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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone,
I adopted my basset, Gracie a 2 year old female just over a year ago. She just turned three 2 days ago.
She just started being aggressive and attacking my male, 6 year old Shetland Shepdog. He is a very passive male. And is afraid of her.
I live in the midwest, so we don't get outside as much in the winter, and this winter has been very snowy and to much ice for walks. So short times out in the backyard is about all I will allow them to do. We do play catch a couple times a day and we have a lot of cuddle time. Gracie demand this. Jake does not play catch. So Gracie get a lot of attention.
She has lashed out at him in the past, maybe because he got to close to her food bowl. But recently, she does this more and more, she won't even let him come into the living room. She starts that Basset high pitched screech and then she swoops into bite him and is very vocal at the same time. And will not stop until I crab her.
I am really stumped as to why she is doing this. I try to show her he is equal. Cookies, etc are giving all at the same time. If I pet her, I pet him. Even though, she gets way more attention. It worries me because if I scold her she will yelp at me. And has wrinkled her nose on occassion. She is really a sweet girl and I am not sure what she went through before I rescued her. I have a lot of patience, but I have never owned a basset before. And I am not sure how to handle this situation. I do not like to use any force, because really that does no good, and just makes me feel quilty.
If you have any insight on how to handle this. I would very much appreciate some insight to this stubborn and headstrong cutie.

12,989 Posts
Actual what if any damage has she cause to the other dog. The lack of injury which I qguess is the case is clear signal of lack of intent. So rather than the dog actual being "aggressive" it is being manipulative in a way that ait knows works. In a word she is being a "Bitch" in every sense of the word. In bassets females typical rule the roost and demand that males yield to their arbitary whims and in general they do. So if the male as appears in this case "He is a very passive male. " It appears that he is not all that upset about the state of affairs rather it is you and your sensibilities about equality that are offended.

First of it is a human concept that all should be treated equal, dogs do not have the same sense nor are they offended when one gets preferential treatment over another. This is often the prescibed cure for dealing with sibbling Rialvery which is to support the alpha dog and dominish the others. I am not advocate that this is the approach totake just to point out that part of the "problem" is not how the dogs are interacting but rather your perception at how the should interact and "share" is not based in doggie social structure.

I strongly recommend the article linked to below which is an illustration of how Dogs use manipulation to gain what they want, and it is a normal and required part of social interaction of any group of animals. However in order to read the article you need to become a "member" of the site. This cost nothing nor will you be recieving unsolicited emails etc. The membership is done to protect the copy right of the sites owner.

Examines manipulation as part of social life, and the dog's need for clear boundaries & leadership

I try to show her he is equal. Cookies, etc are giving all at the same time. If I pet her, I pet him
The whole notion of fair is a human construct that does not play out in doogie social settings. Dogs don't care about equality or fairness they is ample evidence that dogs look out for number 1 that is their motivation in life. Often times what we humans view as a dog showing empathy or defering to another is simply but a concisious decision on the part of the dog that conflict reduction is more it itself interest than the reward of not doing so. This idea becomes important later on,

If you want to change a dogs behavior in general you get what is rewarded and loose what is not. Keep in mind a lot of reward are had not coming for you. I dog that barks at the postman and charges the fence is rewarded each and everytime when the postman walks away. These situtation I refer to as self rewarding. The behavior is natural rewarded by the consequence of the behavior. These are difficult to change unless active control of the situations and minimize the incident of self-reward. In your case every time the basset charges. growl or otherwise intimidates the Sheltie and he gives in she is rewarded for the behavior the more she will do it. This is why the behavior gets worse over time never better.

Not see what is actual going on one never knows if the ussumptions made are even close to being correct. That is something you are going to have to decide or better yet get the help of a behavior to help in making an assesment. That said if you wish to change the bassets behavior this is what need to occur

1. the interactions between the basset and the shetie that you can not control need to be minimized. Shuch as not leaving both to interact on their own when your not home. Doing so creates to much self reward for the unwanted behavior to ever overcome it At best all you will ever be able to achieve unless you control the self rewarding nature is a basset that is not "bitchy' in your presence.

2. Reward the behavior you want. That is you need to teach the basset defference. This is not equality. But rather rewarding the dog that is the least push, and demanding which is likely the opposite as is happining now by your own addmission, she demands the most attention and gets it.

3. you need to make the presence of the sheltie an indication that good things are to come rather than as an intrusion into her "mommy time" That is do not reward, play, etc the basset unless the sheltie is around. No one on one time unless the sheltie is in the room.

4. In two we stop rewarding the dog when it demands atttention but in reality its need for attention stays the same. The only way this has a chance of being successful is being proactive in giving the dog attention before it askes for it. You know the situations when the dog normal demand atttention be proactive and give the dog attention in the parameter outline above before it is demanded of you.

