Major help with dominance issues
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Thread: Major help with dominance issues

  1. #1
    browneyedgirl is offline Member
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    DefaultMajor help with dominance issues

    I have a 1yr old black lab, Lucky, who is totally submissive etc...had her since she was a pup

    ~ 6 weeks ago, we got a rescue dog (~1yr old)...he's some type of lab mix..possibly with rat terrier....so our new guy (Blaze) totally tries to dominate...well with lucky its not a big deal cause lucky doesn't care

    but at the dog park, Blaze keeps trying to fight be snipping at other dogs..especially when other dogs come near me, then he goes right up to them and snips at them and growls....today there was almost a fight cause blaze didn't stop and the other dog showed his teeth

    so what do I do? I want to socialize him, but I don't want to bring him and cause problems with other dogs...

    He just recently started obedience classes (which I hope will help) and that trainer said to distract him with food....which works, but at the park I'd have to constantly feed him...otherwise he'll eat it and then go back to snipping/growling

    Lucky has been in obedience since we got her, so I try to keep training Blaze at home

    what else can I do to end this dominance issue? It's gonna end up being really bad if this continues, I can just sense it...

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  3. #2
    WigWag Guest

    DefaultRe: Major help with dominance issues

    Well I think that obedience will certainly help but as far as offering advice on how to stop this behavior at the dog park it's really impossible to do so via the internet. I will say that you really should not keep bringing him there off leash as he could hurt another dog. Imagine how angry you would be if your dog got bit by someone's dog whom they knew was aggressive.

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    browneyedgirl is offline Member
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    DefaultRe: Major help with dominance issues

    i realize you can't get first hand advice from the internet, but since its a lab forum, i thought i'd ask for some advice : I'm sure im not the only one on here with dominance issues with their dog

    After today's incident, he isn't going to be off leash in the park unless its just us at the park, otherwise lucky can stay and i am going to walk blaze by himself

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    theoconbrio is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Major help with dominance issues

    No need to roll your emoticon's eyes; all I think Sharon is saying (correctly, IMO) is that there are wayyy too many things potentially going on at a dog park to be able to give useful advice. Many dogs are just overwhelmed and overstimulated by dog parks and don't do well there, but they can be terrific dogs in all other ways. This is especially true of dogs with strong herding or prey drives. He might be able to tolerate the park after he settles in and you do some work with him, or he might not--there's no way to tell now.

    I'd stay out of the dog park for now and continue working him in obedience and on leash outside of the park. Watch his behavior at class very closely, and work with your instructor to figure out what's going on with him. Feeding him is a good idea, even though it might seem counterintuitive. You are first distracting him, but you are also classically conditioning him to associate other dogs = yummy things for Blaze. You do need to be careful, though, that he does not think you are rewarding him for overly dominant or snarky behavior. The main thing is to keep training sessions short and happy, and take it slow--don't push him too far too fast.

    Also tell your instructor that you want to work on teaching him to be calmer around other dogs, and see if he or she can do some exercises tailored for your specific situation. We do lots of "meeting and greeting" exercises even in our more advanced classes, pairing up overly exuberant dogs (like Theo) with shy or aggressive dogs. The overly exuberant dogs have to work on paying attention to their owners and not saying hi, and the shy and aggressive dogs have to work on not being reactive.

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    browneyedgirl is offline Member
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    DefaultRe: Major help with dominance issues

    this behavior at the park isn't just limited to the park....its to any other dog that comes near me or is walking by...Usually there is no one at the dog park or at the most, 1 or 2 other dogs...there is a group that used to come more frequently and after some time, blaze was fine with them...its like it took him time to get used to who these guys were...

    At obedience class, I distract him constantly by doing training exercises...he is a really quick learner and will do anything for food

    Although its strange, I really think he's a lab/rat terrier mix...his face is so much like a rat terrier, but he does remind me of lucky a lot

    I think I'm going to ask the instructor about the "meet and greet" exercises...

    thanks for the advice

  8. #6
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    Trickster is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Major help with dominance issues

    I'm sure im not the only one on here with dominance issues with their dog
    Who says you are having dominance issues? "dominant" is a label easily slapped on any dog that displays the sort of behavior you are witnessing.

    I agree with the others in that this is not that sort of issue that can be helped with over the internet. Aggression is a tough call...you wouldn't want to follow the wrong advice. You might want to try contacting a local trainer or behaviorist and work from there. It may be expensive but in your case it could prove worthwhile.

  9. #7
    theoconbrio is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Major help with dominance issues

    Quote Originally Posted by browneyedgirl
    there is a group that used to come more frequently and after some time, blaze was fine with them...its like it took him time to get used to who these guys were...
    This is pretty important information. If it's a consistent pattern it suggests that he's rank insecure and needs to know that the other dogs won't hurt him before he loosens up.* I would spend a lot of time in class asking for attention and calm behavior around new dogs. As class goes on you'll probably find that he'll chill out, because he'll get used to the dogs in class. So it may be one of those things that will require constant inventiveness and vigilance on your part. Also be aware of your own emotions and postures. When a dog is insecure and reactive, it's easy as an owner to become tense whenever a new dog comes near you. Dogs are exquisitely sensitive to our emotions, and if you're tense, he'll know it. "Uh oh, danger must be approaching because she's nervous. I better step in and help her out."

    Trickster's recommendation of a behaviorist is a good idea. If you don't get what you want out of the class you're in, I'd look into it.

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    browneyedgirl is offline Member
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    DefaultRe: Major help with dominance issues

    I've noticed from the first class he has calmed down a bit...the first class, he was sitting there growling and shaking...I don't know what happened to him previously, but it almost seemed like he was attacked by a bunch of dogs...he was shaking like he was scared out of his mind....

    last night was his 3rd class and now he is more focused on me and getting that treat...he doesn't really bark that much either...if another puppy in the class starts to bark, then he stares at them and starts to bark, but then i try and distract him again by making him do a sit

    I think you hit the nail on the head with the *rank insecure* notion...it really sounds like that...with that group he got adjusted to, it seemed like he realized "i'm ok here, we're just chilling and i'm safe"

    I guess I should double check my emotions too...I forgot how intuitive animals are

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