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Hello this is my first time here! I am a first time dog owner and I am having extreme struggles with my 1 year old Australia Shepard mix named Isabelle. She is a very smart and sweet dog. But I struggle with food aggression, she bullies my kittens, and pulls on the leash.

First starting with food aggression. She started this about 2 weeks ago. When I gave a plate to my old cat his favorite food. Then isabelle charged and wanted it too. And a fight started (teeth showing and vicious growl but no biting). I quickly removed the plate and I took my cat away from the situation from being hurt just in case. Put isae in time out in her gate. Then was doing the same with the cat food and did that again with the kittens but nearly snapped at them when were eating food on the couch. (We did put her behind the gate but she got in but we didnt expect she do that while we were eating). I decided to ban all things feeding her from plates, when we are eatting dinner we gate her, and she gets treats/veggies if she does obedience tricks. If anybody can give me in some training for her aggression.

Now we just recently got 2 kittens. They are 4 months old. Isabelle loves to bully and be mean to them. She chases them, mouths, pushes them down with her head, and use teeth but no pressure (the kittens dont meow or are in pain). I cant figure out a way to punish her for this. Gating her didnt solve it, exercise, walks, distractions of toys, and telling her in a stern voice never works she thinks it is praise (I never yell or hurt her). But she also adores them like playing with the laser pointer together, sleeping/cuddling, and gets extremely worried if they get stuck (she immediately informs me and leads me to see where they are stuck). It was playmates at first all the time but now it is pure jealousy.

Her last problem is that she pulls during walks. She pulls so hard she suffocating herself and I dont want her to hurt herself. We tried two methods. One she had a collar that she had when we adopted her that was a minor choke collar but make out of fabric. That didnt work. Then my neighbor who has two dogs said a pinch collar. I really didnt wanna do that but I took her suggestion. Worked for 2 weeks of less pulling. But soon got over it. I took it off immediately cause it just hurt me to see that on her neck. I know I should try a harness but I am not sure which one I should get for a medium small dog who pulls as much as her. I need some good ways how to train her to not to pull so hard. She wants to smell, run, look at everything, say hi to kids/family, if scared she cannot calm down (gunshot like noise or fire works), and squirrels. It hurts my back pretty bad walking her.

If any body could give me some advice, videos, or links to train my dog that would be extremely helpful for me. Thank you so much

What I use to train:

Clicker
Praise
Variety of food
 

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Feed the cats in a room the dog isn't allowed in. My cat has her own room- we started with a gate, and gradually phased it out- with her litter box and food. If we didn't have this, there would certainly be food scuffles. Perhaps you could feed the cats in one room, and keep your dog with you, feeding treats, where she can see them, to show her that cats eating doesn't mean she's excluded form food.

Keep her on a lead when she's in a mood to play with the kittens. Never allow her to even start chasing them. Reward for sit-stay and watching, but not chasing, the cats. Work on "watch me" in the presence of kittens. If at any time she restrains herself, give her a huge reward. And keep redirecting to a toy. We did this so much that my BC has started to redirect herself- when she's tempted, she runs straight for a squeaky toy.

When she pulls, either stop or turn around and walk in the opposite direction. This deals with the root cause- the dog wants to go somewhere faster, so she pulls. If pulling has the opposite effect, she'll eventually stop. (warning- you may end up walking in circles your whole walk lol)
 

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1. Feed animals separate and out if sight of each other. Cats get meals. Dog gets meals. All in separate places. Crate the dog when dog is eating. Leave dog in crate while cats eat. After everyone is finished, pick food bowls up

2. Kittens. Do not allow this mouthing. The rule is no cats in the dog's mouth. You need to be clear, firm and maybe loud. A leash is helpful. You get between dog and kitten, quickly step into the dog's personal space and tell the dog FIRMLY "NOT your Cat!" The words are actually saying to the dog what your body language is conveying. The dog should look concerned or worried and look at you. DO NOT CODDLE the dog. Just do this, be clear, move on and get the dog engaged with something else. The dog WILL kill those kittens mouthing them. The dog must be clear that cats are not chew toys.

If you are unable to be clear and firm with the dog, rehome the kittens. Letting the dog mouth the kittens is very unfair and cruel to the kittens. Adoration is fine. Mouthing is not.

