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Topic: Do I have to get rid of my dog?

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Subject: Do I have to get rid of my dog?
Date Posted: 1/27/2009 2:33 PM ET
Member Since: 7/24/2007
Posts: 2,269
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We have a 3yo lab that was/is super hyper. Last April, we took in a stray puppy that was dodging cars on a busy road. She is just a mut, but a good dog - until 2 months ago.  For some reason, she has started picking fights with the lab. The lab could tear her up, but doesn't. "Dixie" will defend herself, but not fight back. The last fight was bad. Dixie tried to leave, but the mut kept on. We had to get after her with a broom to break it up. The mut was unharmed, but Dixie had a tear in both ears, a deep scratch on her eye, and bleeding bite marks on her neck and leg. All of the fights have involved food. The mut inhales her food and then wants Dixie's. She has always eaten like this, but the fighting is new. Dixie now eats and looks over her shoulder and is very jumpy when eating. Do I need to get rid of the mut, or could something cause this behavior? Help! She really is a good dog otherwise.

Date Posted: 1/27/2009 3:29 PM ET
Member Since: 5/6/2008
Posts: 5,861
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I had the same problem many years ago.  I fed the dogs in two seperate rooms, or one outside and one inside.  I'm just guessing here, but it sounds like the mutt somehow remembers NOT having food or enough food before you got him.  There probably is a way to get the dog to overcome the problem...ask the vet maybe.  In the meantime, feed Dixie in her own room so she feels safe.  It could be Dixie stole a little of the mutts food when you weren't looking. 

Date Posted: 1/27/2009 5:05 PM ET
Member Since: 7/24/2007
Posts: 2,269
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I talked to the vet today. The eating issue we knew about and were told it is next to impossible to break. The attacks are new. She is definitely the alpha dog and tries to take Dixie's food. Because of the severety of the last attack, the vet thinks we need to find a new home for her - one with no other pets. She said we could try fixing her, but did not think that would solve the problem. I did not mention that she accidently bit both my husband and me when we tried to break up the fight. I think it is going to be hard to find a home for her, because she did bite us, but it was unintentional. It doesn't sound right, but she really is a good dog.

Date Posted: 1/27/2009 7:16 PM ET
Member Since: 11/5/2005
Posts: 571
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If you know they have issues around food, do not allow them around food together. Separate them to feed them, keep chewies away unless they're separated, and put them away when you're cooking/eating. Working with a behaviorist who comes into your home would be your best bet, but it will be work and you need to know whether you're willing to do it. If it's all food related, then no, I would not think you need to "get rid of" your dog. But you do need to start managing them better. 

Date Posted: 1/28/2009 1:36 PM ET
Member Since: 12/6/2008
Posts: 245
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I agree with Katie. I rarely feed dogs together (depends on their issues), but I have rescues with dogs I've adopted since puppyhood. I also think that both dogs should be fixed. It is healthier for them and sometimes (yes, only sometimes) can help with behavior problems. When you talk to a trainer or behaviorist specify that you want to deal with food aggression issues. Also, you might consider crating. I often feed them in their crates. They feel secure while eating and cannot start anything while in the crate.
Date Posted: 1/28/2009 6:41 PM ET
Member Since: 6/13/2007
Posts: 4,731
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You should be the alpha not your dogs.  That's probably 99% of the problem, you and your husband need to establish your dominance.  Do the dogs get enough exercise?  ARe the walked regularly?  Why aren't the spayed?  That needs to be done ASAP.  If you try to rehome a dog that has bitten or has dominance issues...PLEASE contact  a rescue group b/c the behavior needs to be modified.  If you take this dog to a shelter it will most certainly be put down.  I have a dog currently that has bitten, has agression was in a rescue but with a lot of work, she is no longer that way. 

NOt that I agree w/ all of his techniques but watch an episode of the Dog Whisper...if nothing else it shows what some exercise can do and how NOT to behave around dogs.  I think he has it right when he says people need to be rehabilitated...not the dogs. 

Date Posted: 2/2/2009 12:17 PM ET
Member Since: 7/8/2008
Posts: 28
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Feed the dogs seperately, talk LONG walks with the dogs to exercise them (up to 2 miles per day)......go to OBEDIENCE school with the dominate dog............try to establish that you are the alpha in the pack......I have a rescue dog that is "food aggressive" also.  We just feed Gromit in his kennel, and let him out after everyone else is done.  But if he ever bit me or any family member.......I don't know what I would do.  There are too many great dogs looking for homes that end up in shelters and PTS through no fault of their own.  I wouldn't put up with a dog that fights and bites.....

Hopefully the exercise and dog obedience classes will help.


Susie and the K-9 crowd:

Connie, German Shepherd

Zambo, German Shepherd

Tex-rescued Min Pin

Gromit, rescued American Cocker Spaniel