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Old 06-27-2010, 03:17 PM
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finally figuring it out!

Hi everyone!

I am completely new to this, ti actually took me about ten minutes to just figure out how to post this... lol, never posted on a forum before, but I have read at many.

I have many questions to ask and not sure where to begin, but I guess I will explain who I am and why I am here for starters.

I am seeing a women that has a "pack" as she calls them. She hopes one day to have a dog rescue and has already begun by "adopting" 5 dogs. Apologies if breed spelling is wrong, I will learn as I go They are: Tucker - male Great Pirinese (5yo), Beowuff - male Black Lab/Mutt (5yo), Autumn - female Great Pirinese/Chow/Mutt (19mos), Daisy - female Pit Bull/Dalmatian (9yo and almost completely deaf) and Foxy - female Border Collie (3yo).

They are all wonderful animals in their own right, and behave quite well when dealt with in a one on one situation, but there have been fights between the males and females occasionally and currently Daisy and Autumn can't be in the same room together without literally trying to kill each other.

We have tried multiple version of training and had little success. The males sorted it out between themselves but there is still the occasional posturing and growling but no fighting, Foxy keeps clear and doesn't have any issues with anyone, but Autumn will attack her if Daisy isn't around... If Daisy is around, Daisy will attack Autumn if allowed to but Daisy never attacks Foxy.

WHEW... ok, does that make any sense? LOL.. I can see already this is going to be difficult to explain. OK, so basically, what I am trying to understand is how do you keep a "pack" when there is always a fight for alpha? None of the dogs seem to recognise my GF as the pack leader, they all will back down if confronted and one on one they all listen quite well, but none of them seem too interested in listening when they are in a pack.

Some issues I think I may have identified, but not too sure;

She feeds them irregularly and they are often hungry

they don't get enough exercise all the time, especially the most aggressive, the youngest one Autumn

She lets them "bum rush" when entering or exiting out the doors

I am at a loss regarding what to do with these things and many others... I have watched Dog Whisperer, researched on the net, and even gone to a large dog rescue and can't seem to find a way to help with this and I want to be a part of this process, I just don't want to make it worse.

Any and all help/advice/suggestion/critiques will be welcome!

thanks much,
Jimmy
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Old 06-27-2010, 03:27 PM
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Hi and welcome!


Can you identify any triggers? Like are they fighting over food/attention/a spot etc?


also, great pyrenees are livestock guardians. They protect the sheep from everything...including people and DOGS. So many of them have issues with other dogs.


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WHEW... ok, does that make any sense? LOL.. I can see already this is going to be difficult to explain. OK, so basically, what I am trying to understand is how do you keep a "pack" when there is always a fight for alpha? None of the dogs seem to recognise my GF as the pack leader, they all will back down if confronted and one on one they all listen quite well, but none of them seem too interested in listening when they are in a pack.
I'll include som' reading for you. The idea of alpha and dominance has been largely debunked, but because of popular tv, it keeps getting reguritated over and over unfortunately.

https://www.dogforum.com/dog-training...nce-dogs-4076/



Quote:
She lets them "bum rush" when entering or exiting out the doors
Iam assuming you mention this because alot of dominance trainers site this as a pack problem. The dogs going first through the door don't really indicate that they think they are "top dog" they are just bored and want to go into a new room. What this does tell me tho, is your friend hasn't really taught basic manners to the dogs, and that coupled with the lack of exercise can lead to fights absolutely.

she has a mix of dogs that are workers, that don't have a job. That will make them frustrated, and frustration will make them lash out.

Iam assuming all the dogs are neutered/spayed?



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Old 06-27-2010, 03:47 PM
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ditto on the lack of training and exercise... with that many doggy minds, all wanting stuff to do, there is bound to be frustration issues...

how much exercise do they get? think of it this way...

border collies= bred to work work work all day, running around and around sheep and moving them, often over fairly large distances, this requires a lot of intelligence and stamina....

great pyrenees= livestock guardians, these guys are bred to protect sheep from predators, thus as crios said they tend to not get on so well with other dogs, and often will guard their family from strangers. they also need a lot of stamina as they are often left with the flock and have to be ever vigilant in order to ward off intruders...

labs= these guys are again bred to have great stamina, their job is to retrieve retrieve retrieve, labs usually are sort of "rough and tumble" type dogs as they have to do field work, running around thru all sorts of terrain, swimming etc...