3. Pulling. Focus on you is the name of the game. If the dog is paying attention to you, the dog is not pulling to go away from you. Dogs pull and we pull back. The dog now pulls MORE. It is called oppositional reflex. Your job is to keep the leash slack.

Dog is on leash.. starts to head away from you. BEFORE the dog gets to the end of the leash, change direction.. dog starts to follow, then goes past.. as she is going past and before the leash tightens, change direction again... Rinse and repeat. You may not go far, but done correctly the dog will start to pay attention to YOU.

This solution is not fast.. it may take many days.. but it is effective when properly executed. Remember, the object is the only tightness to the leash is a quick tug when you change direction. The object is for the dog to pay attention and choose keep the leash loose.

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
I struggle with the crate. She is terrified of her crate. She use to be okay in the crate (it was in our family room) but for Christmas we moved it into the kitchen which is right next to the family room. She flipped out, drooled, cried, small turd in the cage, and didnt sleep for 2 days. So I moved it back to its proper place, checked if their was anything sharp, cleaned the whole cage, and got her a brand new bed. It didnt work. So I tried re training her that the cage is okay. By putting bread crumbs trail through the cage, clicked when she ate all the way to the far end I clicked, then went to closing the door (praised), and then did the extending time 5-30 mins each day. Left the room and immediately came back when time was up. She still kept panicking and drooling. Now she knows bread crumb trail gets the cage closed so no treat, meat, or veggie works. So she will not go in. Some people said just let them cry and ignore them. But I am not sure if it is okay.

I struggle with toys also. She loves squeaky toys but she eats them (yes the plastic squeaker) and tears them in a instants. She eats about anything. She is a big chewer and loves it when you throw things. She loves her bone and laser pointers. Which is something that doesnt make a mess, no vet visits, and not going to get new toys all the time (I spent $50 on toys and she destroyed them all in a week). We tried puzzle toys but she couldnt figure it out and got bored of it.

Also thank you all for the advice. I really need it
 

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Put her food bowl in the crate. Put the dog in the room with the crate. Shut the room door. Walk away. Come back in 10 minutes. If food not eaten, take it up. Put it away. Let her see you do this. Repeat at the next meal. She will eventually go into the crate and eat. You won't shut the crate door (you are out of the room).

You need a toy she does not have except when engaged with you training and playing. The rest of the time the toy is put away out of the dog's reach. I suggest a Gappay ball on a rope. You can throw it and you can play tug by pulling the rope. No more squeaky toys. No more soft toys. Get her a Kong. She can have that. If she doesn't play with it, put plain yogurt in it, freeze it a few hours and the give it to her. For chewing get raw beef bones. I give rib bones.

Look at Crate Games:

Honestly I think this dog has your number.. and you lack the skills to be clear with the dog. Dogs like black and white clarity. You describe grey.

l suggest going to obedience classes. It is great you are seeking help here, but using a trail of bread crumbs to get a dog into a crate... You need hands on help.

Family dog obedience would be a good choice if you can find such a class.
 

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It sounds like you need to break down your crate training even smaller. Start with rewarding her for approaching the crate, then interacting with it, then moving a tiny bit into the door, then for stepping inside, then for going all the way, then for staying inside, then for you touching the door, then for you moving the door a tiny bit closed.... you get the picture. Some dogs don't need such a slow progression, but she's already stressed and freaked out by the crate and needs to re-learn that it's not scary. Crate games can absolutely help re-create that space as something fun and positive.

I definitely agree that the mouthing behavior with the cats needs to stop right now. That can become seriously dangerous, even if it's only play. They also definitely need dog-free places to eat, potty, and relax so they do not feel constantly harassed or threatened (and so the dog doesn't decide cat poop is delicious and spills the litter tray all over the floor). My experience to dog and cat interactions is limited, so I'll refer you to Jackson Galaxy for advice on introducing cats and dogs and creating cat-safe solutions for a mixed household.

