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    I have a 3 year old male Bassett who came to me when he was 2. For his first year, he was with a family who didn’t pay much attention to him and gave him to the Basset rescue folks in Seattle. For his second year, he was with a family who left him alone a lot. He came to me at 2 and since I was in the midst of a bitter divorce, was my constant companion and comfort.

    He has been my only dog and has been sweet and gentle to all children and dogs he has met (I have a 4-year old). In fact, when Andy met a new dog, he would lay down and expose his underside in submission and then play.

    I recently started a new relationship with a woman who has 2 cockers. When the dogs were introduced at her place about a month ago, all was well. The younger cocker and my Bassett played and roughhoused well and seemed like best friends. But starting last week, there have been spats where my Bassett has agressively attacked his former friend. They have been “open mouth rushes” without biting, but it scares the crap out of the cocker. At first, it was over chew bones, but the last two times it seemed over nothing.

    Obviously, this has to stop or it stands the chance of jeopardizing the relationship as well as traumatizing all involved. There are clearly jealosy factors going on, but although I have had rescued animals all my life, I am at a loss about how to proceed.

    Thanks for any help you can give.

    Seattle, WA


    Hi Jackie:
    I am a professional dog trainer near Houston, Texas, and I would like to offer a bit of insight into your problem.
    First, be aware that during your divorce, she was the ONLY relationship you had and now suddenly you force a lot of other relationships upon her. These other relationships take away your time from her. I read that she accepted the younger cocker as a play mate at first which is not unusual – sorta like a trip to the dog park and playing with other dogs. However, those dogs don’t go back home with you. I would suggest that you make sure you are spending quality time with her AWAY from the other dogs. Enroll in an obedience class would be an excellent solution. The class would offer several resolutions: quality time with her on a one-on-one situation not only in class but also in training time at home; embedding some obedience behaviors where you become a leader of your relationship with her; getting control over her behaviors so that you can quickly stop unwanted encounters with the Cocker at home. Obedience puts you as a leader — right now the Bassett is trying to be the leader and she is lashing out in doing so — not the right type of leadership.

    Next step: PREVENT these attacks from happening until you can get better control over your dog. If the attacks keep happening without recourse, then it becomes the accepted way of pack behavior. Prevention may be keeping the bones away from the pack as a whole — let your dogs have their bones in their crates. Perhaps keeping the instigators on leash while they are together thereby giving them the leadership that they need in order to get along.

    Next step: Make sure you are reading the individual dogs and make a correct decision about who is causing the problem. Cockers are WELL known for lashing out and biting. Give the whole situation a “step back and evaluate” approach to see who is instigating the events. The cocker may need behavior modification also. Perhaps enrolling both dogs in an obedience class would be a good thing for everyone – humans and dogs. It is the BEST way of bonding with your dog. Dogs are pack animals and seek leadership. If you don’t become the leader, one of the dogs will fill that position in the household (which is what I am reading is happening.)

    Next question to you would be to think about vaccinations as being part (if not all) of the problem. I have seen many instances in my training program where dogs suddenly become snappers and biters (suddenly attack other dogs with no provocation) after the vaccinations. These were instances where I had done earlier training on the dogs as young pups — then they come back later with aggression problems after vaccinations. You might engage Dr. Jeff with this question and if there is a possibility of vaccinosis, homeopathic care is the only solution. No amount of behavior modification can “cure” this, IMO, without homeopathic care. Obedience training is important, for sure, but it cannot set the lifeforce upright again after damage from rabies/distemper vaccines.

    I hope I have brought some thought processes into your situation so that you can bring about a happy resolution of your problems.

    Laura Gibson
    Furrst Place K-9 Obedience Training

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