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Dixie's Mom
592 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
(I'm on a mobile right now so I'm copying and pasting my posts from another forum here. Please, I need advice!)

May 31st:
I'm so scared of losing Dixie right now. )': I've mentioned this before but Dixie just doesn't get along with our other smaller dogs. It's not just the resource guarding, I'd don't think, because she's growled at them numerous times just when they walk by her in the house or outside. It's not all the time but 90% of the time she growls at them. We always try to keep them seperate when there might be something she'll not want them having.
To get to the point, this morning Sherlock somehow snuck into mine and my sister's room where Dixie was with me. She was under the bed chewing on her antler and Sherlock was going to see my sister. Dixie saw him and came barreling out from the bed and launched herself at him. No dog was hurt (though Sherlock was badly shaken up and wet all over the place) and we got Dixie off of him.
My dad was pretty mad and said to get rid of Dixie. )': I just don't know what to do! I've never dealt with this kind of thing before and I'm just at my wits end. The only answers I get from some fellow Golden owners are find a behavior consultant, but I know what my dad already thinks of them.
The last time she was in PetSmart, she was an angel. (We did try to steer clear of most of the dogs) But she greeted a Jack Russell pup fine. Our neighbor sometimes dogsits a female smooth collie mix and after a bit if barking from Dixie, she sniffed noses through the fence and was okay. She's never really met any large dogs except the smooth collie and a Rottweiler she greeted nicely at a local pet store months ago.
By the way, our other dogs are all males. I don't know if the Jack Russell pup was male or female.
Edit: She does get visibly distressed first sometimes and if they come closer (even if it's not towards her) she'll start growling. She doesn't always give a VERY noticeable warning like growling though, which is what happened this morning. It happened really fast. It's mostly my fault for not watching her.
With STRANGE dogs, sometimes she seems uncomfortable so I lead her away, but usually she seems happy.
What am I supposed to do when she growls? I know you're not supposed to 'punish' a dog for giving a warning , so I usually just send the other dogs away.
I've tried treating her high value treats and praising her when another dog is in the room, but she still appears highly stressed every time. Her ears lay back and her lips get very tight and tense; not always lifting, but tight. And she's constantly nervously looking at the other dog while I'm treating her. I know it's not something that will happen overnight; I've been working with her on this for a year and a half now.
I've found a highly recommended behaviorist (I really like her thinking and methods), but even though I'd be paying for everything, my parents think it's a "waste of money". I'm not making excuses, believe me. That's what they think of it. I'd do ANYTHING in the world to help Dixie.
They're fine on walks, but just occasionally okay in the yard. In the yard, it's Sherlock who plays too rough and he just generally gets on Dixiesp's nerves. He chases her and tries to take her ball. (Her ball is THE number 1 top reward EVER for her). She's went after him and Murdoch a couple of times in the yard when they get too close to the ball or keep sniffing her. She HATES her rear being sniffed.
Yes, when I'm working on that situation, I work with two dogs at a time.
Sherlock x Dixie
Murdoch x Dixie
Stitch x Dixie

(Thought I'd go ahead and list her reactions to each dog):
Stitch is never any trouble, because he respects her space (he's a 10 yr old Pekingese). The only time Dix scuffled with him, was when he didn't hear her growl. (His hearing isn't as good as it was.)
Murdoch's nose just gets him too much trouble. He's always wanting to sniff her and when she warns him, he lays down and whines or wags his tail which makes her heighten her warning. When playing, he knows now to leave her be.
Sherlock usually heeds warnings inside, but sometimes ignores her or wags his tail; wagging type: extremely fast. His tail curls over his back so it's hard for me to tell much about his "tail language" like I can with Dixie and Murdoch. Outside, he's an EXTREMELY excitable little dog. He loves to chase and Dixie doesn't like being chased. He backed her into corner once trying to get the ball from her and that didn't go over big.
So the only dog Dixie gets outside time with is Stitch. I only have Sherlock or Murdoch outside with her if I'm working with them.
How do I teach Sherlock to not play so rough, and how can I teach Murdoch to respect her space?
Murdoch learned his lesson outside the first time she went after him in the backyard but he still bugs her in the house even though she's warned him and had a couple of scuffles when he ignored her.
Sherlock is just a brat when it comes to dog rules and respect. He barks and snaps at strange dogs for the majority, and really just gets too rough with ALL of our dogs when he's out in the yard. The only one he doesn't bother is Stitch. They all respect Stitch from what I've seen.

