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Yes, this is really long. But PLEASE help me out. I'm at my wit's end, and it doesn't look good for my dogs right now... Thank you.

I have three dogs. Patches (6 yrs, aus. shep/dachshund), Belle (7 yrs, dachshund mix), and Muggins (6 months, Ridgeback mix). I've had Belle since she was about 9/10 months, Patches her whole life, and Muggins since February when we adopted him from the shelter.
Patches has always been an amazing dog for the most part. Loyal, obedient, smart, sweet. Belle has been a great dog, too. Not as smart, but very sweet, and doesn't cause a lot of trouble. Muggins is a great pup as well.... Mostly. He's REALLY sweet, he has his smart moments, and he obeys *pretty* well (not the greatest attention span). All three dogs are wonderful individually. The problem I am having, is when they're all together.

Muggins had a major biting issue as a puppy. I tried every trick in the book, and it just didn't work. He was gonna bite, and that was it. He's gotten much better though after learning a few "leave it/drop it" commands, but he will still bite onto your arm and not let go if he gets excited. He also legitimately attacked my hand once when I tried to take a beef cap from him (I know, my fault), and left some pretty severe wounds. That was when he was 4.5 months. He never attacks me or growls at me unless there was an instance not long before where one of the dogs growled or snapped at him for taking something of theirs. Because of this, I fed him inside, and the others outside. I didn't want them to growl at him for taking or coming near their food (because I know he would.. he's obsessed with food, stops at nothing to get it), and then do the same at me. SO, I feed him inside and give him special attention when he's eating (I make him wait while the food is on the ground and wait for him to look at me for awhile before I let him eat his food- which he does wonderfully). However, my dad is fed up with him eating inside. He makes my dogs live primarily outside, even though I tell him how unhealthy it is and that it's not right (to which he just replies, well I guess we'll just have to get rid of them, then). Since Muggins eats inside, he loves being inside. As soon as he goes back out, he scratching at the door like mad to come back in. And I don't blame him, I'd want to be with my pack, too. However, it's not my house, and it's not my rules. he has started to tear up the door, which as you can imagine, does not make my dad very happy. Then, I get yelled at because I haven't figured out a way to make him stop scratching.
Last night, my dad put his foot down. If Muggins doesn't learn to eat outside peacefully, then he has to go. So this morning, I went out to feed them all, outside. I had Muggins food in one hand, the scoop of the other dogs food on top of that, and a leash in the other, which I slipped around Muggins neck when I got outside. Once outside, Muggins starts jumping up all excited because of the food in his presence, Belle starts barking like a mad dog (which she does every meal, but I don't feed her until she's sitting quietly), and I don't even remember what Patches was doing. I have Muggins sit, and then I set his food down. Well, as soon as I set his food down, Patches starts eating it. I quickly hold Muggins away from the food so there's not a fight (still balancing a food scoop), and tell Patches to leave it, which she always does.. Well not this time. She wouldn't back off. Nothing I said would make her leave the food alone. I couldn't believe it, Patches NEVER acts like that. Not only was she not leaving Muggins food alone, but I had also been having a LOT of problems with her barking at the fence lately. She barks at the dogs on the other side of the fence very viciously (even though she's dog-friendly), and then that gets the neighbors' dogs barking like mad. I was able to teach her last year to go away from the dogs when I told her to, and she did that perfectly. All I had to do was snap my fingers and she'd go back to the porch... Well not anymore. Lately, nothing I do will make her leave them alone, and just makes it worse. It's also hard to pull her away when you have a crazy 6 month old puppy trying to get in the middle of things as well. So now she won't listen to me to leave food alone, or to leave the neighbor dogs alone. I don't get it. She's always obeyed perfectly. What am I doing wrong? Do I need to spend more attention?
Anyways, I finally just give up and go put Muggins inside, then come back out and physically remove her from his food, and put her in a cage. I then fed Belle, brought Muggins back out, fed him, and then eventually let Patches out.
I will also admit, that I lost my temper, which I know made things worse. I just don't know what to do with them. I love my dogs so much, and do everything I can for them. People always marvel at how well-trained they are, but not lately they aren't! I'm just at a loss right now. I have no idea what to do next. How can I feed them all three together peacefully? Do I just let them work it out? I'd hate for them to get in a fight, and even more I'd hate for them to get in a fight over food and then Muggins attack me because that's what the other dogs did to him, which is what happened before.
And what's going on with Patches? Why did she stop listening to me?

