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Canine Behavior/aggressive behavior


hi dr. home, we have 4 dogs, ranging in sixe from large down to 10 pounds; he is new in the house, so still getting used to the other dogs, which is no  problem, except for one, who is about 5 or 6 years old, and she is a beagle. the beagle dominates the other, in particular at feeding time. she will growl and bare teeth at the other, running them away from the food, but of course she is eating. once, for no reason, she attacked the border collie, and today she hurt the new peek a boo, i didnt see it happen but could hear the peek a boo howling in pain. so, my question is, what kind of solutions can be looked at in order to stop the behavior of the beagle, in particular hurting one of the other dogs? i feed  them in 2 different rooms, but it does not seem to help with the aggrressive behavior. thank you!!

Adding the fourth dog created a problem in social hierarchy. Beagles are scent driven and not prone to rank opportunism (with other dogs or people) so this is an unusual behavior.  She must be fed separately at all times: behind a closed door.  Put food down, sing a little song, close the door.  After 15 minutes (twice daily, split food portions in half), open door, call dog out, praise lavishly.  Go into room, close door, pick up bowl.  Do not let the dog see you.  If she hasn't eaten, don't worry.  She will, eventually.

Do not hand out treats and observe the dogs with one another over the next week.  Report back using followup feature:

*  When you come home, which dog greets you first?
*  Which dog HAS TO be at the door FIRST when someone knocks or rings the bell
*  What happens if that dog CANNOT get to the door first
*  Watch body language:  lip licking (a calming signal), turn his/her back to the other dog (a calming signal), sitting as the other dog(s) approach (a calming signal); ear set (flat back on the head = fear; halfway back = anxiety; at rest in normal position = comfortable; forward and perked = dominance/higher rank in social hierarchy and giving that signal to the other dog(s).
*  Observe dogs "at play":  who keeps the toy, what happens if another dog attempts to acquire the toy?
*  Observe body language when YOU interact with your dogs:  what happens if you sit down and invite their approach, who does what, when, how.

Because you have a multiple dog household and the bitch in question (spayed??) is food aggressive (at least), you must be VERY CAREFUL in your OBSERVATIONS for the next week.  Keep NOTES.  If you perceive any problem (other than involving food) remove the reason:  toys, treats, etc.  Do not "punish" or "yell" if something occurs between/among the dogs.  You must establish some sort of platform for me from which I can attempt to determine the source of the problem and its rehabilitation.

You really require a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist in this situation ASAP.  I don't know if you can find one in your State.  Look at the following sites:

Food aggression is not uncommon.  It can appear for many reasons.  A scent driven breed type is at higher risk.  The Beagle is bred ubiquitously; if she was unable to obtain sufficient nutrition from her dam (mother), the problem might have begun there: other dog(s) is perceived as a threat to life, itself.  I can't see anything from here.  THIS CAN be remedied.  If you don't intervene now, it might further develop.

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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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