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My dog bites a certain pup.

My parents in law got a pup recently, an adorable creature according to everyone except for my male dog. He attacks her! We have tried all kinds of things, like distracting him, but as soon as you stop and he sees the pup again, he tries to attack her again. Punishing the dog does not work at all, and I don't really believe in that either. How can I deal with this situation, because this does not make the visits very enjoyable.

I am afraid you won't be able to avoid punishment completely. Although most people (including myself) want to raise their dogs in the most positive way, some rank order has to be established at your pack at home. As you might have noticed from the behaviour of the two dogs, this does not go without a blow. It is important that you teach wanted behaviour with treats. Getting rid of unwanted behaviour can often be done via treats too. But you will reach a point when you are certain that your dog understands a command 100%, and effectively gives you the finger. At that stage in his adolescence, he will try to become the leader of the pack. It is then up to the pack leader to prevent this. Although we are much slower than the dog, we have to use our advantages in terms of intelligence and power. If the way of working is like "Rex, come over here" ... "REX, HERE!" ... "REX, BETTER DO IT FAST!!!!!" only then followed by a correcting action or an attractive offer, then Rex will wait till the third command, there is no use of obeying earlier.

Learning new things (or unlearning unwanted behaviour, which is in fact learning other behaviour) will work best with elaborate rewards.
Known commands have to be obeyed swiftly. Extraordinary obedience (your dog comes galloping towards you after you called, instead of at a jog-trot) has to be followed by an extensive reward. Totally ignoring known commands clearly indicates a power fight, and has to be set right by the higher in rank.

If you don't want him to attack the pup (he is sure at least this creature won't fight him!), then you should not let him. In this case, it is not wrong to get very angry with him. If he does not seem to be impressed (he does not show submissiveness by lying on his back and showing his belly, very normal behaviour in a pack), then you can enforce this behaviour by putting him on his back and bending over him while showing your displeasure once more. Other household members who have to be placed higher in rank too, can enforce this by joining. It will become clear to your dog that it is serious now, and that he really is the lowest in rank.
If he does show submissiveness when you clearly display your anger, then leave it at that and turn away from him. You scolded him, he accepted it, and that's enough.

After such a reprimand, most dogs will be so impressed for a while, they will immediately obey every command. This is a nice opportunity to reward your dog again. He then knows it is all over again, and will return to normal behaviour. If he goes back to attacking again, the immediate effect is another correction from your side.

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This page last modified: Friday, 01-Aug-2008 17:07:12 CEST
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