I'd caution using the laser pointer. It might seem really useful now, but a lot of dogs become extremely frustrated with laser pointer play because they can never successfully catch the light. Some of these dogs start developing obsessive light-chasing behaviors with other reflections in the household and/or serious anxiety, which can become an incredibly difficult problem to resolve. This is especially true for herding breeds, who are already prone to developing obsessive behaviors. Instead consider looking into a flirt pole (basically a scaled-up cat teaser) - something she can still chase around with you controlling, but it's a physical object she can catch and interact with.
 

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You want your dogs behavior to change but you dont want to discipline your dog.
Sorry but i think youre out of luck! The dog will continue to pull and walk all over you bc the dog is your alpha.

spare the rod spoil the child
 

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Dominance theory has been pretty thoroughly debunked - dogs don't have strict social hierarchies with 'alphas' with social groups of their own species, let alone relate to humans that way. And there's plenty of people who can offer their dogs structured lives with clear boundaries without resorting to physical corrections. I personally don't really care if someone makes the decision to use corrections on their own animals, but it's definitely not something required to raise a well-mannered, attentive dog.

That being said, every dog is going to need clear, consistent boundaries and structure. In this case it may involve physical management, such as restricting the dog from parts of the home so the cats can have a safe space and preventing access to food she isn't allowed to have, or consistent training such as not allowing the dog to move forward when it pulls on the leash.
 

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Dominance theory has been pretty thoroughly debunked - dogs don't have strict social hierarchies with 'alphas' with social groups of their own species, let alone relate to humans that way. And there's plenty of people who can offer their dogs structured lives with clear boundaries without resorting to physical corrections. I personally don't really care if someone makes the decision to use corrections on their own animals, but it's definitely not something required to raise a well-mannered, attentive dog.

That being said, every dog is going to need clear, consistent boundaries and structure. In this case it may involve physical management, such as restricting the dog from parts of the home so the cats can have a safe space and preventing access to food she isn't allowed to have, or consistent training such as not allowing the dog to move forward when it pulls on the leash.
this is not a theory. if youre on a walk and someone is leading that walk they are the leader.
if a dog ignores you, then you are not in charge. it seems very clear to me. IDK what other baggage cfomes along with some alpha theory but i am talking about the dog clearly being the leader

regardless. correction is a part of life.
do you know what happens when humans are born without pain sensors? they get completely screwed up and end up in wheelchairs.

correction is there for our benefit and when you remove it you are not doing a service.
 

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this is not a theory. if youre on a walk and someone is leading that walk they are the leader.
if a dog ignores you, then you are not in charge. it seems very clear to me. IDK what other baggage cfomes along with some alpha theory but i am talking about the dog clearly being the leader

regardless. correction is a part of life.
do you know what happens when humans are born without pain sensors? they get completely screwed up and end up in wheelchairs.

correction is there for our benefit and when you remove it you are not doing a service.
Just a bit of information for your reading pleasure -

Dogs do what works (in other words, repeat behaviors) that have previously led to assisting them in getting 'the good stuff' in life that they want (food, toys, attention, fun activities, etc...) and it seriously is NOT an attempt in any way to take over the world, or even their little corner of it along with their human. This has been scientifically proven. Please see the above linked articles, as well as perhaps reading some of the additional links provided at the end.
 

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Dogs do what works (in other words, repeat behaviors) that have previously led to assisting them in getting 'the good stuff' in life that they want (food, toys, attention, fun activities, etc...) and it seriously is NOT an attempt in any way to take over the world, or even their little corner of it along with their human. This has been scientifically proven. Please see the above linked articles, as well as perhaps reading some of the additional links provided at the end.
Literally all you're saying is that they will take charge if you let them.
Yes they will take charge and do what works to get what they want - aka they will be the alpha - if you let them.

What does taking over the world even mean?? TAKING WHAT YOU WANT WHEN YOU WANT IT. That's what works. TAKING WORKS.
It's not gonna set up a small council to rule over the U.N. ya know it's just gonna walk all over you.

You're saying the exact same thing and then just changing some verbiage around and acting like youre saying something different.

Call it whatever you want. I'm not going to get into an argument about semantics and I don't ascribe to any dominance theory.
What I do is not let the dog walk all over me and tug me around and leave me with a sore back like the dog is in charge.

Instead I establish boundaries and then I enforce those boundaries consistently like a good leader.
 

