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Dear Fellow Pet Owners,

I have a dog problem and I seek your advice.

About one and half years ago I used to live in a gated community. There were many stray dogs within the community and everyone used to feed them regularly. One day, a female dog gave birth to a female puppy (Putti) right in my backyard. I felt a strange connection with Putti and I began taking care of her. I used to give her milk every morning and I used to play with her daily in the evening (she slept all through the morning on my porch). She was known as my unofficial pet in the community. I never brought her inside my house though. I also did not get her vaccinated or bath her or give her nutritional supplements due to my complete lack of knowledge regarding pets in general at that time. I also regularly fed the other dogs too but not quite as much as her.

When she was 6 months old, I had to move to another city (job-related move). I felt that she would be more happy with her pack than with me, since I never brought her inside the house and I would have to do so in the new city due to the lack of community housing. I also felt that she would not be able to adjust well in a household environment given that she used to freely roam all over the community (~25 acres) hunting peacocks and monkeys with her pack (her father and mother included).

About 8 months after I moved to the new city, I was made an offer to come back and I took it. By now she was 1 year and 2 months old. I could not return to the old community but I rented a house nearby (a 5 minute walk). I began visiting her regularly. I was starting to realize my mistake within the first week itself. She was no where near as healthy as when I had left (8 months ago). She was almost an adult dog by then. There were 4 more puppies born during that time and the feeding order had changed. She no longer had access to enough food and she was also at the bottom in the pack order. She was weak and scared.

I immediately began looking for a new house where I could bring her and adopt her as my pet. During one of my regular visits in the second week, I was shocked to find out she had given birth to a male puppy (Chutti). I immediately took Chutti home knowing fully well that he could not survive without my help. I adopted him and got him vaccinated. Three months passed by very fast and Chutti was now rather big. I now wanted to bring Putti also home.

I did so exactly 4 months after I brought Chutti (I had to get my fence heightened so that Putti would not jump and run away initially). My problem starts here! It has been 48 hours since I brought Putti home and Chutti is baying for her blood. Chutti lived with me for 4 months and he considers me his master and Putti also recognizes me (I was paying her daily visits during these 4 months) and considers me her master but both of them cannot stand each other for even a second (in close proximity). I was assuming that Chutti would recognize his mother and my goal of saving Putti and Chutti would be fulfilled and this story in general would end well but I had never expected what is happening now.

She is currently confined to the house and Chutti is staying outside (in the yard). Chutti is his usual happy self in the yard and only gets aggressive when he sees Putti. I bring her to the yard 5 times a day (at 3 hour intervals) for peeing and pooping (I tie Chutti to a tree so that he can see her but not attack her; he cries like a wolf the entire time she is outside; she does not care much). She has no problems as long as I am standing right next to her. There is a window near the door where they stand and bark at each other (with teeth gnawing) for up to 5 minutes and then go to sleep for a few hours.

Questions:
- Is it possible that Chutti (who is growing bigger by the day; he is currently a little smaller than Putti) would never recognize Putti as his mother (I believe Putti does recognize her son because she makes the high pitched noise that female dogs make to call their puppies)?
- Is it possible for me to somehow make them accept each other and live together happily?
- Is this situation causing unbearable stress on Putti? If yes, how can I help her?
- Chutti is also not eating properly. Is this due to the stress on him due to this other dog that he sees? How can I calm him down?
- What will happen if I let Chutti inside the house and let them deal with the issue themselves? Is this an acceptable course of action?
- Putti is constantly trying to jump over the fence (when I bring her to the yard), trying to run away. How can I make her stop doing this? Will she ever adjust to this new environment and accept it as her home? If yes, how long would it take (days/weeks/months)?
- Putti also has problems adjusting to her belt (she never wore one until now). Will she adjust to it soon?

I cannot and will not take Putti back just to ease my life and also make Chutti happy. That is not an option. I cannot live my life happily knowing that Putti may or may not have fed properly during any given day. I hope all of you can understand this.

