Moved in with boyfriend and having trouble getting dog to respect me as alpha
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    Exclamation Moved in with boyfriend and having trouble getting dog to respect me as alpha

    Attachment 27821So I could really use some advice. I have been with my boyfriend for a couple years now and the dog was already a part of his life. I never had an issue with Chance, our three and a half year Wired Fox Terrier, not respecting me. However, I moved into the house at the beginning of this summer and I am having issues. My boyfriend travels a lot for business so a lot of the time it is just me and Chance. Whenever I try to discipline him for barking, not listening, or even telling him to get off the bed, he will growl at me and even nip towards me. The only issue I have had with him actually biting me was on the boot when we were hiking because he would not leave a marmot hole. I don't think he would get really aggressive with me, but I was attacked by a dog when I was younger so it does make me really nervous. I really just don't know what to do at this point. I don't want to get "violent" with him by using a rolled up newspaper which is what was used on him when he was a puppy, I don't really agree with that, but at this point I really don't know what else to do. I have tried some of the alpha training techniques like holding him up and growling if he resists...but I must not be convincing enough and I am sure that he can tell it makes me nervous. My boyfriend tells me that Chance does not respect me because I am taking over his house...but I'm not going anywhere.

    So I guess if you have any advice or tips on how to get my dog to see me as his alpha I would really appreciate the help.

    Thanks
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    Senior Member CricketLoops's Avatar
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    Re: Moved in with boyfriend and having trouble getting dog to respect me as alpha

    Show him that all good things in the environment come through you -- that you (and your boyfriend, but since he's not having problems, the dog appears to have already figured this out) make the sun rise and the wind blow. Right now it doesn't appear that you're building up any trust, affection, respect, understanding, or effective ways of communication with Chance. The dog doesn't understand why he should value you. You can attempt to achieve this by "holding him up and growling if he resists"... but you're actually probably scaring the piss out of him, and further damaging the relationship. Dogs understand trust, and you're teaching him that he can't trust you not to reach out and rough him up. Wolves and dogs would never exhibit this behavior (holding up/pinning down a dog/wolf and growling at signs of resistance), so I'm not sure why you/some people have chosen to use that as a technique. In wolves/dogs, "submissive" behaviors, like exposing the belly or laying down are offered voluntarily. They are not forced.

    I suggest you start using a "Nothing In Life is Free" approach with this dog. Ask your boyfriend to let you take over most of Chance's care while you work on building understanding and fixing your relationship. Here's the topic on dogforums that talks about this approach: http://www.dogforums.com/dog-trainin...life-free.html . This website also has another interpretation of it: http://sue-eh.ca/page24/page8/ .

    I would also suggest you do more research about "alpha theory" or "dominance theory" in dogs. I think you'll find that the overwhelming majority of canine professionals don't subscribe to those views and have an alternative, scientifically studied and understood way of describing dog behavior and the causes for it.

    Here are some resources to get you started with that research:
    http://sue-eh.ca/page24/page28/
    http://www.clickersolutions.com/arti.../dominance.htm
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0521112711.htm
    http://news.vin.com/VINNews.aspx?articleId=12230

    I also recommend you pick up the book The Other End of the Leash by Patricia McConnell -- it REALLY helps explain why dogs do what they do!

    P.S. OH MY GOD that dog is CUTE.

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    Senior Member spotted nikes's Avatar
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    Re: Moved in with boyfriend and having trouble getting dog to respect me as alpha

    Cricket loops gave you some really good info.
    Stop trying to "BE alpha". Do not physically discipline the dog, or growl at it. As you have seen, you can make them distrustful and bite. I'm guessing your boot got bit, becuase you tried to bump him out of the way of the marmot hole. The whole alpha theory has been disproven as stated above.

    Start using positive training. NILF is great. Teach the dog to come, and teach him other commands like "Leave it", and "go to your bed/spot" (to get him off the bed.)
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    Re: Moved in with boyfriend and having trouble getting dog to respect me as alpha

    I agree with NILF and positive reinforcement.

