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Hi. I'm new to this website.

In June, my girlfriend Erica and I adopted Flash, a young adult basset hound. They told us he could get a little food aggressive every now and then. He doesn't get along with other dogs that are bigger than him. With smaller dogs, he is usually okay.

Nothing was known about him when the rescue got him. They found him emaciated wandering around a highway. They estimate he is 1 - 2 years old.

Having owned a basset hound in the past, a very sweet one, I quickly established myself as the alpha. He respects me, submits to me, and constantly follows me wherever I go.

I live with my fiance and her 11 year old son Liam. Ever since we got him, he has been jealous. If Erica and I are sitting next to one another on the couch, he will either try to get between us or get on the other side of her and climb across her lap (and he is huge for a basset hound). I Erica is alone on the couch, he will cuddle up next to her. If Liam is alone, he will cuddle up next to him. However, over the last few nights, his behavior has changed.

A few nights ago, I was on the couch and he was next to me. Erica came over and Flash started growling at her and eventually aggressively barking. This happened again yesterday to her, and again to Liam. This morning, I was at my computer and Liam tried to come into the room. Flash started aggressively growling and barking at him. I grabbed him by the collar and he turned around and started chewing on my hand. Not hard enough to break skin, but it definitely hurt.

As just an FYI, usually, the form of punishment we use is a squirt gun. It will make him bark aggressively, but he eventually runs and hides under my desk (his "safety spot").

I'm not really sure what to do at this point. I love this dog, as do Erica and Liam, and I REALLY don't want to get rid of him.

I would be grateful for any suggestions.

Jim
 

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I think Flash is trying to establish himself higher on the totem pole than your fiance. It is important for one of you to be the alpha but everyone needs to be higher than the dog and it seems to me that right now Flash thinks he is 2nd to you in the pack order.

As far as what to do for correction I am not sure, but it seems to me that is the root of the problem.
 

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I think Flash is trying to establish himself higher on the totem pole than your fiance. It is important for one of you to be the alpha but everyone needs to be higher than the dog and it seems to me that right now Flash thinks he is 2nd to you in the pack order
pack hierarchy as it relates to dogs is utter nonsense. The do not view themselves as humn nor humans as dogs all which is required for the to form a "pack" with us. Thirdly study of dog show they do not form packs in the first place they only form looses association in which there is no clearly defined hierarchy.

see Dominance in domestic dogs useful construct or bad habit[url]
Ever since we got him, he has been jealous
It is dangerious to yourself and the dog to assign human emotions as to the cause of there behavior because it clouds critical thinking required to correct the behavior and paints the problem behavior as something that you have no control over.


Lets look at the facts. We have a known resource guarder with food, (2) Resources guarder are known to have a tendency to touch sensitivity and (3) you are provider of most of the resources available to the dog. It is not uncommon for such dogs to guard the provider of resources as well as the resources themselves. The behaviors of the dog are simply an extension of the previously known resource guarding. the best reference for Deeling with resource guarding is [url=http://www.dogwise.com/ItemDetails.cfm?ID=dtb740]MINE! - A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO RESOURCE GUARDING IN DOGS is a good place to start.

One popular suggestion for those that believe dogs can and do form packs with humans is a NILIF program on the idea that it a dominance/rank reduction exercise. In case like this NILIF can be helpful not because it reduces the rank or dominance of the dog or elavates that of the humans but quite simply when the wife and her son also become major suppliers of resources as well there is little reson to guard another resource provider from them. This does not change however the dogs willingness to guard you or them from another human like the nieghbor or other friends.

As just an FYI, usually, the form of punishment we use is a squirt gun. It will make him bark aggressively, but he eventually runs and hides under my desk
The use of adversves when dealing with a dog that can be aggressive has the potential of making the situation worse much worse See The Use of Punishment for Behavior
Modification in Animal

Punishment has been shown to increase the likelihood of aggressive behavior in many species. Animals in which the punishment does not immediately suppress the behavior may escalate in their efforts to avoid the punishment to the point where they become aggressive. Those who already show aggressive behavior may exhibit more intense and injurious aggressive behaviors.
I hesitate to call using a a squirt bottle as punishment. By definition in bnehaviorist language punishment must reduce the likelihood of a behavior reoccuring. If the behavior is not declining then the squirt bottle is not punishment but simply an adversive that is misappled. Keep in mind to be effective a punishment must be delivered when the unwanted behavior is occuring. So for instance in the case of guarding you while on the coach. If you have to get up to get the bottle the oppurtunity to punish is actually lost. Secondly and most importantly the dog Must associate the adverisve with it behavior and not the one delivering or the adversive it self. I alway have a laugh when people say how effective the spray bottle is with this "all i havew to do is show him the bottle and he behaves" Let us just say a well behave dog shoukld not need to see the bottle first. for more detailes on the mispersceptions of punishment
Jack Palance vs. Fred Astaire

and Punishment: How not to do it.
Punishment, therefore, decreases the likelihood that something will happen. It is not so much a description of how you imagine the behavior will change, but an assessment of how it actually changed. To say, "I punished the dog for soiling the carpet" is inaccurate if the behavior has not decreased in its rate of occurrence. This practice of inflicting discomfort after the fact is more accurately described as retaliation , retribution or just plain nastiness. i.e. you may have inflicted pain or terror but the animal did not connect it to the behavior! So, by definition, when used correctly, punishment always decreases response. The problem is that punishment is rarely the best solution to a problem, and is almost never practiced correctly.

What is missing from the equation you present is teaching the dog the behavior that you do want. This is another area in which a NILIF program can help. By institutionalizing reward polite and correct behavior. To often People simply ignore the good behavior in their dogs while inadvertently rewarding the dog for the obnoxious behavior (like the dog walking over them to get where it wants) hence in the end they get more obnoxious behavior and less polite behavior.
 

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Especially with a child involved, I would consider bringing in a behaviorist to evaluate the situation and work with your family.
 
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