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Canine Behavior/My dog is letting my puppy be "his boss"


We have a Chavalier King Charles, he's nine years old and we rencently got a bitchion frise, she is now eight months. There like brother and sister, they love each other but then they don't.
My Chavalier is letting my puppy eat his food. She has her own food but she takes his! My dog is looking up to my puppy, it should the other way around, shouldn't it? When I try to give my dog a treat for good behaviour, she tries to snap the treat from my hand. She also bosses him out of his bed (they share a bed) Once she was in the bed and my Cavalier tried to get in, but she started fighting with him. She doesn't hurt him but..... How do I stop her? My Chavalier would not hurt a fly and his very willing to please.

Thank you for looking and answering:)

Hi, Rachel. Cavaliers are one of my favorite breeds because they are so sweet. What you have going on is because Bichons have a different and stubborn demeanor and is making the house her own. Bichons are a breed that need to be trained and socialized at an early age to avoid behaviors like these. It's too bad that your Cavalier is too nice because it would be an advantage to basically put her in her place. Have you done or are thinking about training classes? I would definitely recommend that.

There is training that you can do for at-home manners. My favorite is earn and reward, which is having her earn her treat or food or whatever. To this day, I do this with my 13 year old Rottweiler. That's why training classes come into play to teach her the basics like sit, stay and come. If she knows those, great!

To go through the first issues, do you feed in meals or is food always down? I recommend feeding in meals and since the Bichon is trying to be top dog, put food down for your Cavalier first. That's a step in maintaining boundaries and learning her place in the household. As far as snapping the treat out of your hand, that's where enforcing the sit and stay to avoid that. And it's extremely difficult, but the best thing is to completely ignore her while she presenting the unwanted behavior. Which can include no eye contact, putting your hand in between, walking away, ect. But extremely important to reward when she is being good. For the bed, it may be best to give them separate beds so your Cavalier can still feel like he has his own space. In the meantime, once your Bichon shows any aggression, she should lose bed privileges. Simply put, she tries to boss him out, she automatically gets a "no" from you and out of the bed. She'll associate her actions with having to leave the bed.

I hope this helps. Feel free to add any other questions or thoughts. Take care.

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Melissa Burg, RVT/Behavior Consultant


I have experience with multiple obedience issues, including anxiety, different types of aggression, introductions to a new pet and basic obedience situations, such as housebreaking, excessive leash pulling and excessive barking. There are several approaches to each behavior issue, depending on the animal's environment, as well as the breed, sex and age. I can also help you decide whether the problem sounds medical or behavioral.


I recently graduated with a Veterinary Technician degree with an emphasis in behavior and obedience training. I spent 5 years working in animal shelters where I trained shelter dogs in basic obedience and corrected behavior issues and educated adopting owners how to continue the training at home.

"Pawfect Pets;" a weekly column on canine and feline health and behavior tips.

Associate's Degree in Veterinary Technology from Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny, Iowa.

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