QUESTION: Good morning Jannie,
We have a 4.5 yr old female boxer, Taylor, she is a runt and only weighs about 45lbs. We have owned her for 4 years, I "rescued" her from my room mates before I was married. One of the guys seemed to think hitting her was okay and now I think that this has caused her to be very cautious around guys. She is also great around our 1 year old daughter. Taylor puts up with a lot of ear pulling, pocking, and just a whole lot.
My concern is that up to a few years ago she was great will all dogs she met, they would play and wrestle with no issues. However, here lately, she gets aggressive towards older dogs and dogs around her age but she is fine with puppies and young dogs. I correct her every time she tries to go after the other dogs, but she just does not seem to learn that that behavior is unacceptable. She shows absolutely no aggression to people so I have no idea why she is doing this. I feel like she is trying to be the alpha female, really the alpha dog, and I'm not sure if this makes a difference, but our house over looks the field where all the dogs play and I get the feeling she thinks she owns the field.
Do you have any suggestions on why she is doing this and how I can correct it.
ANSWER: Taylor is absolutely gorgeous!
I am betting that she is NOT spayed.
I feel that her aggression toward dogs her own age and older dogs, and not younger ones and puppies is due to her frustration of not being bred and having her own puppies.
It happens with unneurtered males. They become aggressive out of frustration of not being able to act on their hormonal instincts of breeding.
I suggest having her spayed or breeding her and giving her the opportunity to be a mother.
Breeding is the easy part. Pregnancy and whelping puppies, let alone caring for newborn puppies, is a BIG, BIG, BIG job for YOU.
It is a hard job and is even more than having our own newborn baby because there are many puppies and needs are critical.
Personally, since she is already 4 1/2 years old, I would recommend spaying her.
This will settle her hormonal imbalance and stop the competition of her aggressiveness with other dogs.
If she has been spayed, please let me know in a follow-up to re-evaluate this.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
I apologize, but yes she is spayed. That is why I do not understand the behavior.
Since she is spayed, this changes everything.
Aggressive behavior targeted at such specific age group of dogs is peculiar, to say the least.
It is possible she is showing her being "alpha" of the "territory" of the field.
To change her behavior and show her that YOU ARE the alpha and not her, try this:
At feeding time:
Place her food bowl on the counter or table and fill with her usual amount of food.
Place cookies or crackers (or anything of your choice) on the table BEHIND the food bowl.
Have her sit before you to watch you.
Stand there and eat your cookies or crackers (or what you have chosen to eat) and do not make eye contact with her while you eat.
Do not speak to her or acknowledge her while you eat.
After you have finished eating, place her food bowl down in front of her and verbally give her permission to eat. Use a one word command for "eat."
In the wild, wild dogs, wolves, and any wild pack of animal, has an order: alpha, followers in the pack, and the last and least important. All, follow the orders and rules of the alpha.
Alphas eat first while the pack waits. Unless the alpha allows them to grab some.
They wait until the alpha is finished eating and gives permission to them to eat (if anything is left).
This routine will teach her that you are alpha and she is not, that she is the follower and you are the leader.
To change and modify behaviors, you must "speak" dog. Any behavior must be natural to them; alpha, permissions, submission....
Try this too:
When she becomes aggressive, grab her and push her down to the ground or floor, and hold her down for a few minutes. She should lay with her belly up and legs open and possibly offer a paw. This is to teach her to be submissive to you and that you are alpha. In the wild, alphas make the others submit to them.
Try these two things faithfully for a month and see how her behavior changes.
Keep me up to date please.