pit bulls= again, another high stamina dog, pit's tend to be "multi-purpose" dogs with many working traits, but workers they are, strong too, they can pull and pull and pull, and it takes a bit to really wear them out.

have you noticed a trend here? i won't go on, but i think you get the picture... all of these dogs are from breeds that are physically, fairly energetic... now think about what they have to do mentally... working dogs have very active minds, and need mental stimulation as well as physical... training a dog is something that you should do for the lifetime of the dog... it doesn't always need to be fancy, but giving them stuff to think about and work for every day is important... puzzle feeders and kong toys are good places to start, but that only works if the dogs each have their own space, and/or do not have any issues with resource guarding...

from you description, i'd bet that they do indeed have issues sharing food/toys/space(ie doggy beds/shady spots)

again, like crios pointed out you'll need to identify their triggers... start making a list of all of the squabbles that you've witnessed with as many details as you can think of, hopefully you can then identify some trends.

i'd also make sure that if they are fighting over food (if she is having a hard time with feeding them, is she sure that starting a rescue is a good idea) that they are fed separately...

one more thing... even if the issue is based in dominance (which i do not believe it is ) there is very little that a human could do to mimmick that kind of canine communication... you'll have to come at this from a different angle in order to be successful in solving it...



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Old 06-27-2010, 03:56 PM
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Triggers... lol, well with Daisy and Autumn, pretty much the sight of each other triggers it, although Daisy tends to not be an issue unless Autumn is "posturing" which seems to be Autumns favorite thing to do... she seems to be quite the proud creature.

Food probably... I am not sure though. She says that she has done extensive research into feeding practices and she generally feeds them every 2-3 days and lets them gorge with at least a once a week diet of chicken. I tend to think this is a major player in this as well... my thought on this is that the more they are treated like they are in the wild, the more they will behave like it. It seems to me that the feeding should be more regular (daily) and that they should understand that the food isn't their "right" to be taken as they see fit, but it should be a "nonproblem" which would, in my mind anyway, lead towards more domesticated behavior.

All the dogs are fixed... each one of them as she collected them spent time in the vets office either being fixed or fixed up... Daisy had 8 grand worth of surgery as she had been run over by a car when she was first found and was seriously hurt. I don't doubt that she has the best interest of the animals in mind, and I know that she is making the effort to take good care of them, I just find myself wondering if she is trying to mix too many different "styles" of handling and just making things worse.

She is not planning on getting any more animals until she has her acreage, but when she does, because of the issues already, I am concerned that she will have little more than a wild pack of dogs when she does.

I do want to acknowledge her though, Beowuff was considered to be a vicious dog and was scheduled to be put down, he is now one of the most gentle and loving animals I have ever had the pleasure of knowing... I truly enjoy playing with him so I know she is doing something right.

We were also told that the two females should be left to just fight it out and that they would figure it out on their own, but the last time they got to each other, they were going for the throat... not exactly what I would call a simple contest.

Thank you for the link, I will go read it now

Jimmy
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Old 06-27-2010, 04:14 PM
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Space and excercise... well, we are in the city at the moment, but the lot size is pretty good, about an acre of land total that they can run and roam on. They do get out often, get a lot of attention from us whenever we are there and aren't cooped up during the day. She realizes that she is at max capacity which is why she is working on getting some more land in the country, but I am not certain that more space is all that it will take.

You mentioned stimulating their minds. Any suggestions on what one could do to stimulate their minds a bit more? This is all good stuff and can be very helpful, thank you!

we have been able to ID a lot of the triggers for most of them and are dealing with a lot of it, but with Daisy and Autumn, it just seems to be random... every time Autumn walks by Daisy, she growls or postures and Daisy immediately responds with an all out attack, no pause, just go and Autumn seems to go out of her way to pick a fight. I have installed a "cage" style gate that separates the two of them in the house and allows us to deal with each separately and once they realized that they can't get through it, they stopped trying and can and will sit peacefully next to each other on either side of it with no issues. but if they are let out into the yard together, they go at it every time without exception. It almost seems as though there is now a grudge.

Each of the dogs is trained well, they respond well to hand signals, voice commands and leash training as long as they are separate, but once they are together with one another, it is like there is nothing that works no matter what the combination of animals are. BTW, Daisy is not aggressive with ANY other animal, just Autumn, but Autumn will posture with any female she comes into contact with.

