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Canine Behavior/Aggression or Dominance?



1 week ago today we introduced a new golden puppy into our home,where the current resident dog,a 2 year old yorkie lives as well.Since day one,the yorkie has been aggressive towards the puppy and I am at wit's end

Fergus(golden) is 20 lbs and Scooter (yorkie) is 8lbs..I do NOT want fergus to become aggressive towards Scooter now or later.So far Fergus still wants to play with Scooter and while I realize that he can get rambunctious,Scooter takes the correcting too far

I am not really sure at this point if it is aggression or correction.

Scooter just doesn't snap at the puppy,but literally snaps repeatedly and hurts the puppy.Scooter was raised around an older golden who was his best buddy,and I am hoping this behavior will end once Fergus gets bigger..

I need help..I allow them to be in the same room,then separate them so they can take a break from each other.We do walk them together.

Please give me some ideas and tips on how I can make this transition easier for them both

These are the things we are trying

1.making a neutral zone where both dogs can interact for a short period of time,,no toys/food are allowed in this area

2.crating fergus and giving scooter one on one time

3.walking them together

they are fed separately..and my vet's advice is to let the pack hierarchy established itself with no interference from us and we can show no emotion to either dog when scooter gets snappy

Well, "dominance" is a strong term but "aggression" is incorrect.  This sounds more like fear and an issue of social hierarchy.  Fergus is a puppy.  Just because he's the same breed of the Golden doesn't at all mean that Scooter observes this or takes it into  Scooter is not habituated to PUPPIES (hasn't been in the presence of puppies for prolonged periods throughout life, as he would in a dog park, for instance - not that I like those places!)  He's reacting to a large, furry, out of control (from his perspective) unknown quantity (no pheromones in a young puppy) who is getting in his face.  Let's translate this into "human", if it were possible (well, we can try).  You had a large brown teddy bear that you cherished.  Your husband brings home a living bear cub (Grizzly). what?

So Scooter is faced with this unknown quantity that disturbs him and annoys him and is suddenly just "THERE" and is not going away.  The over correction (if he's drawing blood, seriously, then it's over correction) is a fear response, not the normal statement of social hierarchy (which would be: ignoring the puppy altogether, growling at the puppy, grasping the puppy's muzzle thereby leaving marks but not serious, trophying toys, trophying you, etc.)  

Fergus must be on a house tab (lighteight leash with handle cut off) and must be introduced to positive reinforcement training immediately.  See the following:

For whatever reason ( I can't see anything from here), Fergus' invitation to play is not translating as such to Scooter who, at age two (approaching first threshold of adult maturity) is in no mood for this nonsense.  What we have here is a failure to communicate.  If you interfere ("rescue" Fergus) you are then making a statement to Scooter that his status is lower and it will worsen things, but you CAN STOP the interaction BEFORE Scooter finds it necessary to be defensive by a simple clap of the hands or whistle, picking up the house tab, asking Fergus for a trained "sit", praising him, and then removing Scooter (put Fergus behind a baby gate) for a ten second "party" where he must also "sit" on command but gets a treat and a little song with happy faces.  This gives Scooter AND Fergus (eventually) the real signal of who's who here: a Yorkie is no match for a full grown Golden.  And to Scooter, this isn't a carbon copy of his old buddy, this is just an in your face pain in the butt and even a tad scary.

Opposite sex choice would have been better; one introduces resident dog to newcomer off one's territory, walking them parallel, allowing an appraisal by older dog of younger dog, and then once in the home making it plain to the resident dog that this is a "newcomer" (house tab does that).

Give it one more week.  Watch interaction closely: observe Scooter's body language, learn what he does (pilo-erection, growl, ears back, etc.) just before launching an "attack" and truncate it (as described) before it becomes one.  Then report back using followup feature.

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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