    One thing I tell all my family members to do at the very least is to get the message straight across that we are in control of all food, toys, furniture, etc. For example, before you give him his meal, "block it" from him, standing tall and assertive. If he keeps trying to get at the food, keep blocking with your body (don't touch him or anything, just block) until he's calm. Then give a command, and when he obeys QUICKlY, then you move and allow him to have access to the food. This tells the dog very simply that without you he will not eat, which is a basic survival need for dogs. The second thing to do, is only put his food down for 15 minutes, and take it away, no questions asked. Again, you're showing him that he doesn't own the food, you do.

    NILF is great because it doesn't harm your dog, and fulfills the need of any breed to work for their food and shelter..

    I hope things go well, my other dog is having some issues too and I know it can be tough but be patient and persistent and you'll see change come!

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    Re: Moved in with boyfriend and having trouble getting dog to respect me as alpha

    Quote Originally Posted by chubby View Post
    The second thing to do, is only put his food down for 15 minutes, and take it away, no questions asked. Again, you're showing him that he doesn't own the food, you do.
    I think this would be a good way for the OP to get her hand bitten by a dog who is already wary of her. Grabbing food from a dog doesn't necessarily show it you control food. It shows it that when you approach you are going to take its things. Snatching up a dogs half full food bowl while its eating isn't the way to earn its trust.

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    Re: Moved in with boyfriend and having trouble getting dog to respect me as alpha

    Quote Originally Posted by HerdersForMe View Post
    I think this would be a good way for the OP to get her hand bitten by a dog who is already wary of her. Grabbing food from a dog doesn't necessarily show it you control food. It shows it that when you approach you are going to take its things. Snatching up a dogs half full food bowl while its eating isn't the way to earn its trust.
    If you're afraid of your dog attacking you if you control his food and toys, then you really need to seek the help of a dog behaviouralist. But from what I know, leaving food out all day is not the best way to show your dog that all good things do come from you. They just see the food magically appear.

    If your dog needs 30 minutes to eat, extend the time to 30 minutes. The 15 minute rule is just a standard that trainers will go by.
    Last edited by chubby; 08-29-2011 at 01:42 PM.

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    Re: Moved in with boyfriend and having trouble getting dog to respect me as alpha

    Quote Originally Posted by chubby View Post
    You dog seems to get aggressive when disciplined, but is there evidence of resource guarding? If your dog is resource guarding, then yes, this method is dangerous and you should seek a professional, but this technique is really for those dogs that are not going to full out attack you
    Resource guarding or not I don't think snatching the dog's food bowl is a good method of earning its trust. If anything it is just going to encourage resource guarding. The OP is clearly not on good grounds with this dog yet.

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    Re: Moved in with boyfriend and having trouble getting dog to respect me as alpha

    Quote Originally Posted by HerdersForMe View Post
    I think this would be a good way for the OP to get her hand bitten by a dog who is already wary of her. Grabbing food from a dog doesn't necessarily show it you control food. It shows it that when you approach you are going to take its things. Snatching up a dogs half full food bowl while its eating isn't the way to earn its trust.
    Agree and disagree with this. If your dog has become aggressive with you in the past over resources, then you absolutely should not attempt to take food from the dog. That's going to get you bitten and it's going to make it a lot harder to fix your dog's resource aggression. Actually, I would never take food from an eating dog unless I was planning to offer him something better or give the food back to him as I never want him to form the association that giving up his stuff to me is unpleasant for him -- that's a perfect way to create guarding behavior in a dog. Even then I really prefer teaching him to voluntarily offer up his food to me if I request it. Teaching a cue, or something, like, "Can I have this?" that causes the dog to back away from the object it's busy with is much better than forcibly taking something from him. If a dog gives you something just because you asked, and is HAPPY about doing so, then we've got what I consider the ideal relationship.

    I do agree that it's important to teach your dog to eat, but I think this is more important for dogs who are picky eaters. It also teaches dogs to become more enthusiastic about meal times, which helps with training. It puts them on a reliable schedule so you can better time #2's as well.

