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Hi. I"m new to the forum, and I have three dogs. I was an ignorant owner when we first bought them, but have since learned A LOT. But because I didn't know much when we just bought these "cute" dogs, we didn't chose by temperament and breed, and now we are dealing with a mixed-bag pack.

My female lab/cocker is independent and sweet and submissive to me and gets along with both of her brothers. She's kind of alpha to the boys, but she doesn't fight with them.

I have a cocker spaniel and another mixed cocker. Both are males. The cocker spaniel used to pick a lot of fights with his brother and even drew blood a few times. In desperation, I read up on dog packs as well as talked to our vet and a trainer and was told that Rufus (the cocker) wants to be dominant over Prince (the mix) and that when Prince challenges him, Rufus puts him in his place.

Since then, hub and I have been treating Rufus like the alpha--feeding him first, walking him first, letting him go out first, etc. There have been no fights! It's like a miracle and it's going on a year. However, I feel like I can never spend that much time with Prince who is sort of MY dog--I love them all, but I love him best. If I try to pet him, I have two dog's noses in my face licking me and pushing Prince to the back. I would love to lavish more attention on Prince, but I'm afraid that would make Rufus start to think Prince is a threat to him again. It's very frustrating. Added to that, Prince gladly takes the submissive role and backs off. I have my office in the same room the dogs are in. The female and Rufus lay by my feet. Prince stays far away. During the rare times that the other dogs are out, Prince will come to me for attention and lay at my feet. I feel really badly that Prince doesn't get to be near me as much as the other dogs. Am I doing something wrong? Any suggestions? I don't want Rufus to pick on Prince again. Truly, I love Rufus and Lucky (the female) too, but I want Prince to be able to be near me as much as the other pups are :D
 

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Instigate a game of tug of war with the puppy. Begin gently at first and allow him to instigate any rough play. Shake the towel in front of him and tell him, "get it". When the puppy takes the towel into his mouth and pulls, release the towel and LET him win. Then praise him generously, "good boy!".
 

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NONE of your dogs should be alpha. If you want to use that sort of terminology, the alpha dog is YOU.

I would strongly recommend finding a good positive behaviorist or trainer in your area who can work with you and all three dogs, but particularly Rufus. Dogs with strong personalities need MORE training and should be MORE responsive, not less to commands.

Check out the NILIF sticky on the training board, in particular, but you might also really like Patricia McConnell's book and DVD called "Feeling Outnumbered".

In my household, pushy dogs get to do downstays while I'm doing things. :p Polite dogs get to be underfoot.
 

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I see you are suggesting Cesar Millan's techniques here....Cesar Millan, the “Dog Whisperer,” has enjoyed tremendous commercial success and a rabid following. Millan urges dog owners to become the “alpha”—this is the essence of dog domestication, in his view, the replacement of a canine alpha with a human being, leaving the rest of the social structure in place (European empires did similar things by turning various princes and potentates into their own government officials). Essentially, National Geographic and Cesar Millan have cleverly repackaged and promoted a simplistic view of the dog’s social structure and constructed around it a one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter approach to dog training. While Mr. Millan rejects hitting and yelling at dogs during training, his confrontational methods include physical and psychological intimidation, like finger jabs, choke collars, extended sessions on a treadmill and what is called flooding, or overwhelming the animal with the thing it fears. Of course, as the show clearly documents, these techniques do work—they create the desired behavior. On his TV show, the main method Millan uses for aggression is aversives (leash jerks, kicks, snaps of the hand against the neck, and restraint, among others) applied non contingently.
 

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Hardly.

I'm suggesting that the OP NOT reinforce bad behavior on the part of Rufus. Dealing with an aggressive dog by rewarding aggressive behavior towards other dogs is an exceedingly bad idea, and letting him bully the softer dogs in the household is unfair to them. However, many owners ARE familiar with his terminology (the OP came in familiar with it) and it can be used to facilitate a discussion of status (which DOES exist, to dogs) when helping them resolve their household problems. When faced with a household with multiple dog problems (a dog who resource guards and is percieved as 'alpha', a dog who is exceedingly submissive), the problem needs to be addressed holistically. Simply treating one dog's problems won't resolve the situation.


I see you are suggesting Cesar Millan's techniques here....Cesar Millan, the “Dog Whisperer,” has enjoyed tremendous commercial success and a rabid following. Millan urges dog owners to become the “alpha”—this is the essence of dog domestication, in his view, the replacement of a canine alpha with a human being, leaving the rest of the social structure in place (European empires did similar things by turning various princes and potentates into their own government officials). Essentially, National Geographic and Cesar Millan have cleverly repackaged and promoted a simplistic view of the dog’s social structure and constructed around it a one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter approach to dog training. While Mr. Millan rejects hitting and yelling at dogs during training, his confrontational methods include physical and psychological intimidation, like finger jabs, choke collars, extended sessions on a treadmill and what is called flooding, or overwhelming the animal with the thing it fears. Of course, as the show clearly documents, these techniques do work—they create the desired behavior. On his TV show, the main method Millan uses for aggression is aversives (leash jerks, kicks, snaps of the hand against the neck, and restraint, among others) applied non contingently.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Whoaaaaaaaaaaaa. I guess I didn't explain right.
Rufus is submissive to us, the humans. He just picks on his brother if his brother goes out first or infringes on his own feeling that he is his boss. We never allow Rufus to pick on Prince, but dog fights can be hard to break up. Lucky, who is usually indifferent to her brothers, will jump in on Rufus's side if there is a fight. But there HASN'T been a fight in a long time, as long as we treat Rufus like he is more powerful than Prince, NOT MORE POWERFUL THAN US!
The dogs are all six years old. We bought them at around the same time. I am now a stay-at-home mom to my dogs. I have time to train them, but not the money to hire a trainer for all three of them. I wish I did.
They are usually fine together. I just noticed that Prince tends to get shoved in the back and he seems to accept it. He is by far the most submissive. He looks down or to the side and lifts his paw to the other dogs and even to me and hub. I just wish he would stay by me like the other two do. He seems to think he shouldn't.
The funny this is, Rufus and Prince are also best friends! I know it makes no sense, but Rufus will get Prince when I'm going to let them out and he also often snuggles with him for naps. The dogs are attached to each other. Rufus just doesn't like him to get the upper hand.
I wish I could speak Dog Language :cool:
 

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It sounds like you give the other dogs attention when they barge to the head of the line. Why? Attention is given on YOUR terms....not theirs and it needs to be earned (sitting politely for petting for example).
 
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