Treating a Dog Like Royalty

My problem child is a two year old Border Collie bitch (not spayed). She is forever snarling, growling and lunging at my other four Border Collie's - three females and one male. I don't know why she does this, unless she feels she should be head dog. Unfortunately for her she is fourth in line to the throne. Even a litter has not cured her. What should I do?

The first thing I would do is to spay the dog. It won't solve your behavior problems but it is the responsible thing to do. It's also very beneficial to them healthwise.

Secondly, the phrase "she is fourth in line to the throne" is not how things work in the doggie world. Dog society is *not* an aristocracy - with kings, queens, inheritance of the throne, nor "right by birth" or successor. It is a hierarchy by power, plain and simple. You fight your way to the top, through bluff or physical violence. It is the classic "pecking order" so commonly referred to in chickens and the corporate world. You can no more determine who is the more dominant dog in your family than you can determine which group in the Bosnian conflict will come out on top. All you can do is to declare peace when things get out of hand and allow them to work things out amongst themselves, hopefully without bloodshed or too much strife.

Additionally, the "snarling, growling and lunging" is just part of that fight to the top by bluff. Just hope it stays that way. Each time you intervene or try to impose your own hierarchical order, you are only setting the stage for further violence. Stay out of it and live by a very simple rule - "no blood, no foul". Snarling, growling and lunging is just part of living with multiple dogs. The more you intervene, the worse it will get. Eventually it dies down and peace and quiet reign in the household. (With this many dogs around here, do you think I could listen to all that noise all the time? It *does* stop. Just give it a bit of time.)

Re: "Even a litter has not cured her" - Ugh. This gives me a knot in my stomach. Mostly because it is a very widely held belief. However, I can state unequivocally and scientifically, that having a litter of pups does not cure *any* problems - behavioral or medical. Oftentimes, it just creates more. It does not "calm them down" nor does it "mature" them. You just end up with more dogs in the world.

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