    My dogs are formally fed a dinner once a day (their breakfast meal is turned into treats that are used throughout the day), as I really love a formal meal time for teaching impulse control and reinforcing myself as the provider of amazing things. They are asked to wait outside of the kitchen while I prepare their food and put it in separate spots around the kitchen. Then they're invited to come into the kitchen and eat. They're given a specific amount of time to eat, sort of -- I don't really care if they finish it in 15 minutes, but I do care that they're consistently making progress and don't "quit" on eating. If they make the choice, for example, to back away from the food bowl and go investigate someone else's empty dish or the other room, then fine, but they've lost the remainder of their food for that meal.

    I guess my point is that when you start taking things away from dogs, you have to make sure they understand that their actions have caused the removal of the resource, and that they have the ability to earn/keep that resource by exhibiting whatever you've taught them is good behavior. If you don't make this clear, they learn that sometimes, for no reason, you take the things they love. Does this create respect? I'm not really sure, but it seems more likely to make you seem like a bully. Does it create trust? Absolutely not. Is it a recipe to create a resource guarding problem? Definitely. I would avoid it, but if you feel as though it's necessary, get a certified animal behaviorist to evaluate the situation and create a training plan with you.

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    Re: Moved in with boyfriend and having trouble getting dog to respect me as alpha

    Please don't misunderstand my post. you're not taking his food away when he only had a 1/4 of it....let him eat it, and he should be done 15-30 minutes give or take. Just don't leave a full bowl of food out for him all day. Usually my puppy will finish her food in 20 minutes, but if its not done, and she's playing with her toy, I take the food away so she knows the next time she gets it is her next meal.

    I believe that trust is gained through consistency and fairness. If you are consistently and fairly providing for your dog, she will grow to depend on you and trust that you will provide for her and not leave her starving. This is how I work to gain respect from my dog:
    1. Don't get frustrated, angry, sad, when your dog doesn't listen.
    2. If you want your dog to complete a task (ex. sit), follow through and make sure they do it (in a positive way, of course - ex. give treats!)
    3. Why is your dog not listening to you? Maybe it's fear, uncertaintly, or just stubbornness. Really study your dog and understand where the root problem is
    4. Reward each time a task is completed (ex. performs the "off" command)
    5. Stay consistent! Dogs need routine, structure and consistency. Meal times is just another way to provide routine and structure. Just like a child, a dog needs to know when food is coming, and how long they can have it for. We don't give kids 2 hours lunch breaks during school - they get 1 hour lunch break, and no one really complains, do they?
    Last edited by chubby; 08-29-2011 at 02:03 PM.

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    Re: Moved in with boyfriend and having trouble getting dog to respect me as alpha

    I don't disagree with teaching a dog to eat and eat on schedule. I think it's quite crucial. I wouldn't advise the OP to start trying to teach this with a dog that clearly doesn't trust her though.

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    Re: Moved in with boyfriend and having trouble getting dog to respect me as alpha

    Quote Originally Posted by chubby View Post
    Please don't misunderstand my post. you're not taking his food away when he only had a 1/4 of it....let him eat it, and he should be done 15-30 minutes give or take. Just don't leave a full bowl of food out for him all day. Usually my puppy will finish her food in 20 minutes, but if its not done, and she's playing with her toy, I take the food away so she knows the next time she gets it is her next meal.
    Quote Originally Posted by chubby
    The second thing to do, is only put his food down for 15 minutes, and take it away, no questions asked. Again, you're showing him that he doesn't own the food, you do.
    Sorry. From the first post it sounded like you meant something very different.

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    Re: Moved in with boyfriend and having trouble getting dog to respect me as alpha

    Quote Originally Posted by HerdersForMe View Post
    Sorry. From the first post it sounded like you meant something very different.
    I apologize, the first post does sound strict/unfair and misleading. To withhold food that the dog clearly needs is completely wrong and a form of abuse. Obviously you need to feed your dog what he needs every day. The 15 minutes rule is to train your dog to eat during meal times, which is dictated by you. It's not cruel, or a form of torture. It's structure, consistency and routine. I personally give my puppy 30 minutes because she eats one kibble at a time, and it takes her a really long time to finish eating.