June 1st:
Some progress with Dixie and Sherlock today! My dad helped me out while I was working with Sherlock and Dixie today. I had my dad hold Sherlock on a leash just outside of Dixie's "threshold distance" while I held Dixie on a leash. I fed Dixie treats as fast as I could everytime Sherlock was in her sight and my dad did the same with Sherlock. When we moved them out of each other's sight, the treats stopped coming. Just today, we were able to get them 4 ft apart with no negative reactions from Dixie. She even wandered over to him, looking for his treats when we were finishing up. I don't know how long it will last but it was encouraging to see.

She seems to see mine and my sister's room (we share one and that's where Dixie usually is with me) as her den or special place. She's definitely a lot more touchy about one of the dogs passing the bedroom or especially if one sneaks in.

Btw, thanks for the articles! I read them all last night and did a bit more searching. Found some interesting stuff on WholeDogJournal. Particularly an article by Pat Miller.

June 3rd:
Again, just like last time, Dixie was a complete angel in PetSmart today; greeting everyone and her tail waving the whole time. Loose lips, relaxed face, no sign of tension; except once she got irritated at a chihuahua barking at her and she growled and walked on.
BUT as soon as we get out to the car, she's sitting on my lap, Sherlock is on his way to the front seat (we have a ford windstar), and with no warning that I could see this time, she grabbed Sherlock again.
Then my dad goes on another speech of what a terrible dog she is, get rid of her, and it's just a matter of time before she bites someone.
If she really wanted to hurt Sherlock, he'd be HURT! And just because she doesnt like dogs doesnt mean she gonna go around and start attacking PEOPLE!!!
The fights may look and sound bad but she only puts her mouth ON him or grabs fur. No going for the legs, belly, or throat. Then my dad punishes Dixie the "old fashioned" way and Sherlock gets cuddled. HELP!

10,950 Posts
Not sure what you mean by your dad punishes her the old-fashioned way, but if he's hitting her, it's exactly wrong. Goldens just don't do well with punishment at all. IMO you need a personal trainer/behaviorist to visit your home, check out the dogs, and explain the dynamics to you and your whole family. The expert should put together a training plan that you would implement and everyone in family should support.

I know this is tough, but I bet you can get Dixie through this with no bloodshed, but you really need a good assessment. There are some professional trainers on here and I hope they'll chime in, but without visiting the home, it's hard to be definitive.

Good luck! Come back and tell us what transpires.

3,940 Posts
It sounds like Sherlock is the instigator (and he sounds like a bit of a bully) and Dixie is getting blamed. She is living in a situation where she constantly barraged by inappropriate behavior (they are not heeding the signals) from the other dogs, Sherlock in particular, and she is reacting to it out of fear/frustration. It would be like you living with a bratty brother who is always picking on you, getting in your face, stealing your stuff and getting you into trouble when you respond to him. Over time you will cringe at the sight of him and warn him to stay away and will want to lock yourself in your room to stay safe from him.
Start by giving Dixie as much time away from the other dogs as possible, take her for walks, play with her in the back yard - no other dogs, keep them separated as much as possible when in the house. She needs time to de-stress and relax and so do you.
In the house double check for items she might guard, supervise constantly when they are together, redirect Sherlock away if he is getting in her face. When playing or working with them in the yard,(ensure that you have someone to help you manage the dogs) remove the toys, it sounds like Dixie is spending most of her time trying to keep her ball and Sherlock is spending his time trying to get it. If Sherlock plays too rough, consider whether he really needs to play with Dixie at all. He has a different play style and Dixie shouldn't have to put up with it.
Continue working with Sherlock and Dixie as you did on June 1, with your dad, it takes a lot of repetitions and reinforcing to change how a dog feels about another dog. Weeks, perhaps months. Practice in the house as well. Maybe your sister can walk Sherlock on leash past the bedroom door, you reward Dixie as he goes by, and she can reward Sherlock.
The efforts you have made with feeding treats while another dog is in the room are a step in the right direction BUT if she is subsequently exposed to the 'threats' (in her mind) of the other dog, any progress you have made are likely to be set back by the encounters. As in my example: one good day with your bratty brother, is not going to change how your feel about him long term, it will take many good days for you to believe that something 'good' is going to happen when you see him.
If you have access to training classes,(basic obedience) where Dixie can be on leash in a safe environment, that would be a good start in building Dixie's confidence around other dogs. If you can convince your parents to allow at the very least an assessment in your home by a certified behaviorist, so that everyone can understand what is going on, that would be a real bonus.
There is a lot going on, it is not only confusing, frustrating, and frightening for you, it is for Dixie as well. I hope the you can get your family 'on board' and work towards preventing accidents from happening, rather than responding once they do. Someone should work with Sherlock, while you work with Dixie.
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