Would a better exercise plan work? Right now I take Muggins around the block a few times during the afternoon. Patches and Belle don't go on walks right now because they get tired out easily and it's too hot for them. Should I start taking Muggins out for longer walks in the morning when it's cooler, and then take Patches and Belle out for a shorter walk?

Also, what do I do about Muggins' food obsession? It's really bad. He will do ANYTHING, and I mean anything for a scrap of food. While that is VERY useful as far as training goes, it's not as far as meal times go. When he eats he scarfs it down in just seconds. I'm feeding him more than enough, so it's not that he's starving. I wouldn't doubt it for a second that if he had a giant bowl of food that he would eat every bit of it, killing himself. I know this is a common trait in Ridgebacks. Anyone else know how to deal with this?

Again I'm really sorry this is so long, but I had to explain everything right so you could get the whole picture. Thank you so very much for reading and giving advice.
 

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First, I know you don't have control over the dogs being inside vs outside, but if Muggins is a Ridgeback, he is bred to be inside and watching over his family. So you have an uphill battle to begin with just to get him okay with being outside without his person and you will probably never get him to be HAPPY being outside without you. It isn't a good situation for his mental state.

Second, Muggins is a hound, he WILL eat until he is sick. You want to be able to keep him at a fit weight as being overweight is very bad for a dog's health, esp. the joints on a larger dog. He cannot be free fed.

At 6 months, he is too young for jogging on leash but LONG walks and yard playtime (fetch etc) are needed. You have a high energy breed that needs structure, training and exercise. A few times around the block won't cut it unless it is either very hot out (and then you should do indoor training sessions in the A/C or by a fan) or your block is a mile long. He needs at least 2, BRISK 30 minute walks daily (early morning and later evening if heat is a problem) and several 5-10 minute training sessions. Bump that to two, 45 minute walks when he's about 9 months old. When he is about 18 months old, you can start jogging with him and he will likely need about 1 hour of running or 2 hours of brisk/hard walking daily (i.e. if you walk for 30 minutes before school or work in the AM, then expect to either RUN 1 hour in the evening or do about 1.5-2 hours of hiking or fast walking; 1 or 2 days a week, maybe only 30 mins of running or 1 hr walking).

While Ridgebacks are generally very even tempered dogs who are calm inside the house, they are also powerful hunting dogs with a protective instinct. POSITIVE training is the way to go. Read up on resource guarding (over food for example), read Ian Dunbar's books on training, read the stickies here on training things like NILIF (Nothing in Life is Free) etc. Do NOT use "alpha" methods or "dominance" based training, especially with an emotionally in-touch dog like most Ridgebacks are.

Feed them separately. Either crated, in kennel runs or each safely tethered at a distance apart (where they cannot reach the other dogs or the other dogs' food bowls)
 

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Why are you getting more dogs when you can't keep them inside and are at the mercy of your father's whims concerning the dogs?

Anyway, Muggins is 6 months old. He's a baby. He can't be expected to have the self control of a fully trained, mature dog. That being said, here's what I would do regarding meal time: leash and restrain all three dogs, especially Muggins. Don't try juggling scoops of food and leashes and dogs. Fill the bowls inside, leave them inside, go outside, leash and restrain the dogs away from one another, then bring out the bowls of food to feed. Continue to work on the dogs being calm before being fed.

Regarding the scratching on the door: stay outside. Clicker train an "off" command. (see kikopup on youtube for how to use a clicker) Every time Muggins scratches at the door, train him "off".
 

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Hi there,

I don't know exactly how to help you but I do have a few points of advice that may work...

1. regular consequent walking... e.g. 2x 45minutes a day
2. play with your dogs and practice the "let go" command more often, and redirect their energy by giving them time to run
3. tire your dogs out before they eat. Take a good long walk, or play with them (ball throwing or something) until they have spent energy.
4. use toys as practice. Perhaps use a tennis racket to practice by using it to block your dog and prevent damage to yourself. Not to be used violently - just to protect yourself. This way you will not teach your dogs that when they bite you retreat.

these are a few pointers but I honestly don't know where to start... biting inhibition is something that needs to be practiced and taught from a very young age, but can be rectified even at an older age. It sounds like they need more structure in their lives. They are out of control, but you need to somehow regain the control. Use the racket... play with them so that they can have a part in the day where they get to play and run. Use playing as a reward to your dogs reating to the "let go" command. Request, action, reward... and most importantly, try to stay calm.

I hope this works! I am sure there are many people that'll have some great pointers for you. So don't give up on your dogs. Every situation is fixable! It just takes effort. Hang in there...
 
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