    To reiterate from the first post, I still completely believe that a dog needs to learn that you own the food, and the toys. He doesn't work everyday, nor does he go out to the store and buy them. You are his parent, and as such he should respect you as the provider. At the same time, it's crucial that you show him a lot of love and attention. Take him out for long walks, to the dog park, to the pet store, everywhere! He will associate you with doing fun things outside the house, and also form a stronger bond with you. If you can only choose one activity, definitely go for the nice long walk. Running in a yard is not the same.

    Again, this is just a general belief I have when I start raising a puppy, but seeking professional help is always better

    And yes, please don't use any kind of physical punishment. Discipline is not about physical force, but having clear expectations from your dog and enforcing those expectations. Physical punishment can lead to having a fearful/aggressive dog which is dangerous.
    Last edited by chubby; 08-29-2011 at 02:30 PM.

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    Re: Moved in with boyfriend and having trouble getting dog to respect me as alpha

    Quote Originally Posted by HerdersForMe View Post
    Sorry. From the first post it sounded like you meant something very different.
    I agree, it sounded very different. I myself, was just about to post about this.
    I agree that your dog should know that you are in control of all things good. But, I don't agree with taking food from a dog (unless, as HerdersForMe says, you're working on trading up, or giving him something better in return, but that would be a project, not a right away kind of action, something to build up to).

    IMO, taking away something a dog considers important, can make a dog feel like they need to defend it. Again, it's my opinion, but I have seen and heard of situations where someone was told to take away food, to teach their dog that the human is in control, and it actually caused resource guarding where none existed before.

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    Senior Member KBLover's Avatar
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    Re: Moved in with boyfriend and having trouble getting dog to respect me as alpha

    Quote Originally Posted by byrd8424 View Post
    So I could really use some advice. I have been with my boyfriend for a couple years now and the dog was already a part of his life. I never had an issue with Chance, our three and a half year Wired Fox Terrier, not respecting me. However, I moved into the house at the beginning of this summer and I am having issues. My boyfriend travels a lot for business so a lot of the time it is just me and Chance. Whenever I try to discipline him for barking, not listening, or even telling him to get off the bed, he will growl at me and even nip towards me.
    Does he even understand these signals coming from you?

    Notice I said coming from YOU. "My bf gets him to do it." You're not your bf. Your dog knows this. Your signals are different. You may have no working relationship with the dog. Punishment for behaviors the dog doesn't know how to give in response to your signals will make it more difficult.

    Establish this by teaching the dog what your signals mean. You'll build a relationship with him while teaching him that your signals mean certain things too.

    A significant change in context requires re-teaching. A whole new person giving the signals is a pretty big shift in context.


    Quote Originally Posted by byrd8424 View Post
    The only issue I have had with him actually biting me was on the boot when we were hiking because he would not leave a marmot hole. I don't think he would get really aggressive with me, but I was attacked by a dog when I was younger so it does make me really nervous. I really just don't know what to do at this point. I don't want to get "violent" with him by using a rolled up newspaper which is what was used on him when he was a puppy, I don't really agree with that, but at this point I really don't know what else to do.
    You're right about getting physical - that won't work (well).


    Quote Originally Posted by byrd8424 View Post
    I have tried some of the alpha training techniques like holding him up and growling if he resists...but I must not be convincing enough and I am sure that he can tell it makes me nervous. My boyfriend tells me that Chance does not respect me because I am taking over his house...but I'm not going anywhere.
    What is holding him up supposed to do besides possible scaring him or confirming to him that you are a threat that needs to be growled off?

    You're not "taking over", but you are a new entity. The dog isn't necessarily going to say "oh hai, I'll do everything you want even though I don't even understand your signals to know what you want."

    I remember my arrival in Wally's life. He wanted absolutely zero to do with me and was lost, confused, and scared. Step one is getting him to understand I'm not going to eat him. Step two was teaching him what I want him to do in a non-threatening way. "Alpha techniques" don't teach him what my words and hand signals, etc, mean.


    Quote Originally Posted by byrd8424 View Post
    So I guess if you have any advice or tips on how to get my dog to see me as his alpha I would really appreciate the help.
    Teach him what you want him to do. Forget if he knows it already - he doesn't know how to do it for you because you're a new context on top of any uncertainty he might have about you.