I will be looking forward to your reply.

I have also contacted a local kennel club and hired a trainer to sort out this issue. He is due to visit tomorrow. I hope he does some magic and solves this problem.

Thanks.

Regards,
Palodia
 

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Sounds like a very complicated situation and I'm pleased you've sought outside help. I do hope the trainer can put together a protocol for you.

In the mean time you may want to consider rehoming one of the dogs. There is that chance they'll never get along and you'll have to weigh that option versus a significant management project. You should also figure out a way to keep Chutti from rehearsing the problem behavior. Using screens to block the dog's view of one another, and instead of tying him to tree, place him in a crate out of view. If the initial trigger is visual, minimize this trigger as much as possible. Hopefully the trainer can devise ways to recondition the trigger in an effective way for your situation.

No, do not let these dogs figure it out on their own. Had you known their history better, had you known their bite inhibition with other dogs, maybe, but this is not the case. It's better to extinguish the behavior and try a more controlled approach. Again, hopefully your trainer can help you with this.

I would ask your trainer if there are any growl classes in your area. Perhaps Chutti is a candidate for one.

Good luck and keep us posted!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Sounds like a very complicated situation and I'm pleased you've sought outside help.
Thanks. Sharing this with you guys lifted a huge load off my back. The stress was almost starting to form ulcers in my stomach!

I do hope the trainer can put together a protocol for you.
The trainer came today and we made a lot of progress. He used muzzles at first and diagnosed the problem. It was starting at Chutti and not Putti as I had assumed. Putti being the older one had enough manners and socializing skills and she had no problems getting the right signals from the trainer. Chutti was just being a territorial male and the trainer calmed him down (albeit with a strong hand). He is due to visit every day this week in order to completely train Chutti.

In the mean time you may want to consider rehoming one of the dogs. There is that chance they'll never get along and you'll have to weigh that option versus a significant management project.
You have no idea how relieve I am after today's development. I had spent 3 sleepless nights (I almost never lose sleep; not even over my job) worrying about this. :)

You should also figure out a way to keep Chutti from rehearsing the problem behavior. Using screens to block the dog's view of one another, and instead of tying him to tree, place him in a crate out of view. If the initial trigger is visual, minimize this trigger as much as possible. Hopefully the trainer can devise ways to recondition the trigger in an effective way for your situation.
The trainer told me the opposite actually. He told me remove all the obstacles between them and that it will help them to understand each other. I am having both of them in my bedroom today. Putti is free and Chutti is leashed to my bed. This is to prevent Chutti from launching an attack on Putti randomly in the middle of the night.

I would ask your trainer if there are any growl classes in your area. Perhaps Chutti is a candidate for one.
Yes. He has already noted this down. He said he will work on it later as it is not a very serious issue. He told me that he had seen growling that was 1,000 times worse than this one. :)

Good luck and keep us posted!
Thanks. I will. :)
 

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The trainer told me the opposite actually. He told me remove all the obstacles between them and that it will help them to understand each other. I am having both of them in my bedroom today. Putti is free and Chutti is leashed to my bed. This is to prevent Chutti from launching an attack on Putti randomly in the middle of the night.
Sounds like your trainer is from an older school of training. I hope he's insured. I don't know any prudent trainer who would advise flooding the dog after one brief visit. It's a bit odd, so I hope the progress continues, and the problem is not as bad as you initially described.
 

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What do you mean by flooding?
Forcing the dog to face the trigger of his emotional response. In this case Putti is the trigger and Chutti is forced to stay in the same room with her. If Chutti's stress over Putti is too much, Chutti may learn to hide his emotions; it's not likely that he will learn how to deal with them, if this is the case.

Flooding can work in some instances but it is not recommended as a first tact with unknown dogs, if at all. A prudent trainer would give you a means to change Chutti's emotional response to Putti...assuming the goal is long term co-existence.
 

