New dog and old dog not getting along

kingmac121110February 14, 2010

My fiancee has a 7 year old west highland white terrier (Mac). Three days ago, we adopted a 4 year old terrier (Sadie) from action for animals. Sadie seems to of had a hard life. She was rescued from a breeder and she has clearly been hit. She is very friendly with myself and fiancee, and her and Mac sleep side by side when they are napping. However, when Mac gets to close to Sadie any other time, she attacks with a full on chomp. We are afraid that Mac could get hurt. He has been the boss of the house all his life. How can we get them to completely get along? How long should it take? Please help me out

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Does Mac avoid Sadie? Does he fight back or return the chomp?

Does Mac yelp when chomped?

If none of those things happen, Sadie may just be showing how isolated she was because of the breeders treatment. Max might just be the best thing for her if he is not responding as his intent might be to teach her.

Her actions may last weeks/months, but should gradually get less chompish and more friendly. Dogs do not care what another dog has been through. That is not a factor for them. Dogs will simply attempt to get another dog into the pack mentality. Which takes time.

As long as Max is not being actually hurt---and showing that by yelps/biting back---then Sadie is not actually hurting him, even if she is biting him. Dogs do not have hands and have to do most of the things they do with their mouths. Just as humans can slap hard or softly, dogs can bite very softly or hard. So appeaeances can be deceiving.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 12:48PM
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murraysmom Zone 6 OH

I would suggest walking the dogs as much as possible. They will begin to form their pack and hopefully Sadie will learn from Max. Congratulations on saving Sadie's life. Sounds like she has found a good home.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 1:37PM
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Kudos for getting a rescue. I agree with walking the dogs together as much as possible. However you really need to stop her behavior. Which means EVERYONE IN THE HOUSE has to be on watch for her. The trick is that you will need time and patience. Take time in the monring to train them together. Take time in the afternoon to train them together, Take time in the evening to train them together. You will need to feed your older dog first each time and every time, making the new one wait. Always reward your older dog first no matter what. Teaching them to sit and stay and leave it, should be done with treats and together. The more you train and walk them together the more the new dog is going to get that things are not threatening. IF you must - go get yourself a muzzle for when she is in the house. IF you must put a choke collar and a leash on her. Have the leash with you or whoever is in the house and have the new pup follow you around all the time. Making certain you give her a command to sit, stay, laydown and come each time. Teaching her to leave a treat is paramount. In the event of her going after the other dog, you should wait a second, then put her on her back in front of the other dog. Dont let her push at you with her back feet (a sign of protest) or let her up until she is relaxed. You can put her in this position without having her go after the other dog as well..This will teach her that everyone else in the house is the boss, and she needs to be submissive towards everyone. Putting her on her back in front of the other dog, teaches her not only that you are boss, but that you are telling her that your other dog is boss as well. Anyone can do this technique, and it should be done as soon after a snap at the other dog as possible. If you do not feel comfortable with handling the dog after she snaps, get a spray bottle to stop her aggression, then put her on her back until she calms down. Good luck.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 6:05PM
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The dogs need to work out who is higher up in the dominance chain, and interfering with that only prolongs the confusion. As long as nobody is getting hurt, allow them to establish their own rules. If Sadie doesn't want Mac too close to her, don't force the issue. Let Mac learn how close is OK with Sadie. Once they work out their own rules, there will be peace.

Sadie will most likely end up ruling the roost because in most cases, female dogs rule. Mac will be more comfortable once he learns his place, and won't resent being lower down. Resentment is a human emotion, not a part of dogs' lives.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 7:59PM
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The Alpha roll (rolling and pinning a dog on it's back) which Mazer has described is archaic and very poor management of the situation and not good for the dog's relationship with the human or with other dogs. It could even result in a bite and will do nothing positive for your relationship with your dog. No behaviorists support this method, and the Monks of Skeets apologized for at one time recommending it.

As Megane has mentioned - let the dogs work this out them selves. Stick with positive methods, reinforcing ('good boy' & treat) every desirable behavior. Behaviors that are reinforced with be repeated.

Please check the link below for more on misinformation and myths about dog behavior and training.

