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Saturday, March 31, 2007

Halting Aggression

Aggression comes in all shapes and manners. This morning, we received our own taste of aggression from within the house.

Dakota has a slight obsessive compulsive problem when it comes to her stuff dog toys. She wants any and every chance to play with them but, if we would let her have them all the time, she would shred them to bits. Such is the life of a Labrador Retriever! So, we put them away and allow her to play fetch with them for a few minutes out of every day.

I released the hounds to the basement recreation room and I didn’t see that my husband had left her stuffed toys at the end of the stairs. No big deal! She just had a chance to play with them earlier then expected.

The playing went on for a while and then it was time to head upstairs. I had noticed that as she had kept the toys away from Cheyenne, she was doing a play growl even when Cheyenne was not near her. There was no need to worry because her wagging tail was telling me it was all in fun. Then it changed! I went to get her to drop the toy, which she normally is a little reluctant to do but does it anyway. However, she would not budge! I was able to get her to sit, and then put my hand on the toy in her mouth (which usually gets her to release it immediately), and she growled at me! Again, it was a play growl because her tail was wagging but it was enough to raise a red flag to me. I am alpha in this house and she listens to me no matter what. This time, she was not listening and this was not good!

We went back into the days of puppy training; I pushed her upper lip into her teeth to get her mouth to open and release the toy. I was treated to another growl! No lip curling, no mean aggression but another growl nonetheless! Nothing I did was able to pry that blasted stuffed hedgehog from her mouth!

So, Cheyenne and I went upstairs and I started to train Cheyenne with some yummy treats right in front of Dakota (while she was still locked behind the stairway gate). After a while, Dakota started to release the toy and look at me; just to pick it up again. A couple of times, I put the treat in front of her face to release the toy and it was the 3rd time that she did finally release it!

That was it! She broke one of the major commandments in our house; thou shall never show any form of aggression to the humans in the house. Sure, she had a slight obsessive behavior with the stuffed toys before but she won’t have that problem again. You see, I took all the stuffed toys (which were falling apart anyway) and threw them into the garbage outside. Why? It is a simple fact of escalation in dogs and I am nipping any possible escalation in aggression now before it can get worse. My rule is; everything is a privilege to the dogs and if they are disrespectful to that privilege, they get it taken away for either a while or, in this case, for the foreseeable future. Case closed!



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