MemberJuly 31, 2011 at 11:15 pm270
Thanks for your participation in this thread, it is most appreciated.
Based on your inquiry about the pack structure, I would like to state that I am the alpha, or at least I do my best to be number one. 🙂
Meals are twice a day, with each dog having their own area; I point to each individual dog’s rug, say their name and the word sit. I hold my hand (palm toward the individual dog) which gives them a visual cue to wait (and stay seated). Every dog is placed and required to remain seated and only then will I start with the dog who is the oldest (been here the longest) and place the bowl in front of him, I make sure that I know he intends to hold the stay and after a few seconds (can vary a bit based on dog’s behavior, other distractions, etc.) and I then say okay, which tells the dog he is free to eat. This is repeated in a specific order until all dogs are eating. They are all required to stay on their own rugs until everyone has finished their meal, at which time I release them.
Going out/coming in: I usually address the group by saying something like, “Time to go outside boys.” Since all of us may be in different locations, we get to the door at different times but once we have all arrived, I open the door and always exit first, with the pack following behind. Sometimes they come out individually and sometimes they all sort of pour out in a heap once they are in motion but everyone has to be calm (issued either the wait or sit command depending on their level of exuberance) before I grab the handle. Coming back inside is pretty much the same way, although I do allow my active dogs to remain outside longer, however, everyone must wait until I enter and release them to come through the door. This also applies to our gates, no one comes through the gates without explicit permission to do so.
There are no toys or treats laying about and since this specific dog is very toy/treat aggressive, he is isolated when the other dogs get chew bones or toys. I am usually doing something with him during this time so he is not stressing out about the other dogs having something delicious that he is unable to get to. The last time I attempted to give him something to chew on, it was not a pretty sight so I have not tried it again, however, I will give him a squeaky toy and when he starts to get aggressive or growling, I either distract him with another squeaky toy and retrieve the original one as soon as he is distracted with the second one or I will offer him a tasty reward, which he usually loses interest rather quickly in the toy to get the tasty treat. He will get interested in the toy again if I squeak it, but I really have to be careful and at a safe distance before I make it squeak. This is a very tense (and still rather adrenaline pumping) time as I know that I cannot afford to make a mistake. Since there are other issues that need addressing to keep the peace and prevent any injuries, this particular problem is not addressed too much but since it is a non-issue without any toys/treats around, I am okay with what I am able to do about it for now. I now am able to play with him outside (alone) with a fuzzy toy attached to a rope, attached to a dowel, so that he can play. He will go in for the kill sometimes and does not want to give it up unless I offer a food reward, which then he fixates on the treats I have and loses all interest in his fuzzy little victim. Sometimes he is so quick, he will pin it to the ground…I have an image of one of my favorite Rottweilers killing a skunk once like this etched in my brain, which I immediately recall when I see this type of behavior. It’s a total prey drive instinct coming out in him and all he has on his mind is to Kill It!
I have all but extinguished this behavior with the treats (rewards) and milk bones. The only thing I have to make certain of is that they are small enough that he will eat them without any leftovers, otherwise, I would expect him to behave as he used to; the stiff posture, growling, guarding type of response. I do not know how he would react now since I have made sure to work within the margins that will ensure success and no stress for either one of us.
Furniture is off limits, there are more puppy beds around this house than we have dogs, so there is always one available. I do have to relocate his favorite bed/blanket to a new location every day so he is less likely to guard it or its location. Affection – he rarely lets me out of his sight and often comes to me for affection but I move away or ignore him and then come back in a minute or so and offer the palm of my hand and he comes to me and I pet him for a short spell and then send him on his way, usually with something like “Okay, that’s enough”, and as soon as he respects my wishes I tell him he is a good boy. This is probably the hardest part of all because he was locked up for so long and from all outward appearances, is starved for my affection. Crates send him into a total decline so I do not put him in one, instead I put up a puppy gate and place him in the laundry room, two floor length windows to see out of while he is in there.
I hope I covered everything, if not, please just ask and I’ll do my best to answer. Thanks again for the support, it is most appreciated!