subject for todayís article is brought to us by Sarah
from Santa Barbara, Calif. Sarah is the proud caretaker
of a 2-year-old female beagle that has had a litter of
puppies, one female of which Sarah decided to keep. The
puppy is now about 8 months old and lately it appears as
if the two dogs do not enjoy each otherís company.
fact, the mother dog will quite viciously attack the
8-month-old and sometimes inflict physical harm. Sarah
is naturally quite upset about this problem as anyone
might expect and would like some help.
the sake of our discussion, and since Sarah neglected to
provide names for her companions, I will refer to the
mother dog as beagle No. 1 and the youngster as beagle
veterinary school at the University of California,
Davis, we took a very fascinating course titled
"Animal Behavior." One of the most interesting
parts of this class dealt with the problems associated
with the introduction of a new companion into a
household with another companion who has already
established residency. This situation and the potential
problems with it are fairly common and living through
this can be tough. I will share with you what I was
taught in school concerning the handling of these types
of situations as well as the experiences I have had with
the use of these techniques in practice.
of all it is important to recognize the motivation for
these actions taken by the elder member of the canine
group. This behavior stems from the instinctive behavior
found in all dogs likely due to their development from
wolves. I realize it may be hard to imagine a Yorkie
terrier being a step away from a wolf but it is true! It
is natural for dogs being a pack animal, just like
wolves, to try to move up the ladder of dominance within
the pack. In a household, the members of the pack
include the two-legged and four-legged members. The dog
learns its place on the ladder from the other members in
the household just like the wolves learn their
respective places within the pack. Problems arise when
there are challenges to these established positions.
Sarahís case, the puppy is trying to move up the
ladder and is challenging the older beagleís
established position. This challenge is often very
subtle and most commonly not perceived by the
is why caretakers will almost always report that the
newer dog will be doing nothing and will suddenly be
attacked by the established canine resident. This is not
the case. What is happening between the two is simply
not observed by the caretakers.
No. 1 knows that No. 2 is trying to supersede her
position as the alpha dog and is demonstrating to No. 2
as well as other members of the pack (the caretakers),
that she (No. 1) is the dominant dog. She does this
instinctively by aggression toward No. 2. The solution I
am about to suggest might seem a bit strange to say the
least, but after years of experience, I can tell you it
can work very well. The one qualifier I must add is that
I am only interpreting a letter and I may not be correct
in my diagnosis of the problem; however if I am, there
is a good chance for success.
key issue here is beagle No. 1ís perceived need to
demonstrate her position over beagle No. 2 to her
caretakers. In order to eliminate this perceived need,
the caretakers must at all times reinforce beagle No. 1ís
position. This means that when they come home they
should always greet beagle No. 1 first and lavish
attention on her always before beagle No. 2.
Incidentally, I should note that beagle No. 2 already
knows its position when the two dogs are alone. There is
likely no fighting when the caretakers are not around.
a fight does break out, discipline must be carried out
on beagle No. 2. And praise dished out to beagle No. 1.
I know this sounds strange especially since No. 1 is the
apparent aggressor but it makes sense when you
understand the motivation. By reinforcing beagle No. 1ís
position in the household to beagle No. 2, the problem
will likely cease.