What should I do if one dog starts bullying the other?

I have a male 1 year old chihuahua named Beast. I also have a female Dashound, soon to be a year old. I have always fed them the same food, at the same time everyday, and right next to each other. However Within the last month I switched from puppy food to adult food, and Beast has been aggressive to my Dashound Leia, 3 days in a row.

I think the change in food made Beast more aware of his food and by extension, his “things” in general. If he really likes his new food, he might feel threatened by Leia that she’ll take it away from him. But either way, he is trying to dominate over Leia and become alpha. In a pack of dogs, one has to be the leader and the others are followers. Now that Beast is coming out of puppyhood, he is trying to become the alpha. It is actually a very natural thing, and you should let the dogs work it out between themselves, BUT watching out so that no one gets hurt. If Beast is just turning to Leia and growling and ACTING aggressive, he is just showing her that he’s alpha, but you need to intervene if there is a possible fight. If Leia backs down readily, then it’s actually a good thing. It means she is allowing Beast to be dominant and she accepts her subordinate position. This is fine, it doesn’t mean Leia is unhappy, it just means they’ve worked out the pack order.

Dogs are very good at working out the pack order, it’s only complicated when humans try to intervene and project our human emotions onto the situation. Your job is to ensure safety, not “fairness” as we see it. In the dog world, they don’t want fairness, they want a clear alpha dog and clear followers. When everyone knows their place, then everyone is happy.

I have three dogs and there is a clear pack order. At feeding times, I honor the pack order that they have established for themselves by giving the dish to the alpha dog first, then the second dog, then the 3rd. They eat at the same time, but in their own designated spots, and I monitor the whole feeding, meaning, I don’t leave until everyone is done. When I give out treats, I do in the same order, alpha first, then beta, then the third dog. This way, I don’t mess up the social order. If I give them a kong toy, I make sure everyone gets a kong toy and they have to eat it in their designated spot. As soon as I hear growls, I take them away, as you wisely did.

The most important thing actually is to establish yourself as the pack leader. So before you feed them, you make them execute a command like “sit” before giving them their food. Make them do a command whenever anything special is granted, including treats, walks, and being able to sit on your lap. When you establish yourself as a pack leader, then Beast will be more easily controlled, and it will make Leia feel safer.


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