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Sweet Isabella increasingly is trying on a tough alpha attitude, help!

2 dogs - 1 stick
My Isabella-girl, here playing her favorite game with Sumo 'Get His Stick' or whatever it is he claimed and teased her with, worries me with her adopting alpha mannerisms.

Isabella should be getting on 5 years old by the end of this year. For the the first 2 years with me she was an absolute sweet, submissive girl. Since Spring 09, about 3 1/2 years old, she started to assert herself. We first noticed her defending one friend from another, Willa from Bianca, clearly attempting to protect Willa from Bianca's exuberance at the dog park. It has progressed to her occasional not meeting strange dogs with what used to be her submissive, tail wagging, sweet self, but a rigid body with tail up and sometimes a stare. One bigger dog would have none of that and put her in her place with no harm done early last Spring. But I find myself having to be more vigilant and unable to predict her responses. While on the whole she is very Wheaton like evenly tempered with perfect behavior at home, meeting others she may be super friendly, invite even puppies to play or suddenly tell them off with a startling vehemence.

Today I took her alone along with me riding my bike and then I took them both together. We greeted a sweet young pup and when this one got too close, she told him off by barking again aggressively. I do believe in Cesar Milan's teachings and the importance of exercise. Mine get out an average of 3 hours, walking downtown on lead and at the dog park off lead. They can heel perfectly, but I am afraid they get confused with the varied terrain and do not always understand why walking along streets they can not follow their noses as they can in casual hanging out in parks. On occasion I take them running along my bike, but it is a challenge I am not always up for, that really requires hyper vigilance for all our safety.

Sumo used to behave like an alpha and Isabella let him, but after 3 years she clearly enjoys now her alpha status over him. She asserted herself only maybe 3 times in 3 years, twice with bones, but in play will gleefully take what is his and give him a roll and be in constant pursuit. My girl had only eyes for him and seemed, she must have been in love, although this year she has become markedly more interested again in other dogs.
Isabella-girl taking a Siesta

At home Isabella has put the cat in place twice when he got too interested in Sumo's food. Otherwise they get all along very peacefully. All my pets know how to sit and be polite in order to receive their food or treats. Isabella knows to let me pass through doors first and how to heel, lie down and stay. On walks I had to insist she heel rather then bumble along behind, which is a dramatic change from her racing ahead in her youth. But Sumo feels the 'Sturm and Drang' to go ahead, it must be in his genes, so she took on the role of staying behind. I rarely take them out separately and wonder if I ought to pay more individual attention?

Some suggest that this may be a phase? She had phases before, markedly the one she refused to go back in to the van to go home, which gave me plenty of grief for a while, and learning. She got over that one, but now Sumo who has been so perfect suddenly refuses to go back home, go figure?

Isabella is my very first canine companion ever, and while I tried to educate myself long before I got her, still I would appreciate hearing your feedback and experience in regard to my sweet girl's aggressive, alpha behavior.

P.S.: I have only today figured out how to get back in to Scoop as I had cleaned out my computer and for weeks had been unable to sign back in. It's good to be back, thanks for reading this.

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Comment by Donna Leshne on September 4, 2010 at 7:31pm
Please "google" "A Fresh Perspective Dog Training". Folks are out of Rio Rancho.
Dominance behaviour in dogs means they are taking over because there is no clear leadership from "us"
Training is always good, but behaviour modification requires US to change certain things on a daily, consistant basis and to understand how wer misintirpit what dogs do through our "human" lens. Please read their web site, give them a call and I will also be happy to talk with you about our "training" experince with them and what it has done to help us manage rescue dogs. Donna. ( no spell check here sorry)
Comment by om on September 2, 2010 at 7:58pm
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Comment by om on September 2, 2010 at 5:09pm
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