    You'll have to build a working relationship as well as a bond with him. You can do all of this by training with him and teaching him what to do. I would stop with all physical approaches like holding him up and all that.

    You may also have to try desensitization if you think the dog is growling at you out of fear or any other negative association/emotion. You want to correct that before you do anything else.

    "Alphas" guide, protect, provide, teach as well as discipline. It sounds like from your post that it's been discipline - but not much guiding and teaching of how to do these things for you.
    Last edited by KBLover; 08-30-2011 at 02:45 AM.

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    Re: Moved in with boyfriend and having trouble getting dog to respect me as alpha

    Sorry if I missed something but if dog is not eating the food in 15 minutes it probably means the bowl is abandoned and dog is elsewhere, resource guarding does not enter into the equation. I am old school food is picked up and then if necessary to hurry the program next day's food is skipped (I only feed once a day with 90% of dogs) Usually by next feeding most dogs get with the program. This is not "to do advice" this is just way I do it.
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    Re: Moved in with boyfriend and having trouble getting dog to respect me as alpha

    True, but some breeds/dogs you can't ever "win over" OH has been trying to do the same with Izze since he moved in 5 yrs ago lol. Heck she stayed with my folks for a while, they fed her, took her out, provided her every need & she STILL didn't respect them or listen to them. In fact that's why I had to take her BC she was so naughty for them lol.

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    Re: Moved in with boyfriend and having trouble getting dog to respect me as alpha

    Quote Originally Posted by dogdragoness View Post
    True, but some breeds/dogs you can't ever "win over" OH has been trying to do the same with Izze since he moved in 5 yrs ago lol. Heck she stayed with my folks for a while, they fed her, took her out, provided her every need & she STILL didn't respect them or listen to them. In fact that's why I had to take her BC she was so naughty for them lol.
    Doesn't that mean it just takes more than feeding, taking for walks, and providing to win over the dog, not that you can't ever win the dog over?

    I mean, I fed Wally, took him for walks, tended to his needs - but that's not going to make him trust me - I had to specifically work towards it. Not just be like "I fed you, dog, now obey."

    I don't believe there's a dog you can't possibly win over. It might take "more time than is practical" or whatever, but that doesn't automatically imply impossibility.

    Wally's latent learning position.

    Believe in yourself, be the type of dog owner you want to be and you won’t need labels." - Dr. Abrantes

    "I hear, I know. I see, I remember. I do, I understand. " -Confucious says why I love shaping in a sentence.

    "Once you've entered the battle, you've already lost." -Amaryllis' mom on dog and child training.

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    Re: Moved in with boyfriend and having trouble getting dog to respect me as alpha

    Quote Originally Posted by dogdragoness View Post
    True, but some breeds/dogs you can't ever "win over" OH has been trying to do the same with Izze since he moved in 5 yrs ago lol. Heck she stayed with my folks for a while, they fed her, took her out, provided her every need & she STILL didn't respect them or listen to them. In fact that's why I had to take her BC she was so naughty for them lol.
    Depends on what you mean by win over. It's not likely that Izze will ever have the same regard or affection for someone who isn't you, but not "respecting" or listening to those people isn't a problem with Izze, it's a problem with the way they're communicating.

    If you're clearly communicating to the dog that you're in control of all sources of reinforcement, and that the only way to access that reinforcement is to follow commands, you'll have a dog that "respects" you. If you're not communicating that, then you get a dog that ignores you and indulges in reinforcing bad behavior. So the problem, then, is with the method of communication and not the dog or the breed.

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    Re: Moved in with boyfriend and having trouble getting dog to respect me as alpha

    So you guys dont believe he "one person dog" adage? That some dogs have (in their mind) only one "master". Just curious.

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    Re: Moved in with boyfriend and having trouble getting dog to respect me as alpha

    I personally believe in the "one favorite person dog". I am Harper's favorite person, my fiance is Abby's favorite person. They will respond to commands from both of us, they will cuddle with both of us, but Harper is quicker to respond and cuddle with me, while Abby is quicker to respond and cuddle with fiance.

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