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Canine Behavior/Territorial/food aggression


We have a 2 yr old male golden retriever and we recently adopted a 2 1/2 yr old female golden retriever/chow mix from a family that moved into a small townhouse and felt it was too small for this dog. She is the sweetest, most loving dog I have ever seen.  Loves to be rubbed and snuggle and for the most part gets along great with our other dog. And so far she has let our 2 yr old grandson love on her also.  However, the other day, I bought a chew bone for each of the dogs.  She chewed hers up and then went and got the other dogs bone.  When he tried to get it back, she virtually attacked him. It was like a major dog fight. It scared the retriever so bad he hid in our bedroom for several hours.  Now he refuses to eat his food anywhere near her but other than that, they play together wonderfully.  Of course, we don't know this dogs history so I don't have a clue where this aggression is coming from or how to repair it.  I'm scared if my grandson has food in his hand, the chow mix may attack him to get it.  Do you have any suggestions?

People give all sorts of reasons for dumping a dog (and that's what they did, they dumped the dog, on you).  Most of those reasons are lies.

The Chow Chow (and you can only determine by two things: black tongue or dna) breed type and its first (and even second) generation hybrid, is a difficult dog. It is not a casual companion.  This dog may never have seen a high value trophy (and that's what rawhide or any other special treat is) and she first consumed hers (bad enough, given they are not intended for immediate and full consumption) but then appropriated YOUR RESIDENT DOG's who DEFENDED HIS PROPRIETARY INTEREST in social hierarchy in your home and was then attacked, full blown (although it appears no blood was shed).  Do NOT allow this 2 yo baby to interact freely with this dog (more about that at the end of my comment).

You need to have your newly obtained dog evaluated, fully, by a certified applied animal behaviorist (NOT a dog trainer!!  Check credentials and ask for references).  THAT is my suggestion; in fact, THAT is the only thing you can do without surrendering the dog to a kill shelter (where it will be killed) and I certainly do not recommend that.

To find a CAAB, you can check the following site or call the veterinary teaching college in your geographical area for referral; most such colleges should have at least one referral.

Until you find one:

DO NOT give either dog any high value reward items (this includes treats)

FEED the dogs separately (in different rooms) twice daily (morning and late afternoon)

Put a house tab (lightweight leash) on your new dog so you can step on it, or pick it up, should she demonstrate any behavior that troubles you; say nothing, no eye contact, sit and keep the dog at your side for a couple of minutes, release the leash.

Your new dog needs real structure and most likely a behavior modification program that will include Nothing In Life Is Free; however, not being able to evaluate in person, I cannot suggest NILIF.  

Dog to dog aggression is considered a reasonable threat of dog to Human aggression.  Stop giving this dog free attention: make her "sit" before everything.  Do not include your resident dog in this process (since I can't determine the natural social hierarchy between them).  You must use great caution and protect the child from BOTH of your dogs, since a dog can easily "discipline" a child for a "transgression" and, although not intending harm, can inflict same on the tender skin of a young child.  

Find a CAAB. If you can't from either source I suggested, ask your veterinarian and call others.  Normally, a CAAB will have a close affiliation with at least one veterinarian in the area.

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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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