A Puppy Named Tippe Learns Other Dogs Aren’t a Reason to Get Aggressive

By: David Codr

Published Date: February 11, 2016

Mischief and Tippe

Mischief (left) is a two year old Pointer / Boxer / Lab mix who recently welcomed 13 week-old Pointer Boxer Lab mix Tippe into the home. Their guardian turned to me for help after Tippe had a few bad encounters with aggressive neighbor dogs through the chain link fence. These experiences had resulted in Tippe starting to show aggressive behavior when encountering a new dog.

Both dogs were pretty excited for my arrival. The guardian was holding Mischief back physically which I try to avoid as this technique often causes a dog’s reaction to get more intense.

Both dogs were pretty excited for my arrival. The guardian was holding Mischief back physically which I try to avoid as this technique often causes a dog’s reaction to get more intense.

Once inside the dogs settled down a bit but I was concerned about how Mischief invaded the personal space of the members of the family. The mother mentioned that Mischief didn’t have much respect for their eldest child so I spent a few minutes going over some ways to disagree with unwanted behaviors and a few exercises to help the dogs develop a respectful view of the daughter.

Many people want to rush right into the problem behavior I am called in to help with. But in almost every case, its the basic structure that needs to be fixed first. This helps dogs develop the right leader follower dynamic, learn to control themselves and take lead from their guardians.

After our work inside, we were ready to introduce Tippe to an unknown dog. I decided to have my friend Fallon bring my crossed breed female Callie to help with this pup. Knowing that many dogs are more territorial inside their own home, I had Fallon wait for me a few houses away.

Whenever you work with multiple dogs, especially during introductions, its important that they are all calm when the greeting happens. Most dogs get into the most trouble when they are in an excited state.

I had walked Tippe several houses away from her home then had Fallon start walking towards us away from Tippe’s home so it was neutral territory. Once we got close, I took Cali’s leash and walked the dogs together back to the home taking care to not let them interact with each other. My goal was to get the dogs used to being together without actually interacting yet. Once we got to Tippe’s place, I let the dogs meet under a very structured and measured way.

I let the dogs interact on the leash out front for several minutes after shooting the above video so that they were both comfortable and relaxed. As Tippe became more comfortable around Cali, I gave her more leash freedom.

Only after Tippe started to show more interest in the yard did we take the next step, heading to Tippe’s back yard so they dogs could play and interact off leash.

Tippe did have a few moments when she started to react to Cali. While there was a little aggression to it, most of the interaction was puppy play. Whenever one of these outbursts happened, we paused so that Tippe could reset a bit and then I offered her a high value treat as a positive reinforcer.

Cali is a balanced dog who is experienced playing with small dogs and puppies, so after about 10 minutes I let her take the lead and correct Tippe when she started to get out of line. There is a big difference in a dog correcting and one returning aggressive behavior.

Once the dogs were completely comfortable, we added Mischief to the yard play so that everyone could get comfortable with the added space that the back yard offered. Adding a third dog, even one who isn’t troubled like Mischief can change things so I wanted to make sure everything was good before we headed inside where quarters were tighter.

It was great to see all three dogs playing with one another. This was a really good experience for Tippe as having a dog inside her home is an advanced encounter.

That being said, Tippe did revert with Cali a few times triggering a correcting response form her. Fortunately I was able to capture one of these encounters on camera.

If you are not sure about your dog’s response, it would be best to not allow it to correct another dog this way. In a balanced situation this is a great educational experience. But even though I know Cali is balanced, I’m a professional and I trust her, I kept a close eye on them ready to intercede in case things got heated. Happily for all, they did not.

Tippe is not an aggressive dog. She simply developed a defense tactic due to the unknown dogs she was exposed to. I suggested her guardian get her enrolled in a puppy socialization class and she has her first session today. This is one of the best things you can do to help young dog learn how to play, communicate and act around unknown dogs. Frankly if more people took advantage of these classes, id have far fewer people needing my help.

Because she had a positive experience with Cali, Im hoping that the experience playing with dogs of the same maturity and development level at the puppy socialization class allows Tippe to learn that new dogs are nothing to get upset about. In fact, they can be a lot of fun.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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