5. EXERCISE as has been pointed out by many that lack of physical and mental stimulation is often at the root of many behavioral problems. You have a dog that already fetches have you consider tug or other more active games of play?. If you are concerned that Tugging increases aggressive behavior studies have shown that is not the case see Tug of War
Dog owners have been admonished for decades to never play tug of war with their dogs because of the risk of it increasing aggression and/or dominance in the dog. Even many dog resource people such as breeders, trainers and veterinarians caution against this game. This is partly a failure to discriminate between agonistic behavior (conflict resolution & defensive aggression) and predatory behavior. Also, many people have issues about witnessing intensity. Intensity is not aggression, however.
Played with rules, tug-of-war is a tremendous predatory energy burner and good exercise for both dog and owner. It serves as a barometer of the kind of control you have over the dog, most importantly over his jaws. The game doesn't make the dog a predator: he already is one. The game is an outlet. It’s intense, increases dog focus and confidence and plugs into something very deep inside them. The big payoff is in lowered incidence of behavior problems due to understimulation and a potent motivator for snappy obedience. There is a maxim in training: control the games, control the dog. It's also extremely efficient in terms of space and time requirements.
even if the ppor behavior is not the result of a lack of exercise increaseing exercise general minimizes it because a tired dog is less like to expend more energy try to defend an object or teritory.


and a fair review
The guiding premise of the booklet is the value of teaching "polite, patient, and respectful" behaviors and making a conscious effort to reinforce these in situations where dogs might otherwise be pushy and demanding. The authors point out that, left unguided, many dogs will get pushier as they grasp for their own rewards, resulting in a mob of rude, potentially contentious dogs.
To their credit, London & McConnell don't focus on identifying and favoring the most dominant dog, nor on allowing dogs to work out their own conflicts. Rather, they stress that, "The best way to prevent status-related aggression... is to be a calm and confident leader, projecting a sense of benevolent power."
For those that learn better by observing a DVD is also available but not having seen it I can't comment nor reccomend.

maybe because he got to close to her food bowl ...she won't even let him come into the living room
How is she with toy etc. There may be another aspect to the situation, specifical Resourse Guarding. Keep in mind not all resources are physical things like food, but attention, space etc can be resourses that a dog deems valuable enough to need guarding. Also keep in mind Resource guarding is a natural behavior in dogs. That does not mean it is appropriate.


fair review

So s review of what has been discuses. Give the light of new insight into doggie behavior you need to determine is whether the basset is "aggressive" and likely to cause harm if intervention does not occur or simpply manipulative. If manipulative where the behavior rises to the level of obnoxiousness to require intervention or whether if the dogs are comfortable with the situation you should be as well.

If you decide to intervene gather the resources nesessary to have a sucessful out come. Be prepaired to take all the steps necessary even though many might not be convienient or easy. Seriously consider geting the help of an outside expert than can actual observe the dogs and you interacting.

12,989 Posts
I do not like to use any force, because really that does no good, and just makes me feel quilty.

Guidelines on the Use of Punishment for Dealing with Behavior Problems in Animals[/quote]
by American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior
Bold added by me for emphysis

If the handler/owner is not comfortable with a training technique it is never effective For a different perspective to using adversives/punishment if you deem necessary in a given situation so rather than "punishment" it is a reward for the behavior, just a reward that the dog does not want.

[url=]"You Won the Prize!"
Try the "you won a prize" method. It's basically a time-out, but given so cheerfully that the dog doesn't seem to realize it's in trouble. I used this quite successfully with my greyhound girl Allegra, who was seriously trying to break through an 8-foot-wide picture window several times a day to get to passing squirrels, dogs, kids on skates, cats, crows, mailmen, trash collectors, etc. I got this idea from someone whose dog would not stay off the kitchen table. It requires that you become a world-class actor--the whole point is to never show that you are angry, just give the dog a very short time out **every** time the forbidden transgression occurs.
Also onthing that i should of posted in before. The abscentsof a reward for a behavior over time leads to the extinct of that behavior. Hence alot of the steps in the behavior mod process I outlined lead to extinction of the behavior. However it is not that simple. Most of the time behaviors do not simply go away quitely into the night. Quite the oposite they are only exstinqauished by kicking and screeming becoming exponetially worse before they stop. The reason for this is a phenonenom known as a Extinction Burst?
If someone's gained some reward every time for a particular behavior, the
behavior will persist. If suddnely the reward stops coming, it's likely
that the person or animal will not immediately give up the behavior.
Instead, they'll try it again and again, harder, faster, more emphatically.
It's a burst of activity. If the reward still doesn't come, eventually
the behavior will extinguish, or become extinct. So, the burst of behavior
before extinction of the behavior is called an "extinction burst".

My favorite example is the elevator button. Let's say you ride the same
elevator every day. You get in, you push the button for your floor, and
you're rewarded by the doors closing and the elevator taking you to your
destination. One day you get in and push the button, and nothing happens.
Do you immediately say, "Oh, this must not work anymore, I'll just take the
stairs to the 11th floor"? Or do you push the button again? And again?
And harder? And faster? And in special sequences? That's the extinction

So keep in mind the fact a behavior gets worse is often a sign that things are going well not the other way round. Of course in the method outlined above this is minimised by teaching a more appropriate behavior for the dog to use instead and easily transition into. It is just another reason minimizing the chances for the behavior to occur in the first place is so important.

