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Hi all...new to this forum because I'm having problems (bet that's not new, lol). I have four dogs...two labs from the same breeder, a Parson Russell terrier and a lab/husky mix. Elvis, the lab/husky is the oldest at 11, then Ripley, lab at 8 yrs, Piper, the terrier is 7yrs and Davey, the other lab is almost 2. All these dogs we've had as puppies, none are new. But our youngest, Davey, has over the last several months developed fairly severe guarding behavior. It started with food, mostly...but has progressed to territory (our family room in the evening). She's gotten into fights with Piper and Elvis where we were afraid there might be injuries. Feeding time is stressful to the point we have to separate Davey from the other dogs. In the evening she randomly is growling at the other dogs as they hang around with us. Everyone is on edge...sometimes the other dogs go out their dog door to the outside...then she won't let them back in. We are at a loss as to what to do next. Have ordered the book "Fight" by Jean Donaldson as suggested. Any other ideas?
 

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Personally I always feed my dogs separately. Mine eat at different paces and one is a bully and will eat all the food. It just keeps peace and prevents resource guarding. I recommend feeding in their own crates (their 'space') or in separate rooms. I know some people get away with free feeding multiples but it just doesn't always work out (never does with mine).

The door guarding is something I'm really familiar with. It is hard to get a good idea of what is going on precisely but Hank will guard doors and try to bite dogs as they enter and exit the door. The solution has been simple for us. If I'm in a huge hurry I just take the papillons out then take him out afterwards (crate him in the meantime). But most the time I just have him sit/stay in a designated spot away from the door until after the papillons have gone outside. I call each dog outside by name and he goes last after everyone has gone through the door. With a dog door that is more difficult... might have to do more separation and scheduled outside times. The guarding is in my opinion likely to escalate.
 

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I suggest getting your lab checked by a vet to rule out any medical issues causing the change in behaviour. Check eyesight and thyroid as well. If all comes back clear, then at least you know exactly that you're dealing with behaviour issues only.
 

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Terrible night...we thought we were making some progress with the dogs being together. Getting Davey to sit and wait at feeding time, feeding them separately. They seemed to be getting along ok...but tonight while we were preparing dinner Davey suddenly attacked Piper, the little dog...had her by the throat, shaking her. My husband had to break it up and he was really upset...as was Piper . She is still really freaked out...kind of staring and not herself at all. Piper actually peed on the floor during the fight, which has never happened before. I'm at a loss...I feel we cannot control Davey and my husband wants to re home her.
 

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Have you taken her to the vet and had her cleared medically?
 

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im wondering, are your male dogs castrated? also, Davey oviousley would like to be the leader of the pack, as someone said before i would feed separately, and maybe feed the 3 other dogs first, and davey last, and let him see, from a safe area oviousley, that the other dogs are eating first. hopefully that way, you will knock him down a peg or two. also, what are the sleeping arrangements like? have they all got baskets, or are you one of these people, that lets their dogs lie on bed and couch?
 

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im wondering, are your male dogs castrated? also, Davey oviousley would like to be the leader of the pack, as someone said before i would feed separately, and maybe feed the 3 other dogs first, and davey last, and let him see, from a safe area oviousley, that the other dogs are eating first. hopefully that way, you will knock him down a peg or two. also, what are the sleeping arrangements like? have they all got baskets, or are you one of these people, that lets their dogs lie on bed and couch?
All this has been debunked. All this pack leader stuff is just a very old theory that is not true.
I have a mild RG. There have been a couple times he though one of the others were going to get some food and started a scuffle, but that hasn't happened in years. I'd really get her vet cleared first. Thyroid problems can cause aggression in some dogs. In the mean time, crate or separate her before even getting the food together.
 

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i have read that before, and have to say i disagree, every wolf pack in nature has an alpha, in a household that should preferably be the human.
i have always trained my dogs like that and it has worked. how can you say this pack leader stuff is not true, how can you "debunk" thousands of years of natural behaviour and instinct?
of course if you take your dog to the vet, and say he is aggressive, they will prescribe some medication or another...but the first think they should suggest, if you dont want to breed from the dog, is castration/spaying.
A dog needs to know its place, im a firm believer in that. i had a very aggressive red cocker spaniel in the past. i saved him from being put to sleep when he was 4. he taught me the hard way. before i meet him i tought, no dog would ever bite me. he was the smallest in the house, ( i had him and 2 huskys, ) and he still wanted to be boss.
the above method worked with him. im not saying its the only way, but it worked for us.
 

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It's debunked because wolf packs do not work on that strict of a order. The study that all this 'alpha pack leader' stuff was based on is flawed. It was done in the 70 with an artificial, captive pack of wolves. In the wild wolves do not act this way. I'm not going to get into all of it here, you can find many sites that talk about it.
I use to believe like you do about being 'alpha' but I see much better results using positive reinforcement. It works, I've tried both and have much happier and well behaved dogs with PR.
As for the vets, I don't think most vets are going to jump right to meds if it is a behavior problem and not a medical problem. And spay/neuter is a personal choice. I have an intact male and a neutered male along with an intact female(who will be spayed). My intact male is not aggressive at all. It's my neutered boy who has some RG issues. Aggression is not caused by a dog being intact. Aggression has many causes, some medical, some behavioral.
 

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i get the impression reading through some of them links, that when someone says showing the dog who is boss, and alpha/ pecking order, people think we mean beating that into the dog?? that couldn't be further from the truth... in my case anyway, there is lots of other ways to make the dog understand.

"It is the human's responsibility to teach our dogs the behaviors that we find appropriate, and reward them when they do the things we like. Just as importantly, it is our role to show them which behaviors are not appropriate in a constructive and compassionate manner that does not lead to further anxiety on the dog's part."

i think that sums it up perfectly. and only because i dont find it appropriate for my dogs, to lie on the couch or bed, it dosnt mean i love them any less than any other dog owner.
 
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