Our expert says:
Dog Behaviour Expert
Hi Nicole, sorry, for some reason and I think it may have been that you put a second post below, I did not receive these in the normal manner! I am dealing with them on this, your new post.
Firstly, I am thrilled that you are such a committed dog owner and realize that you need help! Going to do this in point form as it will be easier to follow.
1. My first suggestion is that you get in a professional to help you. That fighting has already broken out is not a good thing and it could easily escalate and a fight between two bitches is not like two males fighting – it can be very serious and they don’t seem to forget and get ‘over it’ as males do. I have a policy that in cases of reactive behaviour and extreme behaviour, I will do what I can to start you off, but situations such as this need in-house help. Trying to solve these two particular situations via email is like trying to learn how to scuba dive on-line – dangerous! The eating of the faeces is a sign of stress that the dog is not coping and also needs to be addressed. Please contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org with the area you live in and I will put you in touch.
2. If any of your dogs have not been sterilized, get it done as soon as possible. Fights between intact dogs are more serious, on average, than between sterilized dogs – the need to be pack leader is much stronger. Also remember, that pack hierarchy is not something that is fixed – you can have one dog that is pack leader when it comes to food, for example, and another when it comes to a ball. It changes the entire time dependant on the circumstances.
3. In a multi-pack house hold it is imperative that the owner is totally, completely and utterly in control. This is not achieved by force, but by thinking and acting ‘dog’. When a dog does not feel that there is a natural pack leader, situation like yours occur, plus the dog feels it needs to take over as the position is not being filled – this can lead to inappropriate behaviour and in some cases can be disastrous.
4. Labs are wonderful dogs but they are well known to be both food and toy driven. If you have done something ‘wrong’, it is only because people like me have not given you the correct knowledge and tools to tackle these problems – not you ‘fault’ at all. We are all on a learning curve and the most important thing, and I congratulate you for it, is that you realize you need help
5. As pack leader you take control of the resources. One, no food bowls left lying around at any time and dogs are fed totally separately in totally different places. The second food is finished; the bowl is picked up and taken away. The third point is don’t feed in the same place every day until you have this situation under control. Even moving the bowl a few feet will make a difference.
6. As pack leader all toys belong to you. Your lab needs to be able to play and chase toys, and this is fine, but you do this by herself with other dogs out the way and make a habit of short play sessions with you often taking the toy away. You can bring it out after a few minutes and play again, but you ALWAYS end up with you taking the toy at the end with a cue such as ‘finished’. As pack leader this belongs to you and dog is only allowed to play when you decide where and when. These last two points will immediately start to lift you up in the combined human/canine hierarchy.
7. I would like you to read through and bring in ALL the points in the House Rules where I will put a link below. Working with one dog at a time on the Eating exercise as well. These HR are designed in a manner that you are acting in a manner that dogs understand and are based on their natural behaviour.
8. You can start with the notes on the Resource guarding even tho’ they apply to pups, it is the same for adult dogs, but first bring in the House Rules as above.
9. You need to be taught how to recognize your dogs body language so that you can see in an instant when the situation is getting tense, a professional behaviourist will help you with this as well as the modifications needed when the behaviour is unacceptable and I am so sorry, but this is not something to be covered here, do get hold of me!
10. Make sure your dogs are getting daily walks, especially now when the relationship between them is not the best. If possible walk the dogs together as walking and sniffing together seems to increase the bond between dogs.
Think I have covered all the basics and look forward to hearing from you, Scotty
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