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The term 'alpha' in animal behavior is used to denote the socially dominant or highest status individual in a social group. Therefore, calling a dog 'alpha' implies that their motivation is to have control and/or social status over their handler - frequently called 'dominance'. In this way, 'alpha' is a term inseparable from dominance theory, whether you say you ascribe to it or not. However, domestic dog social groups do not have a single socially dominant/highest status individual - they have no strict social hierarchy whatsoever - and so it's impossible for their behavior to be motivated by the need to control the handler/owner or to display higher social status over them. This makes the entire concept of 'alpha' or 'dominant' dogs inaccurate and sometimes even harmful to finding and applying appropriate training solutions.

Saying a dog that pulls on the leash (for example) is doing it because they are 'alpha' implies that the dog is engaging in the undesirable behavior for the deliberate purpose of controlling the handler and demonstrating the dog's superior social status.

Saying that a dog pulls on the leash because it gets her what she wants is implying that the dog wants to sniff a particular tree and knows that if she just pulls hard enough she'll reach it and get a sniff. No implied intention to manipulate or challenge the handler's social status within the household.

Using inaccurate language like 'alpha' that's closely tied to an outdated idea of canine social behavior that's been thoroughly debunked by modern research can make it harder for people like Isabellethemayor to recognize why the dog is engaging in the undesirable behavior and what needs to be done to fix it. There's loads of nonsense about how to deal with an 'alpha' dog that ranges from silly and useless (like 'eat before the dog') to outright dangerous (like physically pinning a dog down for 'undesirable' behavior) to 'correct' the dog's concept of where she is in the household's social hierarchy... which is a concept she doesn't have to begin with. When we understand "the dog has learned that putting pressure on the leash lets me get to interesting places on a walk", there's a much simpler, more straightforward motivation to work with. Now we know that we need to A: make sure the inappropriate behavior isn't rewarded by what the dog wants and B: an alternate, appropriate behavior does get the dog access to a reward.

I agree this dog needs boundaries, structure, and clear, consistent training. I disagree that it's because she's demonstrating that she believe she's of a higher social status than the handler. I also disagree that physical corrections are necessary to establish boundaries, structure, or clear and consistent training. This is the last I'll say on the matter in this thread.

Isabellethemayor, for the pulling issue (since I'm using it as an example anyway), I'd start at home and do a lot of work on your pup learning how to give into leash pressure. Look up 'silky leash' or 'silky lead' training. It's a very simple method that teaches the dog that pressure on the leash means to give in and release that pressure, instead of their natural instinct to pull against the pressure. This instinctive pull against pressure is called the 'oppositional reflex' and we all do it - imagine if someone was tugging your arm and you didn't want to follow, you'd naturally shift your weight and pull against the tug. It takes a lot of training and practice to change a dog's natural reflex to pressure on the lead from 'pull harder' to 'give in', but starting in a boring space in your home and lots of practice will give you a good foundation. This has been a big help with my environmentally-focused, strong adolescent, who is still working on impulse control, overexcitement, and growing in his adult brain. When he forgets himself or gets overwhelmed by the excitement of the world at large and hits the end of the line, he's very quick to immediately let off the pressure again, instead of trying to freight train ahead with his nails digging in to try to haul me on my butt.

I really don't like having a dog haul on any kind of collar when they're learning leash manners due to the risk of injury to the neck, throat, and other delicate structures there, so I go with a harness that keeps pressure off the throat whenever possible (y-front, h-style). If you choose a back-clip harness, your dog WILL be able to put more strength into her pull, even if it's safer for her neck. An alternative may be choosing a harness that also has an attachment clip at the front, like the Balance Harness by Blue-9, so that if she pulls, she can't get the same amount of strength going forward without the leash turning her around sideways. A back-clip harness that keeps your dog's shoulders free is best for your dog's natural movement and comfort, but a front-clip is better than a 'no-pull' harness that actively tightens when engaged, as those can cause discomfort and soreness by interfering significantly with her natural gait. Either way, a front clip is a management tool to save your back and keep you both safer while teaching your dog appropriate leash manners, not a magic bullet that will fix everything with no training. If you go that route, your goal should be graduating her to a back-clip harness or a collar (whatever your preference) as her leash manners improve.
 
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