resource guarding owner

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Dog is resource guarding owner

This is a discussion on Dog is resource guarding owner within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; My boyfriend and I live together and we have 2 dogs. Both were adopted from separate shelters. Both are females, both are 35-40 pounds, both ...

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Old 06-24-2012, 09:12 PM
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Dog is resource guarding owner

My boyfriend and I live together and we have 2 dogs. Both were adopted from separate shelters. Both are females, both are 35-40 pounds, both are just over 2 years old, both spayed.

Sable: blue heeler mix. She was adopted first, when she was about six months old (Fall of 2010)
Pixie: not sure of breed. Was adopted as a terrier mix (she does look a lot like a Basenji). She was adopted second, when she was about a year old (Spring of 2011)

We have about a half acre yard that the dogs run around in (only fencing is an electric fence). The dogs got along just fine for the first year. Played together all the time.

Actually, now that I think about it, it has been going on for a while that Sable would hard stare at Pixie on occasion. I'm not sure what would trigger the hard staring (no toys or food nearby), but Sable would be relentless with it. When this happens, Pixie pins her hears back, slinks down, tries not to look at Sable, and walks the other direction. Sable continues to follow Pixie and stares her down. We never liked this, but didn't know how to stop it and it never went any further than that.

About 2 months ago, Sable started attacking Pixie. We've been breaking up fights by grabbing Sable's collar and pulling her away. No blood has been drawn (except for maybe a bitten tongue), but we do see some of Pixie's fur left at the site of the fight.

When this started to happen, I got online and did some searching. Everything that was coming up was about sibling rivalry and dominance. Most articles agreed to treat the dominant dog accordingly (feeding it first, giving it attention first, letting it outside first, etc). So this is what we started doing and assumed that Sable was the dominant one.

That seemed to work up until about a week and a half ago (Sable still did the hard stares, but there was no fighting and we just thought this was part of the dominant role). Sable has started with the attacking again and there have been 3-4 fights in the last 10 days or so. No blood, but still the small tufts of Pixie's fur.

I searched around for dog trainers in our area and we took them both to a place nearby that did a free evaluation. The trainer asked us questions and talked to us for about an hour and a half. The conclusion was made that Sable is bullying Pixie and resource guarding owner attention. The trainer described to us their obedience classes and did a demonstration with one of their dogs. They said obedience classes would help so that if Sable starts to hard stare, we can command her to walk away and lay down in another area until she calms down. Their obedience classes use Dogtra 280 training collars.

Sable attacked Pixie tonight and here's how it went. I was on the couch, not paying attention. Alex (my boyfriend) was laying on the floor petting Sable. Sable was staring at Pixie (who was sitting a couple feet past Sable). Before I knew what was going on, Sable lunged at Pixie and the fight started but we quickly broke it up. Normally, as soon as we can grab Sable, Pixie doesn't try to continue the fight. The last 2 fights that have happened (including tonight), I have had to grab Pixie also because she continues to bite at Sable after the she has been restrained. So it seems the fights are getting worse.

We have been trying to figure out what exactly causes the fights. We have come to the conclusion that they've all happened when Alex was giving Sable attention (either petting or playing with a toy) and then Sable turned on Pixie who was in the vicinity bot not necessarily receiving the same attention. There are still other instances where Sable does the hard stare that doesn't lead to a fight and I'm not sure what causes that. It just seems like Sable gets in a mood and follows Pixie around staring her down. The whole while, Pixie is trying to avoid her (ears pinned, crouching down, whining, looking away from Sable).

So, I ended up typing way more that I originally intended. Thank you if you made it this far . Any advice would be greatly appreciated, can these 2 live together peacefully? Will the obedience classes I described benefit them? If not, where do we need to go from here? Thank you!
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Old 06-26-2012, 01:19 AM
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Years back my family adopted a stray (a female) and a couple of dogs (a female adult and a male puppy) from a shelter roughly around the same time frame. Callie (the stray) started doing almost exactly what you said your girl is doing.

The big difference with our situation is Callie was a lab/shepherd/chow mix and was substantially bigger than the other female (a dachshund/italian greyhound mix). At first there was no blood drawn. But this quickly escalated. The fights weren't every day but were often triggered at unexpected times. It was strictly aggression toward that one dog, she didn't mind the puppy and it was never towards any people. She was gentle and sweet with people.

After a couple of "minor" fights with "small" injuries we didn't know what to do.. we had a small house so keeping them separated was pretty impossible. Callie was my heart dog. I loved her so so much so we didn't know what to do. We asked for advice and the best we got from vets (several different ones) was to either rehome or keep them separated. This was also a few years back and in a rural area and the whole behaviorist notion was an unfamiliar concept. I regret we didn't know about it.

Well one day Callie attacked the other dog and nearly killed her. It was horrific and absolutely terrifying. My mom threw herself into the fight to stop it (we all knew this was wrong to do but in the heat of the moment all we could think of was saving our other dog) and got her hand bit up badly.

I was heartbroken at the thought of having to PTS my girl. I was lucky enough to find a very wonderful lady who took her in (she was told everything that had happened) and kept her as an only dog - and never again did she have any problems. Years later, talking to several people who have worked with similar issues we were told like what you were told - it was over attention.

I would give the classes a shot. I would also keep a very close eye on them in the meantime to make sure this doesn't escalate. If you think this is just too stressful on the dog getting attacked (or if it doesn't improve) then you may want to consider rehoming.

I hope you have success and find the solutions that you need for everyone to be happy. Please keep us updated!
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Old 06-26-2012, 02:16 AM
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i don't have time for too much detail, but a couple of things for you to read:

there is a lot of info in those stickies, to get you started. the classes could be good for both dogs, and will likely help, but not necessarily solve the issue. i highly recommend you keep the dogs separate to prevent any future fights, as you work this out. we have several members here who have experienced similar issues with there dogs, and can give more advice on it.

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