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Dog Possession Aggression

by Alice
(Hanceville, AL USA)

My dog Buster has started to guard my yellow lab from my other dogs. This seemed to start about the same time we rescued a Yorkie -- 6 months ago.

Buster, a 7 year old dachshund mix, is very submissive and is the lowest on the scale of the four dogs. He has started acting crazy when the other two dogs get near the yellow lab, baring his teeth, barking and growling.

The new Yorkie has ousted Buster from our bed where he had slept until the Yorkie arrived. Buster now sleeps on the floor with the lab.

He is still as submissive as ever about eating and getting treats and affection, but is crazy jealous and aggressive about the other two dogs getting close to the lab.

Any help would be much appreciated!

Comments for Dog Possession Aggression

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Sep 18, 2010
My Online Vet Response for Dog Possession Aggression
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Hi Alice,
Upsetting the hierarchy in a dog pack can bring out many unusual behaviors. You have observed that Buster is "very submissive and is the lowest on the scale of the four dogs". Yet he was sleeping with you in bed... this raises his status in the eyes of the other dogs to TOP dog.

Apparently he was very secure with this 'station' in life, and there was no aggression, and everyone was getting along together very well.

And now that you have adopted a new dog (the Yorkie) and he is allowed to sleep in bed with you, Buster is now on the floor with the Yellow Lab. His status is downgraded, and his behavior is reflecting his insecurity.

I do not know if he is feeling 'jealous' or has a need to 'protect' the Yellow Lab, or perhaps feels that now YOU have another dog that you are giving preferential treatment to, he really does not know where he stands and is just trying to hold his ground and not get 'picked on' by the other dogs.

Perhaps it is the same with having children. It is not good to show favorites, and prefer one over the other. You must either allow Buster to sleep in bed with you, and the Yorkie must go in a crate or in someone else's bed, or make EVERYONE sleep on the floor.

This reestablishes that you are the TOP dog, and all of the rest of the 'pack' is submissive to you, and must behave accordingly. You can reinforce Buster's status by feeding him first, giving him a treat first, allowing him to go outside first, etc. And if you allow anyone up on the sofa with you or in bed with you, then it should be Buster.

In the meantime, while you are sorting this out, you can give Buster some Bach flower essences, to help with anxiety, such as Rescue Remedy combined with Walnut (for adjusting to change), Honeysuckle, (for homesickness, and wanting things to be back the way they used to be) and Holly (for jealousy). These are available at Health Food stores, and 2 drops of each can be added to the drinking water every day for the next 3 weeks.(It will not hurt if the other dogs also get some too!)

Or add 2 drops of each to a 2 oz dropper bottle and fill with Spring Water, and give it to Buster one time daily for three weeks.

(Continued in Part 2 below)

Sep 18, 2010
Part 2 - My Online Vet Response to Dog Possession Aggression
by: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Of course, if we could talk to Buster, we could figure out exactly what he is thinking. In the meantime, try some of these suggestions. You should also consult with Dr. Ian Dunbar, an animal behaviorist in Berkeley, California. Click here to go to his website, then go to Behavior Problems.

This is not a specific holistic problem, but to find a holistic veterinarian in your area click here:
find a holistic veterinarian in your area

Please keep us posted by coming back to this page and clicking the 'click here to add your own comments' link below.

Take care,
Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

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DISCLAIMER: The above should never replace the advice of your local veterinarian, as they have the ability to evaluate your dog in person.

- Dog Anxiety,
- Ask a Vet Online Library - Dog Behavioral Issues Section

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