Here is a link that might be useful: AVSAB Dominance Position Statement

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 9:12PM
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Walking them together as much as possible as mentioned is good advice, even if you can only manage around the yard or property. I do this whenever a new dog is introduced to the household.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2010 at 10:18AM
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Cynthia - My suggestions are within current standards for dog on dog aggressive behavior. I used this methohd on my friends Chihuahua and it worked wonders. We had to do it 3 times, and sice then there has been no problems. Remember there are hundreds of different methods to train a dog. Use what works for you.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2010 at 3:59PM
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Mazer, I hope you will read the AVSAB statement. People used to think beating children worked to mold behaviour too :) Yes, aversive methods do have an impact but you can create more problems using them. Positive methods do take a little longer but the results are much better. The original poster's dog is not aggressive. Most of the reactions we see in dogs are fear based.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2010 at 4:58PM
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Cynthia - the op wrote "However, when Mac gets to close to Sadie any other time, she attacks with a full on chomp." THIS IS NOT FEAR BASED BEHAVIOR - it is pure dog on dog aggression due to territory guarding (most territory or resources guarding is NOT FEAR BASED) it is pure aggression and MUST be dealt with ASAP. To correlate putting a dog into a submissive position in front of the dog it has attacked is mimicking a natural behavior among dogs. It is not beating a dog, it is not rough handling or aggressive on my part - it is simply rolling a dog onto its back and holding it firmly yet gently until it calms down. I resent your implications. And as far as your comment about MOST reactions "we see in dogs" being fear based negates a HUGE number of dogs who have behavioral problems. It is naive and dangerous to make such assumptions. Many dog owners need to be firmer with their dogs however if a dog reacts negatively to a firmer voice,or firmer mannerisms then training must be adjusted in order to work effectively with that dog. I can find a hundred web sites or training manuals to validate my suggestions to this OP.
As with EVERY poster here and the people I work with on a regular basis, I am very careful about what I recommend to each dog owner - I am a firm believer that each dog needs to be assessed differently. YOur blanket statement about fear based aggression is ignorant at best.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2010 at 6:56PM
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I do not understand how the dogs motive can be pinpointed by a description on an internet forum. Especially when the actions are described so ineffectively.

Chomp can mean a lot of things. A bite on open air can be a 'chomp'.

I'd like a bit more information, such as:

Is a chomp actually a bite?

Does Mac yelp or cry when chomped?

Does Mac avoid Sadie after being chomped?

Do the chomps happen when humans are not close by?

We really need more information before making absolute statements.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2010 at 11:13PM
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My interpretation of CHOMP - Chomp is a colloquial term for the act of biting. FUll on CHOMP seems to me to mean a full on bite. The OP can correct me if I am wrong.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 1:32AM
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I do not believe that Sadie is aggressive, I think she is insecure and nervous. Sadie is a rescue and while she has been saved physically there is still the psychological damage that must be rehabilitated. It is also important to remember that dog psychology is not human psychology, so while we may want to give affection to soothe a stressed animal, it will only reinforce that state of mind. The three things that will bring balance to your dogs are: exercise, discipline, affection, in that order.

Walking the dogs together will form a bond and drain energy. Pent up energy can cause frustration and result in unwanted behaviour. If you have a treadmill Sadie can be trained to walk on it.

It doesn't matter which dog is older or who's been living in the house longer, the pack leader must always be the humans. If you are not the pack leader your pack may trust you but they can't respect you and you will have a hard time rehabilitating unwanted behaviour. Dogs in a pack in the wild listen to the pack leader. He/she leads with calm, assertive energy. Dogs understand energy, they coordinate hunts in the wild and don't bark orders to each other. Followers never question the pack leader, if they do he/she will first give a warning and if that isn't effective then they follow through with a touch, a bite or pinning the other dog down. I believe pinning down is what Mazer is doing with his dog. It is not humiliating or punishing (unless you do it with anger or frustration). Done with a calm, assertive energy you wait until the dog submits. On the ground on their side is a submissive position (like lifting our head high and shoulders back makes us feel more assertive) and shows not only that dog but others around that you are the pack leader. But it can be dangerous around unstable dogs (who may attack weakness) and I would never try it without being shown how to do it and where to hold the dog on the neck.

When preparing their food no one should be close to you. Make them sit at a distance, give yourself 4 feet or more of space around you, this tells the dogs that you own the food. Then when you are ready to give it to them make them both sit and wait till they are calm, submissive (ears back, not displaying excitement) then feed the calmer one first. Always reward the dog that is the most calm and submissive. Do this in all things, food, rewards, affection.

Never play favorites. When you bring a new dog into your home it should be treated equal to the other pets or this can cause dominant behaviour in the favorite one which can lead to bad behaviour from members of the pack. The order in the house should be all humans #1 and all dogs #2. Pack leaders in the wild don't favor any one dog in the pack, they treat all dogs equal.

Remember that rescuing a dog is the first step in rehabilitating an abused/neglected dog. Dogs can suffer psychological abuse just as humans can but must be rehabilitated using dog psychology, not human psychology. Dogs live in the moment while we live with the past (not letting go of a tragic past event), present and future (is our dog going to bite someone). You can't help an animal if you pity them.

Like with any goal you must envision what you want, picture yourself walking your dog calmly without them pulling or lunging. If we anticipate the worst (a dog attack) we will pass our nervous, anxious energy to our dog who doesn't understand our stress may be related to something else, they will see our weak energy and feel the need to take control of the situation. Someone must always be the pack leader and if its not the human then a dog will take on the role themselves. Watch for subtle clues between your dogs, your older one might be sending messages that start the chomp from your new dog. Dogs challenge each other with their eyes, pay attention to their breathing, their posture, watch if they stop panting and become very quiet. Snap your fingers or say 'hey' (or whatever noise/word you use to correct unwanted behaviour) and stop the behaviour at level 1 before it reaches a higher intensity. You may think that the unwanted behaviour is the bite/attack but it starts before that and addressing it at the beginning prevents it from escalating to a higher level which will be more difficult to correct. Make sure your intensity matches or is a bit higher than the intensity of their behaviour. If they are jumping up on you a bit yelling 'HEY!' is too strong a correction. If they are jumping uncontrollably on you, your guests and the furniture a soft 'hey' won't be enough to correct your dog.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 12:39PM
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