Thanks already for the responses, I am already learning a truckload

Jimmy
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Old 06-27-2010, 04:31 PM
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autumn sounds really insecure to me... daisy sounds defensive... i'd say that if you could work out their issues it may help everyone else to chill out a bit more too...

as i mentioned before, puzzle feeders and kong toys are great interactive, and rewarding toys that help work the dog's minds...

here are some examples of types you can buy:




my big caution with these is that if the dogs have any issues with guarding, they may fight over them... even when you have one per dog, they may still fight over them...

with autumn and daisy i would absolutely keep them separated while you work on their issues... prevent all chances of them aggressing at one another...

now if they are able to be calm thru a barrier like that, it is a great place to start counter conditioning them... basically, they get lots of rewards whenever they see each other...

here is a bit on counter conditioning:
YouTube - Jack Russell Terrier (JRT) Aggression When Blowing in Face | AskDrYin.com

have you guys worked with clicker training at all?



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Old 06-27-2010, 04:52 PM
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Thank you! the counter conditioning makes great sense! I read a lot of the stuff on the dominance or alpha issues and it seems to me that there is half a dozen of one and six of the other with opinions on this matter... lol, almost sounds like listening to people go on about parenting techniques. What I gather from those links the most is that every dog, just like most creatures on this planet, have individual personalities and require more than just a "blanket" solution. Something tailored to suit each situation or animal, based on that particular animal.

I have found certain techniques very successful with some of the dogs, but with others, those same techniques seem quite counterproductive. It seems unfortunate that there are so many people who feel it is more important to be right than to be willing to be open minded and willing to try different things.

Thank you for your suggestions, I am willing to try everything short of abusing them

Jimmy
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Old 06-27-2010, 05:09 PM
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good luck, and keep us posted...

i find that often people get confused between how they approach a behavior with a specific technique and how an overall training philosophy works... for example... positive reinforcement/operant condition work for anything with a brain-stem, but the technique needs to suit the dog... punishment and corrections can work, but IMO come with too much baggage (including suppressed behaviors and "fall-out")to be a good overall training philosophy, AND even more importantly require extremely precise timing to be used effectively... best to hire a pro if you want to use this sort of thing...

the biggest mistake that i see people (including myself ) make is that they expect a bit too much of their dogs...lol... it's the dog's fault! they just SEEM so dang smart! but really they are very good at many things that help them to live in a human world, but these same things limit them, and so they need human help to really get on well... at least most of them do...

anyway... back to the topic at hand

make sure that you don't push the issue with the two that are having trouble... if you are at all clicker savvy, then you can start to incorporate some clicker training into autumns world as she seems to have the most issues (she is also an adolescent...lol... "issues" is likely to be her middle name) be careful to set everyone up to succeed, and slowly raise the bar for them.. this is in all aspects... gaining ground slowly and steadily is actually much quicker than striving to make leaps and bounds forward.... the main goal for now should be to teach the girls that the other=yummy and wonderfully fantasticness... building a positive association for one with the other... goal number 2 is to increase mental stimulation... training exercises can do this... perhaps you can work with everyone else together then alternate between the girls? that way they can all interact to some degree, and get individual attention...

games that are good for this are fetch (if you have any fetchers) flirtpole is good, but it is a one-on-one... and my all time favorite doggy game "101 things to do with a box" basically a game that sets the dog up to win everytime... i'll try to dig up a link, but the only one i'm aware of means you'll need to join the site... i'll put that one here for now
101 Things to Do with a Box | Karen Pryor Clickertraining
this site also has some good info on clicker training if you are interested



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Old 06-27-2010, 09:19 PM
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My understanding is that som' mature bitches just do not co-exist. I have not experienced this, I have four mature bitches, with no issues. But there are dog savy people that insist that it does happen.

Another thing, if there is no obvious trigger, and its seemingly random, time to have the dog checked for thyroid problems and even for brain tumors. Medical things can really screw with a dogs head.

Iam glad you are so open to learning new things. All you need to know about training is learning theory. Learning theory is PROVEN, so everything an animal does will fall within it, all training philosophies fall with it.. The difference with dominance based training is they tend to rely on punishment based techniques heavily, waiting for the dog to screw up, while the positive types focus more on encouraging the dog to do the right thing.

I second the puzzle feeder suggestion. My dogs enjoy them tremendously. You will have to separate the dogs for use. These puzzle toys become very valueable to the dogs, very quickly, because they learn to love them



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