4 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Thank you all for your advise on aggression.
I am not sure how I am rewarding this behavior??
When these aggressive behavior happens, I just grab Gracie to stop her from biting Jake. Then, I check Jake to see if he is okay, and tell Gracie to go lay down. I completely ignore her for some time.
But I will try to only give her the one on one mommie time when Jake is around only to see if this helps.
I have no problem spanking gracie if I need to. But I feel that will her past she may have been abused, and do not want to cause her to be more aggressive towards me.
I think I will try the "Alegra" time out acting method, maybe Gracie will respond to this. She has a tendency to ignore everything when she has a specific goal in mind. Typical basset, I am sure.

12,989 Posts
I am not sure how I am rewarding this behavior??
I did not say you were rewarding the behavior only that the behavior is being rewarded. Every time she growls at runs at, latches on to the sheltie and he backs off she is rewarded.

I have no problem spanking gracie if I need to
In order for punishment to work the dog must associate the punishment with it behavior. So inorder for spanking to be effect the dog must associate it behavior as percipitating the spanking. How do you do this? I can safely say I have never see a dog that was spank, swatted with a newspaper etc associate the "beating" with its pehavior, but rather it associates the "beating" with an irrational owner which only incease it fear of the owner which in turn makes more likely it feel the need to use force to defend itself.

think I will try the "Alegra" time out acting method, maybe Gracie will respond to this.
One must recongnize the limit of a single prong approach, Even if successfull at eliminating this single bad behavior of charging and latching on to the leg of the sheltie What is to stop her for adopting a different more aggressive behavior? Given that she knows aggression work when it stops working what is more likely She stops being aggressive altogether or she try being even more aggressive?

Nothing has been done to eliminate and minimize the cause of the behavior in the first place nor has it been taught a more appropriate behavior. So you end up with one inappropriate obnoxious behavior simply being replaced by a more obnoxious behavior.

Unless a comprehensive program to teach the dog to deal with fustration, impulse control, and change its attitude about the presence of other dogs you are doomed to failure. All these require you to be pro-active and reward appropriate behavior as well. I strongly suggest reading the refference included in my first post. especial the books which provide much more detail and substance that is posible here. Quite simply so far your focus is in how to stop the behavior. Quite simply that does not work. What you need to focus on is the behavior that you actual want. Such as sit quitely and remain lying down when Jake walks into the living room.

I just grab Gracie to stop her from biting Jake. Then, I check Jake to see if he is okay, and tell Gracie to go lay down. I completely ignore her for some time.
If the intent of Gracie was to cause injury to Jake then that is exactly what would be happening. It is niave to believe your intervention is preventing injury. The second part of this can be more sinsister. In any dog v dog conflict it takes two to tango. As much as you want to believe that Jake is an inocent bystander that is not the case. He has the abbility to avoid the conflict as well. At the first threat level by gracie he could back away but does not. The problem is when you try and interpret who is the cause of a conflict it is first likely wrong and second likely to make matters worse. Trying to only presecute the "instigator" lead to unintended consequences that increases the conflict not reduce it What happen is the other dogs learns how to goat the other in to actions that it get punished for while it gets to enjoy extra attention. In any dog v dog conflict both dogs need to be treated as equal conspiritors. Also keep in mind seperating the dog is most often a reward as that is what the conflict was about in the first place increase distance between them. So it is far better for a punishment like both dogs in a down in close proximity to each other than seperating each for individual time outs.

But I feel that will her past she may have been abused
In fact it is not very likely she was abused in the traditional sense. Most behavioral issue are traced to two cause 1 is genetic which you can do very little about and the other early socialization and hibituation. which again at this late date you have little control. You can work with her to over come these problems but it is likely some remnant remains not matter how thorough a behavior mod program you employ will still linger and require constent and consitent monitoring and intervention

an additional resource for you The Aggressive Behaviors in Dogs yahoo group
The Agbeh group an educational forum offering discussions of how to modify the behavior of dogs that exhibit aggressive behaviors toward dogs and/or toward people. Aggressive behaviors oftentimes arise from dogs' fears or anxieties. Harsh training and physical punishments are not advised for they may make the problems worse.

The good news for all is that dogs' behaviors may be modified. We teach people how to reduce tensions so as not to exacerbate the problems. Trainers and dog-behavior consultants give suggestions for safe home management and for using positive-reinforcement clicker teaching methods, including targeting, for teaching new skills. Detailed information is also provided about desensitizing and counter conditioning (D/CC) a dog to various stimuli to change the dog's emotional responses. Only "dog-friendly" recommendations are permitted. No physical punishment-based methods are advocated. No choke chain corrections, no prong collars, no electronic shock collars!

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