Territory and Food Aggressive!

This is a unique problem because our Samoyed was diagnosed with glaucoma at 9 months old and has been progressively going blind since then. She is now almost 3 years old.


We have had other dogs in the house, permanent or visiting, and she seems territorial at first but eventually tolerates,even enjoys them being around.

She use to be very active - agility was a favorite of hers, but is less so now. She has just recently become territorial of the area around her, not just her food area when new pets are introduced.

She has been in a house of 2 cats and 2 other dogs for almost 2 years now. One dog just passed away and a new puppy has been introduced. She is more aggressive than she has ever been. She seems to want to overly assert her dominance. The oldest dog is 14 years.

I know this seems so basic - it's a puppy; it's new; protect your space because you don't know this new kid - kind of mentality. But she keeps pushing her boundaries when we allow her to assert initial boundary behavior. The puppy submits every time, but she keeps asserting even after he's down.

Sorry this is lengthy, but I really need help for her, us and the puppy.


Answer:

Thanks for the good overview of the situation. It can sometimes be hard to pinpoint what exactly is triggering aggression in dogs.

It could possibly be that as she is going more blind, this is triggering more of a fear-type aggression. If she does not see you or the puppy coming, she may be startled and retaliate.

Again, this is just an idea. On the other hand, like you said, it could simply be that she's becoming overly dominant and territorial.

You said that she used to do agility - did you do any obedience training with her then, too? Have you kept up her obedience training? When a dog feels like you are not totally in charge, he will always attempt to take over (whether subtly or more obviously).

In this case, I would have a leash and collar on the Samoyed in the house, and whenever she shows aggression, give a one second correction using the leash. First, loosen the leash, pop up vertically nice and firm, then loosen it again - the collar should go tight for only one second. Be sure to praise her when she does not show any signs of aggression.

For aggression, the best type of collar to use is a small link round-tip prong collar. Read more about it on our page about collars.

Another option (if you don't want to leave the leash on in the house) is getting an e-collar, or electronic remote training collar. This does NOT hurt a dog, it simply delivers a static shock, like that of touching a doorknob. This way, no matter where you are in the house, if you see or hear her being aggressive, all you need to do is press a button for the collar to correct her.

If you decide to use any type of training collar, be sure to take 5 to 7 days to desensitize her to the collar. Do not turn it on or give any corrections with the collar during this time. Just have her wear it around the house, give her treats with it on, feed her, play with her, etc.

This will make her like the collar, and will prevent her from thinking that she only has to behave when the collars on.

So in a nutshell, she needs to be corrected (humanely) when she shows any aggression, and praised for the appropriate response or attitude.

I would also recommend keeping up her obedience training to be sure that she knows you are the boss in the home, not her.

I hope this will be helpful - email us again or call if you have any other questions!


Shannon Pennings

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