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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Pet Care Library > Ask An Expert > Answered Questions > I Have A Mix Dog Malamute Shephard And Chow Who Is 15 Yrs O

I have a mix dog (malamute, shephard, and chow) who is 1.5 yrs old. She is a gre...

Teya74

Question: 
I have a mix dog (malamute, shephard, and chow) who is 1.5 yrs old. She is a great dog for the most part. However we have a roommate that lives in the basement of our house. Everytime he or his daughter (when she is visiting) comes upstairs she starts barking like mad we have tried to tell her to be quite and give her treats when she is, we have tried to make a loud noise like clapping and such and nothing. So this is one part I need some new ideas for. The next thing I need help with and this is a major one. My dog was just fixed aprox 4 days ago. The vet kept her overnight. The next day we brought her home. That day she attacked one of my cats that has been in the house since the dog was 2 months old. My husband was able to break up that fight before any injuries and was immediately put into the cage. The following day she was once again ok with the cats. No attacks or growls. Then the 3rd day we was sitting on the couch and my cat starts to come down the stairs to where we was sitting when the dog went after the same cat again (we have 2) and tore into him. After finally finding my cat and getting him somewhat calm we found 2 punture wounds on him and had to take him to the vet. The vet never told us that we needed to keep my dog isolated for the first couple days while she is in pain and now she is attacking my cats. We are now at a loss as to how to stop this behavior towards the cats. I say cats in plural because she was about to start after my other cat a few minutes ago. If this keeps up then we just might have to consider a drastic step. We might have to rehome the dog since there is NO way I would be able to find a home for my 2 cats. One cat is WAY too dependant on me and would probably die from not being around me (and yes Im serious) and the other cat is known to be a tad aggressive towards a human or two. So I come to you to please help with any ideas you might have to fix my dog since I really dont want to have to give her away, put her down, or resort to a shock collar. However if a shock collar would work and thats what you would recommend then I would rather do that than the other 2 options. Also I dont have money for a trainer or extremely expensive training classes. I am up to my eyeballs in doctor bills for my cancer treatments and now vet bills are piling up!!!!
Answer: 

Wow. Tough situation. You probably do need a professional who can observe the situation to help you and possibly a behaviorist. However, I can give you a couple of tips for basic stuff. As for the barking at your roommate... I would suggest her spending more time with him (safely of course) so she can get used to him. Most barking like that is fear based and she needs to view him as a source of good things, not something to be fearful or protective around. Maybe you could start walking together, letting him feed her, you feeding/playing with her when he is present, etc. It sounds like you're doing the right thing by treating when she's quiet, but you need to do a LOT of it - until her opinion of him changes.
As for the cat situation... if she's always been fine (meaning friendly with, not just tolerating) with the cats, this could just be a fluke after her surgery and she may be able to go back to her normal self with them. If you think this is her new behavior for some reason, you will need to keep them separate when you cannot supervise, keep her on leash while you are supervising, and reward like crazy for appropriate behavior. I wouldn't trust her with them for a long time if you think this was more than just a fluke. I would NOT use a shock collar to treat any type of aggression. If we counter her aggressive behavior with more aggression (pain from the shock), it will only raise the stress level and make the situation worse. You should be able to see great improvement with lots of rewards for the correct behavior and LOTS of management to make sure the bad behavior does not occur (remember, practice makes perfect whether it's good or bad behavior). Additionally, I would suggest a "nothing in life is free" technique which means that the dog must sit (or lie down) before you give her anything she wants or needs. She ought to be sitting for petting, food, access to outside/couch/toys, the leash, etc. This teaches her to defer to you and to be calm to get what she wants. Good luck!

Comments

23 Dec 2010 12:00 am

ladywolf319 said:

I understand that you just had her fixed, but if the attack on the cats and the barking at your roommate continues I would highly recommend a great deal of exercise. It sounds like she's a high energy dog and her predatory instincts are coming out. This is extremely prevalent after traumatic things such as, having surgery. Just as a person would be, she may be sore and a bit on edge. Check with your vet to see when she will be ready for some serious exercise and make due with even brief walks for now. Just as they said above, making her work for food and affection makes a huge difference.
I understand if it is hard for you with the cancer. I have a serious illness that makes me constantly weak, but our 4 month old Bernese Mountain dog reminds me if he hasn't been exercised properly. It makes a world of difference. Even when I'm too weak to walk him, I'll teach him a new trick that really tires him out mentally, then I can nap while he's napping :)

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