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He told me remove all the obstacles between them and that it will help them to understand each other.
I think this is good advice. It helps the dogs to see each other's body language. If there's ever any hope of them getting along, they're going to have to understand each other. As long as they can't attack each other, but can see each other, they can start to get used to each other. That's my experience anyway.

Good luck to you and I'll be curious how your trainer handles it and how it works out.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Forcing the dog to face the trigger of his emotional response. In this case Putti is the trigger and Chutti is forced to stay in the same room with her. If Chutti's stress over Putti is too much, Chutti may learn to hide his emotions; it's not likely that he will learn how to deal with them, if this is the case.
He slept like a baby last night. Putti went upstairs to sleep in the empty room on her own volition (may be to reduce the stress on Chutti). :)

Flooding can work in some instances but it is not recommended as a first tact with unknown dogs, if at all. A prudent trainer would give you a means to change Chutti's emotional response to Putti...assuming the goal is long term co-existence.
He told me that in the pack of my house, I am the #1 (the alpha male) and they are fighting it out for the #2 spot and that we must prepare a scenario which will help them decide it themselves as soon as possible and with as little pain as possible.

I think this is good advice. It helps the dogs to see each other's body language. If there's ever any hope of them getting along, they're going to have to understand each other. As long as they can't attack each other, but can see each other, they can start to get used to each other. That's my experience anyway.

Good luck to you and I'll be curious how your trainer handles it and how it works out.
Thanks. I will keep you posted. :)
 

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He told me that in the pack of my house, I am the #1 (the alpha male) and they are fighting it out for the #2 spot and that we must prepare a scenario which will help them decide it themselves as soon as possible and with as little pain as possible.
There should be no pain involved...for the dogs at least. *If* the trainer is being punitive in helping the dogs decide who's #2, my opinion is you have the wrong trainer. Something to consider if you're uncomfortable with what the trainer is doing. My opinion is you'd be better served by a certified behaviorist or trainer who specializes in socialization/aggression issues.
http://www.iaabc.org/suchen/
or
http://ccpdt.org/rstr/index.html

The hierarchy model is meant for your understanding, though it's widely debated if it is useful at all since it has no real application in behavior mod. The bottom line is you need to control reinforcers for good behavior, provide ample opportunity to reinforce good behavior, extinguish/punish unapproved behavior, and minimize the opportunity for unapproved behavior...you would need to do this irregardless of the perceived ranking, and with all dogs involved.
 

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There should be no pain involved...for the dogs at least. *If* the trainer is being punitive in helping the dogs decide who's #2, my opinion is you have the wrong trainer. Something to consider if you're uncomfortable with what the trainer is doing. My opinion is you'd be better served by a certified behaviorist or trainer who specializes in socialization/aggression issues.
http://www.iaabc.org/suchen/
or
http://ccpdt.org/rstr/index.html
O.K.

This is the trainer that was recommended to me by the vet (the one who vaccinated both of them, Chutti twice and Putti once, yesterday).

I had earlier called 2 other trainers and they flatly refused to visit me and told me that what I was trying to do was impossible and that I would have to rehome Putti.

The hierarchy model is meant for your understanding, though it's widely debated if it is useful at all since it has no real application in behavior mod. The bottom line is you need to control reinforcers for good behavior, provide ample opportunity to reinforce good behavior, extinguish/punish unapproved behavior, and minimize the opportunity for unapproved behavior...you would need to do this irregardless of the perceived ranking, and with all dogs involved.
O.K.
 

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Yes, indeed. Besides, I live in India and we don't have any certifications or degrees targeted towards dog trainers or their like in general.
Hey, there are organized dog trainers everywhere in the world. Are you near Chennai at all? If so, check out: http://www.woodstockdogs.com/index.htm

Even if you're not, they may be worth a call and perhaps they know someone in your area who may be able to help you if your current trainer doesn't work out.
 
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